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Neanderthal fossils found in Greek cave

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 16:57

New York: Scientists have discovered 14 specimens of Neanderthal remains, including bones of children and adults, in a cave in Greece.

The discovery suggests ancient humans and Neanderthals may have crossed paths there.

Researchers from Germany, Greece and France analysed remains from a site known as Kalamakia, a cave stretching about 65 feet (20 metres) deep into limestone cliffs on the western coast of the Mani Peninsula on the mainland of Greece.

The archaeological deposits of the cave date back to between about 39,000 and 100,000 years ago to the Middle Paleolithic period, LiveScience reported.

They excavated the cave over the course of 13 years and found tools such as scrapers made of flint, quartz and seashells. The stone tools were all shaped, or knapped, in a way typical of Neanderthal artifacts.

The scientists discovered 14 specimens of child and adult human remains in the cave, including teeth, a small fragment of skull, a vertebra, and leg and foot bones with bite and gnaw marks on them.

The teeth strongly appear to be Neanderthal, and judging by marks on the teeth, the ancient people apparently had a diet of meat and diverse plants.

"Kalamakia, together with the single human tooth from the nearby cave site of Lakonis, are the first Neanderthal remains to be identified from Greece," paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati at the University of Tubingen in Germany told the website.

The discoveries are "confirmation of a thriving and long-standing Neanderthal population in the region."

These findings suggest "the fossil record from Greece potentially holds answers about the earliest dispersal of modern humans and earlier hominins into Europe, about possible late survival of Neanderthals and about one of the first instances where the two might have had the opportunity to interact," Harvati said.

The study was published in the Journal of Human Evolution.


First Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 16:57

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