(Mirror Daily, United States) – A recent study questions our previous knowledge regarding Neanderthals, the hominin species which resembles ours the most. After performing another analysis on several fossils found in Vindija Cave in Croatia, researchers came to the conclusion that they had wrongly estimated their age.
Over 40 years ago, researchers stumbled upon the most popular Neanderthal fossils in this Croatian cave. Together with the hominin bones, they also found a series of peculiar tools. Some of them looked like they had been made by Neanderthals, while others were unusually modern.
According to the previous knowledge on human migration, researchers thought the first human came in Europe from Africa around 40,000 years ago. Therefore, they thought these two populations of different species overlapped, and maybe even interacted.
The Neanderthal fossils first underwent radiocarbon dating in 1999. Back then, researchers estimated they were about 28,000 or 29,000 years old. In 2006, they decided to take another look at them, and perform another session of dating, and came up with different results. The fossils seemed to be older, namely between 32,000 and 34,000 years old.
The Vindija Neanderthal fossils were actually much older
However, another testing session recently performed on the remnants changed everything. Researchers also used carbon dating, but they dated the amino acids present the collagen in the bones. Also, they tested some of the other remnants, and the tools. Then, it turned out the Neanderthal fossils are extremely old, namely 40,000 years old.
All the other fossils present in the cave revealed why all of the artifacts got mixed. Researchers identified the traces of many bear bones among the artifacts. Therefore, these animals might have been responsible with mixing up all the fossils, and disturbing the natural layers they had initially arranged into.
Therefore, it seems the Neanderthals from Vindija were not among the last of their kind. Also, they couldn’t have interacted with the first humans. Even so, these fossils still remain of a great scientific value, as they helped with the discovery of many important facts about this hominin population.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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