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Neanderthals Much Older Than Expected

Neanderthals Much Older Than Expected

According to new research, Neanderthals became extinct about 10,000 years earlier than was previously presumed. This means that modern humans and Neanderthals probably didn’t mingle much.

Thanks to a new and improved method of carbon dating, researchers discovered that the ‘youngest’ Neanderthal bones ever found, are actually 39,000 years old. Modern humans started migrating from the Near East to Europe 44,000 years ago, so the overlap is not as extensive as most archaeologists believed it to be. “There was a degree of contemporaneity, but it may not have been very long,” said Thomas Higham, who supervised the study. However, this does not answer the question why 2,5 % of the human genome is derived from Neanderthals. Higham believes that humans and Neanderthals did not interbreed 40,000 years ago, but rather 100,000 years ago when the two species met in the Near East. Empirical evidence for this theory, however, has not yet been found. Modern humans and Neanderthals occupied the same sites in what is now Israel, but it is not clear that the populations overlapped.

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