Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Last Neanderthals in Europe died out 37,000 years ago

Date:
January 27, 2010
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The last Neanderthals in Europe died out at least 37,000 years ago -- and both climate change and interaction with modern humans could be involved in their demise, according to new research.

Teeth from Pego do Diabo, Portugal
Credit: Photo by courtesy of PLoS ONE

The paper, by Professor João Zilhão and colleagues, builds on his earlier research which proposed that, south of the Cantabro-Pyrenean mountain chain, Neanderthals survived for several millennia after being replaced or assimilated by anatomically modern humans everywhere else in Europe.

Related Articles


Although the reality of this 'Ebro Frontier' pattern has gained wide acceptance since it was first proposed by Professor Zilhão some twenty years ago, two important aspects of the model have remained the object of unresolved controversy: the exact duration of the frontier; and the causes underlying the eventual disappearance of those refugial Neanderthal populations (ecology and climate, or competition with modern human immigrants).

Professor Zilhão and colleagues now report new dating evidence for the Late Aurignacian of Portugal, an archaeological culture unquestionably associated with modern humans, that firmly constrains the age of the last Neanderthals of southern and western Iberia to no younger than some 37,000 years ago.

This new evidence therefore puts at five millennia the duration of the Iberian Neanderthal refugium, and counters speculations that Neanderthal populations could have remained in the Gibraltar area until 28,000 years ago.

These findings have important implications for the understanding of the archaic features found in the anatomy of a 30,000 year old child unearthed at Lagar Velho, Portugal. With the last of the Iberian Neanderthals dating to many millennia before the child was born, 'freak' crossbreeding between immediate ancestors drawn from distinct 'modern' and 'Neanderthal' gene pools cannot be a viable explanation. The skeleton's archaic features must therefore represent evolutionarily significant admixture at the time of contact, as suggested by the team who excavated and studied the fossil.

Professor Zilhão said: "I believe the 'Ebro frontier' pattern was generated by both climatic and demographic factors, as it coincides with a period of globally milder climate during which oak and pine woodlands expanded significantly along the west façade of Iberia.

"Population decrease and a break-up of interaction networks probably occurred as a result of the expansion of such tree-covered landscapes, favouring the creation and persistence of population refugia.

"Then, as environments opened up again for large herbivore herds and their hunters as a result of the return to colder conditions, interaction and movement across the previous boundary must have ensued, and the last of the Neanderthals underwent the same processes of assimilation or replacement that underpin their demise elsewhere in Europe five millennia earlier."

The dating was undertaken by experts at the University of Vienna (VERA laboratory) led by Professor Eva Maria Wild, and at the University of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.

Professor Wild, head of the 14C program at VERA (Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator) said: "Accurate 14C dating was crucial for this study. For layer 2 of the cave sediment we achieved this by selecting teeth for 14C dating and by comparing the 14C results of the same sample after different, elaborate sample pre-treatments. Agreement between the results obtained with different methods provides a proof for accurate dating."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. João Zilhão, Simon J. M. Davis, Cidália Duarte, António Soares, Peter Steier, Eva Wild. Pego do Diabo (Loures, Portugal): Dating the Emergence of Anatomical Modernity in Westernmost Eurasia. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (1): e8880 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008880

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Last Neanderthals in Europe died out 37,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126220321.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2010, January 27). Last Neanderthals in Europe died out 37,000 years ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126220321.htm
University of Bristol. "Last Neanderthals in Europe died out 37,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126220321.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins