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Neanderthals more advanced than previously thought
Date:9/21/2010

cessary to explain the origin of this new behavior. This stands in contrast to the ideas of the past 50 years that Neanderthals had to be acculturated to humans to come up with this technology," he said. "When we show Neanderthals could innovate on their own it casts them in a new light. It `humanizes' them if you will."

Thousands of years ago, southern Italy experienced a shift in climate, becoming increasingly open and arid, said Riel-Salvatore. Neanderthals living there faced a stark choice of adapting or dying out. The evidence suggests they began using darts or arrows to hunt smaller game to supplement the increasingly scarce larger mammals they traditionally hunted.

"The fact that Neanderthals could adapt to new conditions and innovate shows they are culturally similar to us," he said. "Biologically they are also similar. I believe they were a subspecies of human but not a different species."

The powerfully built Neanderthals were first discovered in Germany's Neander Valley in 1856. Exactly who they were, how they lived and why they vanished remains unclear.

Research shows they contributed between 1 and 4 percent of their genetic material to the people of Asia and Europe. Riel-Salvatore rejects the theory that they were exterminated by modern humans. Homo sapiens might simply have existed in larger groups and had slightly higher birthrates, he said.

"It is likely that Neanderthals were absorbed by modern humans," he said. "My research suggests that they were a different kind of human, but humans nonetheless. We are more brothers than distant cousins."


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Contact: david kelly
david.kelly@ucdenver.edu
303-503-7990
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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