There have been so many interesting developments in the last year in our understanding of Neanderthals, from breeding, to origins, to range. Here is the summary of some new work on their possible “last stand”:
The Ural Mountains site “may be one of the last [refuges] of the Neanderthals, and that would be very exciting,” said study leader Ludovic Slimak, an archaeologist at France’s Université de Toulouse le Mirail.
Neanderthals dominated Europe for some 200,000 years until modern humans began moving into the region about 45,000 years ago. The two human species likely shared space for a while, but it’s a mystery what happened during that period, how long it lasted, and why Homo sapiens prevailed in the end.
Previous archaeological evidence had placed the last known Neanderthal refuges on the Iberian Peninsula, home to current-day Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar. (See “Neanderthals” Last Stand Was in Gibraltar, Study Suggests.”)
“Not surprisingly, it was in the peripheral areas”—Iberia and perhaps northwestern Europe—”that Neanderthals remained the longest as discrete populations,” said Neanderthal expert Erik Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who wasn’t part of the new study.