London: Neanderthals learned how to make jewellery and sophisticated tools from the ancestors of modern humans, a new study suggests.
New high precision radiocarbon dating shows that a cultural exchange may have taken place between modern humans and Neanderthals in France and Spain more than 40,000 years ago, the Daily Mail reported.
The findings have important implications for our understanding of our long-extinct sister species.
If Neanderthals made the ornaments, they must have been capable of symbolic behaviour thought to be unique to man.
Artefacts discovered strewn among the remains of Neanderthals in the Grotte du Renne cave in central France and several other locations have long puzzled anthropologists.
Belonging to what archaeologists term the Chatelperronian culture, a transitional industry from south-west France and northern Spain, it has been hotly debated whether they were made by Neanderthals or humans.
The artefacts bear all the hallmarks of production by humans, but their discovery among Neanderthal remains has suggested that they were the work of our rugged evolutionary cousins.
Previous research had suggested that the artefacts were in fact produced by human ancestors before settling into deeper layers of cave strata until they sat among the earlier remains of Neanderthals.
But now the findings of an international team from the Max Planck Institute, Germany, suggest that the tools and body ornaments were indeed produced by Neanderthals - but only after humans arrived in the area.
The so-called “transitional industries” like the Chatelperronian culture are a key for understanding the replacement process of Neanderthals by modern humans in western Eurasia at the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago.