Mettmann, Germany
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Romandini M.,University of Ferrara | Peresani M.,University of Ferrara | Laroulandie V.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Metz L.,Aix - Marseille University | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

To contribute to have a better understanding of the symbolic or not use of certain items by Neanderthals, this work presents new evidence of the deliberate removal of raptor claws occurred in Mediterranean Europe during the recent phases of the Mousterian. Rio Secco Cave in the north-east of Italy and Mandrin Cave in the Middle Rhône valley have recently produced two golden eagle pedal phalanges from contexts not younger than 49.1-48.0 ky cal BP at Rio Secco and dated around 50.0 ky cal BP at Mandrin. The bones show cut-marks located on the proximal end ascribable to the cutting of the tendons and the incision of the cortical organic tissues. Also supported by an experimental removal of large raptor claws, our reconstruction explains that the deliberate detachment occurred without damaging the claw, in a way comparable at a general level with other Mousterian contexts across Europe. After excluding that these specimens met the nutritional requirements for human subsistence, we discuss the possible implications these findings perform in our current knowledge of the European Middle Palaeolithic context. © 2014 Romandini et al.

Picin A.,Neanderthal Museum | Picin A.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Iphes | Picin A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Peresani M.,University of Ferrara | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The introduction of Levallois technology in Europe marked the transition from the Lower to the early Middle Paleolithic. This new method of flake production was accompanied by significant behavioral changes in hominin populations. The emergence of this technological advance is considered homogeneous in the European archaeological record at the Marine isotopic stage (MIS) 9/MIS 8 boundary. In this paper we report a series of combined electron spin resonance/U-series dates on mammal bones and teeth recovered from the lower units of San Bernardino Cave (Italy) and the technological analyses of the lithic assemblages. The San Bernardino Cave has yielded the earliest evidence of Levallois production on the Italian Peninsula recovered to date. In addition to our results and the review of the archaeological record, we describe the chronological and geographical differences between European territories and diversities in terms of technological developments. The belated emergence of Levallois technology in Italy compared to western Europe corresponds to the late Italian Neanderthal speciation event. The new radiometric dates and the technological analyses of San Bernardino Cave raise the issue of the different roles of glacial refugia in the peopling and the spread of innovative flaking strategies in Europe during the late Middle Pleistocene. © 2013 Picin et al.

Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Eiwanger J.,Deutsches Archaologisches Institute DAI | Mikdad A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine Du Maroc Insap | Weniger G.-C.,Neanderthal Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

This paper provides a summary of all available numerical ages from contexts of the Moroccan Middle Palaeolithic to Epipalaeolithic and reviews some of the most important sites. Particular attention is paid to the so-called "Aterian", albeit those so-labeled assemblages fail to show any geographical and chronological pattern. For this reason, this phenomenon should not be considered a distinct culture or techno-complex and is referred to hereinafter as Middle Palaeolithic of Aterian type. Whereas anatomical modern humans (AMH) are present in Northwest Africa from about 160 ka onwards, according to current research some Middle Palaeolithic inventories are more than 200 ka. This confirms that, for this period it is impossible to link human forms with artifact material. Perforated shell beads with traces of ochre documented from 80 ka onwards certainly suggest changes in human behavior. The transition from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, here termed Early Upper Palaeolithic - at between 30 and 20 ka - remains the most enigmatic era. However, the still scarce data from this period requires careful and fundamental revision in the frame of any future research. By integrating environmental data in reconstruction of population dynamics, clear correlations become obvious. High resolution data are lacking before 20 ka, and at some sites this period is characterized by the occurrence of sterile layers between Middle Palaeolithic deposits, possibly indicative of shifts in human population. After Heinrich Event 1, there is an enormous increase of data due to the prominent Late Iberomaurusian deposits that contrast strongly from the foregoing accumulations in terms of sedimentological features, fauna and artifact composition. The Younger Dryas shows a remarkable decline of data marking the end of the Palaeolithic. Environmental improvements in the Holocene are associated with an extensive Epipalaeolithic occupation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

