Neanderthals discovered in a cave in Gibraltar
15 September 2006, MADRID —An international team of scientists has found evidence in a cave in Gibraltar of the last Neanderthal settlement.
15 September 2006
MADRID —An international team of scientists has found evidence in a cave in Gibraltar of the last Neanderthal settlement.
The settlement, dating back to between 24,000 and 32,000 years ago, was revealed in an article published on Friday.
Until now, it was believed that Neanderthals were extinct by 30,000 years ago, but the new evidence from Gorham's Cave, located on the Mediterranean coast, shows that they lived "until more recent times," biologist Clive Finlayson, who is in charge of the research team, told EFE.
He said the bones of animals, such as ibex, deer and horses, found in the cave showed evidence of cuts, which was "a clear indication" of the use of spear points by Neanderthals to tear apart game for consumption.
The enormous cave, whose entrance is about 30 meters (some 33 yards) high, has not yielded any Neanderthal remains, leading scientists to conclude that it was not used for burials and may, instead, have been a meeting and eating site.
The Neanderthal tools and animal bones were found in the lowest level of the soil excavated, while artefacts from modern humans were dug up closer to the surface.
The oldest artefacts from modern humans date back about 18,500 years, which means that between that time and 24,000 years ago, when Neanderthals lived in the area, there is no evidence of any habitation, Finlayson said.
"It appears that at some point the Neanderthals disappeared and the cave remained uninhabited until the modern (humans) arrived," the biologist said.
The evidence from Gorham's Cave seems to cast doubt on the theory still commonly accepted in Europe that the arrival of modern humans from the Middle East and Africa caused the extinction of the Neanderthals.
The results of the research project, published in the magazine Nature, reveal, Finlayson said, that one day the Neanderthals disappeared and later modern humans arrived, at least in this cave, while in other areas of southern Spain the two groups may even have coexisted.
Gibraltar, a 5.5-square-kilometer (2.1-square-mile) territory in the southern Iberian Peninsula, has been a British Crown Colony since 1713.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news