News FocusPaleoanthropology

New Work May Complicate History Of Neandertals and H. sapiens

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Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 224-225
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_224

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Summary

What were the evolutionary origins of the Neandertals, and how early did their close cousins, Homo sapiens, begin their highly successful colonization of the globe? Many anthropologists have concluded that fossil skulls from Europe show a steady progression from pre-Neandertal to Neandertal features. At a recent meeting in Gibraltar, however, some researchers held that recently redated fossils from a cave in Spain paint a more complicated picture, with two or more ancient human species living side by side in Europe for thousands of years. Meanwhile, stone tools found in Arabia and India suggest that Homo sapiens may have made its way out of Africa much earlier than 50,000 years ago, as usually assumed.