News Article | March 18, 2016

An exhibit shows the life of a neanderthal family in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina in this February 25, 2010, file photo. Scientists said on March 18, 2016, an analysis of genetic information on about 1,500 people from locations around the world confirmed at least four interbreeding episodes tens of thousands of years ago, three with our close cousins the Neanderthals and one with the mysterious extinct human species known as Denisovans. REUTERS/Nikola Solic/Files More WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Our species, Homo sapiens, has a more adventurous sexual history than previously realized, and all that bed-hopping long ago has left an indelible mark on the human genome. Scientists said on Friday an analysis of genetic information on about 1,500 people from locations around the world indicated at least four interbreeding episodes tens of thousands of years ago, three with our close cousins the Neanderthals and one with the mysterious extinct human species known as Denisovans. People living on the remote equatorial islands of Melanesia represented the only population found to possess an appreciable level of Denisovan genetic ancestry. These Melanesians, like most human populations, also had Neanderthal genetic ancestry. The researchers found some of the genes inherited from these extinct species were beneficial for our species. Many are involved in the immune system and likely helped protect against pathogens, and some play important roles in skin and hair biology, said University of Washington evolutionary geneticist Joshua Akey, who helped lead the study published in the journal Science. The researchers analyzed DNA sequences from 35 people living on Northern Island Melanesia off the coast of New Guinea. These Melanesians were found to have about 2 percent Neanderthal ancestry plus an additional genetic contribution of roughly 2 to 4 percent from Denisovans. The non-African populations studied had roughly 1.5 to 4 percent Neanderthal genetic ancestry, Akey said. African populations do not have either Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry because those two species were never on that continent. Denisovans, discovered in the past decade, are known only from a pinky finger bone and two teeth from a northern Siberian cave. The robust, large-browed Neanderthals prospered across Europe and Asia from about 350,000 years ago until disappearing shortly after 40,000 years ago. Less is known about the Denisovans. The fact that the only known Denisovan remains come from northern Siberia but that their genetic contribution is seen in people living far away in Melanesia suggests Denisovans had a broad geographic range extending across Asia, Akey said. Binghamton University molecular anthropologist D. Andrew Merriwether said the researchers also detected a contribution to people's genome from a fourth, unknown source. "So this paints a picture of probably at least four species of hominins (our species and extinct human species) alive at the same time and interbreeding at times over the last 100,000 years. Definitely not something most people supposed before 10 years ago," Merriwether said.

Lehndorff E.,University of Bonn | Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Kehl M.,University of Cologne | Weniger G.,Neanderthal Museum
Holocene | Year: 2015

Fire residues elucidate the where, when, and how of land use. Charcoal analysis provides insights into wood-burning practices, but is restricted by the size of identifiable particles. The present paper is the first to apply a black carbon (BC) method to archaeological sediment deposits. This method oxidizes charcoal and soot particles from the bulk sediment to benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCAs), independent of size. Our aim was to test the potential of BC analysis in order to elucidate the input from grass and wood fires and discuss the potential limitations of the method on sediments of the Ifri Oudadane rock shelter, Morocco. Sediments cover the cultural transition from hunter–gatherers to food-producing communities (Epipaleolithic to Neolithic period, 11–6 kyr cal. BP), which has previously been shown to affect the geochemical, palynological, and archaeological inventories of these sediments. We found respective changes in BC; specifically, content was highest during the Epipaleolithic, with an average of 35% BC in organic carbon (Corg) compared with Neolithic sediments with an average of 24% BC in Corg. The fire temperature (expressed by BPCA composition) changed significantly, which suggests that wood fires dominated in the Epipaleolithic and grass fires dominated in the Neolithic period. These findings agree with a previously suggested shift in usage. We are able to show here that BC analysis, when combined with other proxy data and archaeological findings, can contribute to a deepened understanding of past human activities. © The Author(s) 2014.

Bradtmoller M.,Neanderthal Museum | Pastoors A.,Neanderthal Museum | Weninger B.,University of Cologne | Weniger G.-C.,Neanderthal Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The disappearance of Neanderthals from the Palaeolithic record in Europe remains an enigma, even after more than 150 years of research. This paper identifies Rapid Climate Change during the Glacial period as a major factor that influences a variety of cultural, economic and demographic processes during the European Palaeolithic. In particular, and in agreement with many previous authors, climatic deterioration is put forward to explain multiple population breakdown during the European Palaeolithic, as well as to explain corresponding major cultural changes. Taking the archaeological record of the Iberian Peninsula as a case study, the Repeated Replacement Model (RRM) is proposed to explain population turnover in Europe during the most extreme climatic phases of the Glacial, the occurrence of North Atlantic Heinrich Events (HE). The strong aridity of the Mediterranean during HEs appears to have limited settlement refugia to such an extreme extent that communication networks and cultural traditions broke down and were subsequently reorganized under different socio-cultural conditions. The transition from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Aurignacian during HE 4 is one of these cultural turnover periods, which saw the final (macro-scale) extinction of Neanderthals and their widespread replacement by Anatomically Modern Humans. More specifically, and recognizable by comparisons with other climatically extreme Glacial periods (i.e. HE 3, and HE 2), the model excludes the survival of geographically wider (supra-regional) human networks, but it does allow for (micro-scale) survival of scattered groups. From this model, some kind of admixture between Neanderthals and incoming groups of modern humans would indeed have been possible on a small scale. If this climatic scenario turns out to be correct, the most spectacular thing about Neanderthal disappearance might actually lie in the seemingly unspectacular nature of the processes involved. © 2010.

