News & AnalysisArchaeology

Did Neandertals Linger in Russia's Far North?

Science  13 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6031, pp. 778
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6031.778

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On page 841 of this week's issue of Science, a research team claims that some of the last Neandertals may have taken refuge in the dark Arctic north rather than the sunny south as archaeological evidence has indicated. At the 32,000-year-old site of Byzovaya in Russia's Polar Ural Mountains, which at 65 degrees latitude is as far north as Iceland, archaeologists found stone tools they argue are typical of those long associated with Neandertals in Europe. If Neandertals did make the tools, it would push Neandertals' range northward by 1000 kilometers, and the site would be one of the youngest claimed for Neandertals, especially since recent redating has moved many Neandertal sites earlier in time. It would also show that the cold-adapted Neandertals could survive the rigors of the Arctic.