Neanderthals: New Findings & Theories

ramonmercado

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DNA evidence in the dirt.

Estatuas cave in northern Spain was a hive of activity 105,000 years ago.

Artifacts show its Neanderthal inhabitants hafted stone tools, butchered red deer, and may have made fires. They also shed, bled, and excreted subtler clues onto the cave floor: their own DNA. “You can imagine them sitting in the cave making tools, butchering animals. Maybe they cut themselves or their babies pooped,” says population geneticist Benjamin Vernot, a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), whose perspective may have been colored by his own baby’s cries during a Zoom call. “All that DNA accumulates in the dirt floors.”

He and MPI-EVA geneticist Matthias Meyer report today in Science that dirt from Estatuas has yielded molecular treasure: the first nuclear DNA from an ancient human to be gleaned from sediments. Earlier studies reported shorter, more abundant human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from cave floors, but nuclear DNA, previously available only from bones and teeth, can be far more informative. “Now, it seems that it is possible to extract nuclear DNA from dirt, and we have a lot of dirt in archaeological sites,” says archaeologist Marie Soressi of Leiden University.

“This is a beautiful paper,” agrees population geneticist Pontus Skoglund of the Francis Crick Institute. The sequences reveal the genetic identity and sex of ancient cave dwellers and show that one group of Neanderthals replaced another in the Spanish cave about 100,000 years ago, perhaps after a climate cooling. “They can see a shift in Neanderthal populations at the very same site, which is quite nice,” Skoglund says. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/dna-cave-dirt-tells-tale-how-some-neanderthals-disappeared
 

EnolaGaia

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Fossil remains of 9 Neanderthals have been discovered in a cave near Rome.
Archaeologists discover remains of 9 Neanderthals near Rome

Italian archaeologists have uncovered the fossilized remains of nine Neanderthals in a cave near Rome, shedding new light on how the Italian peninsula was populated and under what environmental conditions.

The Italian Culture Ministry announced the discovery Saturday, saying it confirmed that the Guattari Cave in San Felice Circeo was “one of the most significant places in the world for the history of Neanderthals.” A Neanderthal skull was discovered in the cave in 1939.

The fossilized bones include skulls, skull fragments, two teeth and other bone fragments. The oldest remains date from between 100,000 and 90,000 years ago, while the other eight Neanderthals are believed to date from 50,000-68,000 years ago, the Culture Ministry said in a statement. ...
FULL STORY: https://apnews.com/article/rome-europe-science-d0f498355e2a3f6d300dd9c18125b2d1
 

Mikefule

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Fossil remains of 9 Neanderthals have been discovered in a cave near Rome.

FULL STORY: https://apnews.com/article/rome-europe-science-d0f498355e2a3f6d300dd9c18125b2d1
The same story on the BBC:

Link

The archaeologists who unearthed the remains in the Guattari Cave, about 90km (56 miles) south-east of Rome, said they belonged to seven adult males, a woman and a young boy.
Mario Rolfo, a professor of archaeology at Tor Vergata University, said most of the Neanderthals had been killed by hyenas and dragged back to their cave den as food...
 

Kondoru

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Thog had planned doing something about the hyenas but they seldom went for kids so he couldnt be bothered.
 

ramonmercado

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The crbs Diet.

Here’s another blow to the popular image of Neanderthals as brutish meat eaters:

A new study of bacteria collected from Neanderthal teeth shows that our close cousins ate so many roots, nuts, or other starchy foods that they dramatically altered the type of bacteria in their mouths. The finding suggests our ancestors had adapted to eating lots of starch by at least 600,000 years ago—about the same time as they needed more sugars to fuel a big expansion of their brains.

The study is “groundbreaking,” says Harvard University evolutionary biologist Rachel Carmody, who was not part of the research. The work suggests the ancestors of both humans and Neanderthals were cooking lots of starchy foods at least 600,000 years ago. And they had already adapted to eating more starchy plants long before the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, she says.