Schmidt I.,Neanderthal Museum | Schmidt I.,University of Cologne | Bradtmoller M.,Neanderthal Museum | Bradtmoller M.,University of Cologne | And 7 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

Due to its diverse geographic and climatic conditions, the Iberian Peninsula is well suited for studies into the relationship between climate, environment and hunter-gatherer adaptation. With focus on the archaeological record, this paper examines to what extent diachronic variations in site density on the Iberian Peninsula are related to climate variability and cultural change. Studies are based on a comprehensive record of technocomplexes that date from the late Middle Palaeolithic, early Upper Palaeolithic, Gravettian and Solutrean. The record comprises altogether 152 archaeological cave sites and rock shelters. Analysis reveals strong regional differences between Northern and Southern Iberia, both in isochronic and in diachronic perspective. This is expressed by the strongly different patterns of human presence in these regions. In particular, within both regions major cultural changes coincide with the environmental impact of North Atlantic Heinrich Events (HE). From previous studies, it is known that the human population on the Iberian Peninsula (IP) must have suffered strongly under the extremely variable climate conditions during the Late Pleistocene. Based on extensive site-mapping, the hypothesis is that during HE a major disintegration of habitats must have occurred, with various but strongly isolated patchy refugia remaining. Further, during HE, Southern Iberia could not uphold its previous function in providing a reliable refuge for humans. Not only does climatic deterioration during the different HE repeatedly lead to a near-complete breakdown of settlement patterns, but following each HE there is a major reorganization in settlement patterns on the IP. © 2012.

Linstadter J.,University of Cologne | Medved I.,University of Cologne | Solich M.,University of Cologne | Weniger G.-C.,Neanderthal Museum
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The Neolithisation of the southern Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Maghreb, here termed "Alboran territory", must be considered as the same integrative process. By the mid-8th millennium calBP, both sides of the Western Mediterranean were inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups which probably maintained intercontinental contacts. However, from around 7.6 ka calBP, Neolithic groups from the Eastern Mediterranean arrived in the region along the littoral of what is today Andalusia. Neolithic innovations were adopted step by step by local Epipalaeolithic groups and subsequently dispersed via already existing networks. At the same time indigenous elements were integrated into this transitional process. The model presented here is supported by the available archaeological data from both sides of the Alboran territory. New 14C-data confirm the simultaneity of the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Spain and northern Morocco. Results are discussed considering models and concepts from social anthropology dealing with migration and acculturation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Alvermann J.,Neanderthal Museum
UbiComp 2016 Adjunct - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing | Year: 2016

With the App "Neanderthal+", the Neanderthal Museum started a beacon-based mobile media solution, that offers visitors service-oriented, interactive and participative content at and around the museum. In addition, the app is part of a research project at the University of Cologne to evaluate the use and effects of mobile media in the the museum space, that now has been extended to the Nature Museum, Chicago. © 2016 ACM.

News Article | March 4, 2016

An exhibit shows the life of a neanderthal family in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Nikola Solic More WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Research showing that our species interbred with Neanderthals some 100,000 years ago is providing intriguing evidence that Homo sapiens ventured out of Africa much earlier than previously thought, although the foray appears to have fizzled. Scientists said on Wednesday an analysis of the genome of a Neanderthal woman whose remains were found in a cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia near the Russia-Mongolia border detected residual DNA from Homo sapiens, a sign of inter-species mating. Previous research had established that Homo sapiens and our close cousins the Neanderthals interbred around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, said geneticist Sergi Castellano of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. The new study, published in the journal Nature, indicates that additional interbreeding also occurred tens of thousands of years earlier. Our species arose in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago and later migrated to other parts of the world. Geneticist Martin Kuhlwilm of Spain's Universitat Pompeu Fabra, who worked on the study at the Max Planck Institute, said a very likely scenario explaining the Homo sapiens DNA in theNeanderthal woman's genome is that a small population of ourspecies trekked out of Africa and encountered Neanderthalsin the Middle East, and interbreeding occurred there. Their journey appears to have been what researchers called a failed dispersal from Africa, with no descendants going on to colonize Europe, Asia and points beyond. "We don't know what happened to them. It seems likely that this population went extinct, either by environmental changes or maybe direct competition with Neanderthals," Kuhlwilm said. "This seems to have happened during a much earlier migration out of Africa than previously thought. It implies that modern humans left Africa in several waves, some of which probably went extinct." The robust, large-browed Neanderthals prospered across Europe and Asia from about 350,000 years ago until shortly after 40,000 years ago, disappearing in the period after our species established itself in the region. Despite an outdated reputation as our dimwitted cousins, scientists say Neanderthals were highly intelligent, with complex hunting methods, likely use of spoken language and symbolic objects, and sophisticated fire usage. Neanderthal interbreeding with Homo sapiens had a lasting impact on human genetics. A study published last week in the journal Science revealed a link between residual Neanderthal DNA in the human genome and traits in people including depression, nicotine addiction, blood-clotting and skin lesions.

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