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Spanish Neanderthals died out earlier than previously thought

New radiocarbon dating performed on Neanderthal fossils found in southern Spain suggests that they died out 10,000-15,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Its results have implications for when and where we – modern humans – might have co-existed with our evolutionary “cousins”, the Neanderthals.

“The picture emerging is of an overlapping period [in Europe] that could be of the order of perhaps 3,000-4,000 years – a period over which we have a mosaic of modern humans being present and then Neanderthals slowly ebbing away, and finally becoming extinct,” explained co-author Prof Thomas Higham from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford, UK.

“What our research contributes is that in southern Spain, Neanderthals don’t hang on for another 4,000 years compared with the rest of Europe. And the hunch must be that they go extinct in the south of Spain at the same time as everywhere else,” he told BBC News.

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Story: Jonathan Amos, BBC News | Photo: SPL

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