The brains of our ancestors doubled in size between 2 million and 700,000 years ago. Researchers have long credited better stone tools and cooperative hunting: As early humans got better at killing animals and processing meat, they ate a higher quality diet, which gave them more energy more rapidly to fuel the growth of their hungrier brains. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/neanderthals-carb-loaded-helping-grow-their-big-brains
 

ramonmercado

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The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

More than 49,000 years ago, a family of Neanderthals set up camp in a cave high in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, overlooking a river valley where bison, red deer, and wild horses roamed. In the cave’s main gallery, a teenage girl lost a tooth, perhaps while gnawing on bison that her father or his kin had hunted in the sweeping grasslands.

Now, researchers have analyzed the genomes of this father and daughter and 12 of their relatives, many of whom sheltered in the same cave over less than 100 years. The new genomes almost double the number of Neanderthal genomes known and offer a glimpse of the Neanderthal population at the eastern end of their range, at a time when they were headed toward extinction.

The genomes also offer the first real clues to the social structure of a group of Neanderthals. In addition to identifying the first father-daughter pair, the genetic evidence suggests these males stayed in their family groups as adults, like men in many modern human societies, says geneticist Laurits Skov of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He presented the work in a virtual talk at the ninth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology earlier this month.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/06/ancient-genomes-offer-rare-glimpse-neanderthal-family-groups
 

maximus otter

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51,000-year-old carved bone is one of the world's oldest works of art


The toe bone of a prehistoric deer carved with lines by Neanderthals 51,000 years ago is one of the oldest works of art ever found, according to a study released Monday.

The discovery is further evidence that Neanderthals — Homo neanderthalensis — were able to express symbolism through art — which was once attributed only to our own species, Homo sapiens.

Image: engraved giant deer bone

The engraved giant deer bone from Einhornhöhle.V. Minkus / Courtesy Lower Saxony Office for Heritage

“This is clearly not a pendant or something like that,” said Thomas Terberger, a professor and prehistoric archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, who co-authored a study of the object in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. “It’s clearly a decoration with a kind of symbolic character. ... You might even call it the initial start of art, something which was not done by accident, but with a clear plan in mind.”

The bone was unearthed in a cave in the Harz Mountains of central Germany, about 150 miles southwest of Berlin. The front is carved with overlapping chevrons — lines in the shape of inverted V's — that appear to point upward, and archaeologists have also discerned a line of smaller incisions on its lower edge, which seems to have served as its base.

“We were trying it out, and this object can stand alone on its base. It doesn’t shake or tip over or anything,” said archaeologist Dirk Leder of the Lower Saxony state office for Cultural Heritage, who led the excavations that discovered the bone. “It was probably left standing upright in a corner of the cave.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/sci...lds-oldest-works-art-researchers-say-rcna1333

maximus otter
 

GNC

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I bet there were people complaining about it then, too. "A child of five could do better!"
 

EnolaGaia

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Novel participatory research demonstrates Neanderthals may well have 'dined-in' - catching and eating birds at night in the caves both species shared.
To Understand Neanderthal Night-Hunting Methods, Scientists Caught Thousands of Birds With Their Bare Hands in Spanish Caves

Since the first Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) fossils were discovered in the 1800s, scientists have done extensive studies on how these hominids lived. Researchers previously thought the early hominin only slept at night and hunted during the day. However, new findings suggest that Neanderthals worked together to hunt birds at night. They even used tools—like fire torches and nets—to forage for choughs, a cave-dwelling bird belonging to the corvid family, reports Maddie Bender for Vice.

To simulate how Neanderthals may have foraged for food at night, researchers in Spain traveled to caves and used nets and lamps to capture the roosting birds. The study was published earlier this month in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

"Here, we show that Neanderthals likely preyed on choughs, birds that spend the night in caves, the preferred shelter of Neanderthals. We reconstruct how Neanderthals could have used fire to dazzle, corral, and grab flying choughs at night," says Guillermo Blanco, a researcher from the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid, in a Frontiers statement. ...

In the new study, researchers focused on how Neanderthals hunted choughs, which roosted in caves our ancestors used for shelter. Scientists first conducted a literature review to find out how many chough fossils were found in caves also containing Neanderthal fossils or tools,Vice reports. In Europe, chough fossils were abundantly found in Neanderthal caves, especially in archeological sites in the Iberian Peninsula. ...

