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14 December 2011
Were Neanderthals our earliest builders?

A debate has started on the origin and provenance of a mammoth bone structure which is being researched in Molodova, Ukraine. The site, first excavated in 1950 CE, is being researched by a team from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (France). The structure in question has been made from the tusks, ribs and other larger parts of mammoths, which were then placed in a shallow trench to form a circular structure. There is evidence within this circle of butchery, cooking (15 fire pits have been excavated) and eating.
     The two opposing views centre on whether this was constructed by Homo Sapiens or by Neanderthals. The view for the Neanderthals is represented by archaeologist Laetitia Demay of the Paris team. She believes that the stone tools found on the site are typical of the Neanderthals that lived in Europe and west Asia. The opposing view is championed by archaeologist John Hoffecker, of the University of Colorado Boulder (USA). He believes that Homo sapiens arrivals from Africa, some 45,000 years ago, copied the Neanderthal stone tools and that lack of any further fossil evidence at the Molodova site leaves the identity of the builders unresolved.

Edited from Science News (2 December 2011)

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