© Hugues PlissonLudovic Slimak and Pavel Pavlov examining a mammoth tusk in Byzovaya.
Remains found near the Arctic Circle characteristic of Mousterian culture1
have recently been dated at over 28,500 years old, which is more than 8,000 years after Neanderthals are thought to have disappeared. This unexpected discovery by an international multi-disciplinary team, including researchers from CNRS2
, challenges previous theories. Could Neanderthals have lived longer than thought? Or had Homo sapiens
already migrated to Europe at that stage?
The results are published in Science
of 13 May 2011.
The distinguishing feature of Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Palaeolithic (-300,000 to -33,000 years), is the use of a very wide range of flint tools, mainly by Neanderthal Man in Eurasia, but also by Homo sapiens
in the Near East.
This culture is considered to be archaic, and not sufficiently advanced to allow Neanderthals to settle in the most extreme northern climates. It is thought to have brought about their demise some 33,000 to 36,000 years ago. They seem to have made way for modern humans, who appear to have occupied the whole of Eurasia thanks to their mastery of more advanced technologies.