Then, the team decided to put their hypothesis to the real test. For several years, the researchers visited existing caves and learned how to catch choughs by hand under the cloak of night. They used lamps to surprise resting birds and simulate torches that may have been carried by Neanderthals looking for a quick meal. All birds were banded and released unharmed after their experiment. In 296 experimental trials at 70 chough roosting sites, scientists caught a total of 5,525 birds. ...
FULL STORY:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smar...tching-birds-with-their-bare-hands-180978737/

PUBLISHED RESEARCH REPORT:
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2021.733062/full
 

ramonmercado

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Just as bad as the Amazon loggers and farmers.

Neandertals took Stone Age landscaping to a previously unrecognized level.

Around 125,000 years ago, these close human relatives transformed a largely forested area bordering two central European lakes into a relatively open landscape, say archaeologist Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues. Analyses of pollen, charcoal, animal fossils and other material previously unearthed at two ancient lake basins in Germany provide the oldest known evidence of hominids reshaping their environments, the scientists report December 15 in Science Advances.

The excavated areas are located within a site called Neumark-Nord. Neandertals’ daily activities there, apparently ongoing throughout the year, had a big environmental impact, the researchers suspect. Those pursuits, which occurred over a span of about 2,000 years, included setting campfires, butchering game, collecting wood, making tools and constructing shelters, they say.

“We might be dealing with larger and less mobile groups of [Neandertals] than commonly acknowledged,” Roebroeks says, thanks in part to warming temperatures after around 150,000 years ago that cleared ice sheets from resource-rich locations such as Neumark-Nord. ...

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/neandertals-first-hominid-modify-environment-forest-grassland
 

EnolaGaia

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Recently published genetic research indicates Neanderthals were subject to significantly more risk of errors in replicating key chromosomes involved in neocortex development - errors quite possibly causing neural and gene-related disorders.
Scientists May Have Found a Key Shift Between The Brains of Humans And Neanderthals

Scientists experimenting on mice have found evidence that key parts of the modern human brain take more time to develop than those of our long extinct cousin, the Neanderthal. ...

The extra time is caused by protein differences that also appear to reduce chromosome errors, ultimately resulting in a healthier, more robust population.

The study's results imply that this step in the development of our neocortex (the wrinkled outer layer responsible for higher order thinking) plays a role in protecting us from disease, a feature Neanderthals appear to be missing. ...

We know, for example, of around 100 amino acids ... that changed when modern humans diverged from the branch that gave rise to Neanderthals and another close cousin, the Denisovans.

Amino acid substitution can have significant effects, but it was unclear what functions these substitutions changed between humans and Neanderthals.

Six of the identified substitutions exist in proteins already known to play a role in the distribution of chromosomes during cell division. So a team of researchers ... conducted experiments to see if they could determine the role these amino acid changes might play in neocortex development. ...

"We found that three modern human amino acids in two of the proteins cause a longer metaphase, a phase where chromosomes are prepared for cell division ... and this results in fewer errors when the chromosomes are distributed to the daughter cells of the neural stem cells, just like in modern humans."

In addition, the metaphase in the Neanderthalized human organoids was shorter, resulting in twice the number of chromosome separation errors compared to the control organoids. This suggests that three modern human amino acid substitutions are responsible for fewer chromosome distribution errors compared to Neanderthals.

Since errors in the number of chromosomes, known as polysomies, can result in serious disorders, as well as cancers such as leukemia and carcinoma, the results suggest that the change was to the benefit of modern humans. They also suggest that brain function in Neanderthals may have been impacted by chromosomal disorders at a higher rate than we see in modern humans. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/scient...ins-develop-more-slowly-than-neanderthals-did
 

EnolaGaia

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the published research report. The full report is accessible at the link below.


