What makes the new study interesting is that it proves that human ancestors were capable of developing such technological advancements even before the advent of modern humans. Not only did Neanderthals use stone tools, though, but they also adapted their body plans over many generations, adopting traits ranging from a squat to an even more slender shape. This is not the first time that modern humans have been shown to develop such techniques; archaeologists discovered the remains of Neanderthals that show evidence of these traits during the construction of a building using stone. Yet what makes this study different is that scientists can reconstruct the movements of Neanderthals and test their ability to kill or eat animals. As an extra source of evidence, the authors also measured the teeth of hundreds of Neanderthal skulls they examined and compared them to humans. And, surprisingly, the authors found that their skeletal features were quite distinct from modern humans.
Credit: Anand K. Singh, H.P. Soodyall, and R. J. Lohse, 2016. Neanderthal body plans show distinct variation across Europe and east Asia. Paleoanthropology 34:1127.
Study Details and Abstract
The Altai Mountains of central Asia are an important site for deciphering Late Pleistocene human anatomical data . Neanderthals may have occupied the mountains as far as the end of the Holocene, or as early as 20,000 years ago. Here we present a series of geochemical, isotopic and anthropometric analyses of human bone from both the Altai and nearby Altai-Altai Massif in northeast China, the highest mountain range in Europe. The skeletal data come from individuals dated to 0.54 to 0.79 ka, from a range of geographical locations on both the Altai and Altai-Altai Massif. It was found that the Altai-Altai Massif consists of different parts of the Altai, with a central part with little archaeological or fossil support. Instead, we find that the Altai-Altai Massif is essentially a mosaic of multiple parts of the Altai. This mosaic of different parts is very different from what we found in the Altai Mountains. In particular, we find the following: a north-south spine at an elevation of 2170 m, as opposed to the Altai-Altai Massif which is at approximately 2100 to 2300 m elevation, and a west-east spine at an elevation of 2170-2210 m, as opposed to 3100-3400 on the Altai-Altai Massif. These results suggest that there is a much greater spatial variation in Neandertal features than previously suggested, and that they were able to adapt to different climatic environments and geographic locations. In short, there is potential to find Neandertals today as late as 4000-4050 m, as well as from 6000-6000 years ago in these parts of European Eurasia. This is the first time that skeletal results from modern humans have been analyzed at the Altai Mountains.
Conclusion In short, there is likely a lot left on the table . I’m not so convinced that any group of humans went into southern Europe to create a new civilization, but I have no reason to believe that other groups didn’t try. I believe that Neanderthals would have had the ability to thrive in Europe even before humans arrived. Maybe not the entire continent, but any part of the continent. I don’t think that the Altai area is unique. I still believe that we lived on that continent millions of years earlier than archaeologists think.
Sources: http://www.paleoanthropology.org/2015/03/16/as-neanderthal-body-plan-reappears-in-nations-across-europe-after-40000-years/ http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/04/14/1615111512.full.pdf+html#page=40
Posted by Rafiq Ahmed at 9:14 PM