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Observations

Ancient Engraving Strengthens Case for Sophisticated Neandertals

Neandertal engraving in Gorham

One of the longest-running, most fervent debates in the history of human evolution research concerns the cognitive abilities of the Neandertals. Were they the slow-witted creatures of popular imagination or did an intellect like that of modern humans lurk behind that heavy brow? I think it’s safe to say that these days most paleoanthropologists have [...]

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Observations

Sex with Neandertals Introduced Helpful and Harmful DNA into the Modern Human Genome

Neandertal skull

Over the past few years a number of studies of ancient and contemporary genomes have reached the same stunning conclusion: early human species interbred, and people today carry DNA from archaic humans, including the Neandertals, as a result of those interspecies trysts. Now two new analyses of modern human genomes are providing insights into how [...]

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Observations

Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neandertals

Tiny stone points from Pinnacle Point

Archaeologists excavating a cave on the southern coast of South Africa have recovered remains of the oldest known complex* projectile weapons. The tiny stone blades, which were probably affixed to wooden shafts for use as arrows, date to 71,000 years ago and represent a sophisticated technological tradition that endured for thousands of years. The discovery [...]

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Observations

Oldest Cave Paintings May Be Creations of Neandertals, Not Modern Humans

el castillo hands

In a cave in northwestern Spain called El Castillo, ancient artists decorated a stretch of limestone wall with dozens of depictions of human hands. They seem to have made the images by pressing a hand to the wall and then blowing red pigment on it, creating a sort of stencil. Hand stencils are a common [...]

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