FELIPE MORA-BERMÚDEZ, PHILIPP KANIS, DOMINIK MACAK, JULA PETERS, et al.
Longer metaphase and fewer chromosome segregation errors in modern human than Neanderthal brain development
SCIENCE ADVANCES 29 Jul 2022 Vol 8, Issue 30
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn7702

Abstract
Since the ancestors of modern humans separated from those of Neanderthals, around 100 amino acid substitutions spread to essentially all modern humans. The biological significance of these changes is largely unknown. Here, we examine all six such amino acid substitutions in three proteins known to have key roles in kinetochore function and chromosome segregation and to be highly expressed in the stem cells of the developing neocortex. When we introduce these modern human-specific substitutions in mice, three substitutions in two of these proteins, KIF18a and KNL1, cause metaphase prolongation and fewer chromosome segregation errors in apical progenitors of the developing neocortex. Conversely, the ancestral substitutions cause shorter metaphase length and more chromosome segregation errors in human brain organoids, similar to what we find in chimpanzee organoids. These results imply that the fidelity of chromosome segregation during neocortex development improved in modern humans after their divergence from Neanderthals.

SOURCE / FULL REPORT: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abn7702
 

ramonmercado

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This can go here https://inews.co.uk/news/science/an...terbreeding-modern-humans-neanderthals-852189

Ancient teeth provide a great example of interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals
The teeth were found on the south west coast of Jersey and are seen as best physical example of interbreeding
author avatar image
By Tom Bawden
February 1, 2021 12:01 am
PRI_181099598-640x360.jpg

(Photo: Natural History Museum)

This is the best example if interbreeding yet

Thirteen ancient teeth found on the southwest shores of Jersey contain features of both Neanderthals and modern humans – providing the most striking example of interbreeding between the two groups yet unearthed.
It was already well known that ancient and modern humans interbred as Neanderthal DNA is found in people all over the world.
But the discovery of these 40-odd thousand year old teeth on the archaeological site of La Cotte de St Brelade in Jersey provides the best physical illustration of their interbreeding so far, researchers say.
“We consider this the strongest direct evidence yet found in fossils,” said Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum.

(c) iNews. '21.

More finds at La Cotte.

Archaeologists have found an ancient flint tool during an excavation in St Brelade.

It was found during a three-week dig at La Cotte by students at University College London.

Dig leader Matt Pope said although they were still researching the age of artefacts, they believed the tool dated back to about 50,000 years ago.

The Prince of Wales in July became the patron of the project at the site, which he visited as a student in 1968.

Mr Pope said: "What we do is we date the sediments - we have taken some samples which will tell us how old the sediments are that contain these stone artefacts. We suspect that they will be less than 50,000 years old, maybe anywhere between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago, but we will have to prove that with some science."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-jersey-62447569
 

ramonmercado

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I wonder what percentage of Neandertal DNA Paabo has?

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has gone to Sweden's Svante Paabo for his work on human evolution.

The Prize committee said he achieved the seemingly impossible task of cracking the genetic code of one of our extinct relatives - Neanderthals.

He also performed the "sensational" feat of discovering the previously unknown relative - Denisovans.

His work helped explore our own evolutionary history and how humans spread around the planet.

The Swedish geneticist's work gets to the heart of some of the most fundamental questions - where do we come from and what allowed us, Homo sapiens, to succeed while our relatives went extinct.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-63116304
 

ramonmercado

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We need a sitcom about this.

Modern humans and Neanderthals met—and made love, or at least babies—at some point in prehistory.

But how long and exactly where the two species intermingled has been a mystery. Now, a reevaluation of radiocarbon dating at archaeological sites in France and northern Spain indicates that some 40,000 years ago, our ancestors overlapped with Neanderthals in the region for up to 2800 years, sharing not just genes with each other, but potentially culture as well.

“The time span is insignificant on a geological scale,” says Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo, an archaeologist at the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution who was not involved with the study. “But on a human scale, there is enough time for very interesting things to happen.”

Other scientists, however, say the wide margins of error for many of the dates analyzed in the study undercut strong claims about the identities of the inhabitants and whether they indeed overlapped. It’s “a good starting point,” but the conclusions could change based on more accurate dating, says Sahra Talamo, a chemist who directs a radiocarbon laboratory at the University of Bologna.

https://www.science.org/content/art...have-overlapped-shared-culture-western-europe
 
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