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19 January 2017
Neanderthals associated with Chatelperronian tool technology

An international team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany has demonstrated that Neanderthals were responsible for the Chatelperronian, a transitional tool-making industry from central and southwestern France and northern Spain.
     Transitional industries are a key to understanding the process by which modern humans replaced Neanderthals in western Eurasia at the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic, between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago. The older Mousterian industry of the Middle Palaeolithic in Europe can be clearly attributed to Neanderthals, and the later Upper Palaeolithic assemblages to modern humans. The makers of the Chatelperronian industry has long been disputed.
     Chatelperronian assemblages from the widely separated Grotte du Renne and Saint Cesaire archaeological sites in France have yielded well-identified Neanderthal remains. At the Grotte du Renne, 200 kilometres southeast of Paris, Chatelperronian layers also produced sophisticated bone tools and body ornaments.
     Using peptide mass fingerprinting, the team identified 28 additional hominin specimens among previously unidentifiable bone fragments at the Grotte du Renne. It is thought the bone fragments most likely represent the remains of a single, immature, breastfed individual, with radiocarbon dating consistent with Neanderthal ancestry.
     Study co-author and University of York Professor Matthew Collins says: "These methods open up new avenues of research throughout Late Pleistocene contexts in which hominin remains are scarce and where the biological nature of remains is unclear due to ancient DNA not being preserved."
     Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin, study co-author and Director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology says: "The process of replacement of archaic local populations by modern humans in Eurasia is still poorly understood, as the makers of many palaeolithic tool-kits of this time period remain unknown. This type of research now allows us to extract unrecognisable human fragments out of large archaeological assemblages and to revisit the mode and the tempo of this major event in human evolution with fresh material."

Edited from Sci News (23 September 2016)

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