Scientists identify last Neanderthal refuge

2011-05-13 09:33
New York - Scientists have identified what may be one of the last northern refuges of Neanderthals, a spot near the Arctic Circle in Russia with artefacts dated to 31 000 to 34 000 years ago.

Stone tools and flakes found there look like the work of Neanderthals, the stocky, muscular hunters who lived in Europe and western Asia until they were replaced by modern humans, researchers reported on Thursday in the journal Science.

The site lies along the Pechora River west of the Ural Mountains, about 150km south of the Arctic Circle.

Researchers dated it from animal bones and sand grains. Nobody has found any human bones or DNA that could provide stronger evidence that Neanderthals lived there, report the scientists, from Russia, France and Norway. The artefacts had been collected during various expeditions.

Neanderthals first appeared more than 200 000 years ago. They died out sometime after modern humans arrived in Europe, which occurred some 40 000 to 45 000 years ago.

Modern people

Richard Klein, a Stanford University professor of anthropology, said the artefacts do look like the work of Neanderthals, but that it's also possible they were made by modern people instead.

Neanderthals were not previously known to be in that area, nor convincingly shown to be present anywhere at such a recent time, he said. Finding another site or human bones would help settle the question, he said.

Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College of the City of New York, cited a 2006 study that suggests Neanderthals occupied a cave near the southern tip of Spain at about the same time as the new work puts them in Russia.

Maybe the two locations show how Neanderthals retreated in opposite directions from the encroachment of the modern humans, he said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    archaeology

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

6 reasons Boks won’t botch it
Fiji far too strong for Uruguay
Burger hopes for elusive World Cup win
As it happened: Fiji 47-15 Uruguay
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.