PerspectiveAnthropology

Neanderthal surf and turf

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Science  27 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6485, pp. 1422-1423
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb3568

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Summary

Humans share a deep bond with coasts and oceans. More than 500 million people live in coastal communities, and beaches and seafood attract tourists from around the world. Archaeological research in southern Africa revealed early human coastal adaptations that occurred at least as far back as ∼160,000 years ago (1) in the Middle Stone Age (MSA)—the cultural period of the earliest Homo sapiens. Paleolithic sites across Africa and elsewhere support the hypothesis that coastal adaptations have a long and lasting history. Yet, scientists still debate the importance of coastal adaptations for the evolution and dispersal of H. sapiens during the Pleistocene (Ice Age) (2). On page 1443 of this issue, Zilhão et al. (3) tackle an even more contentious issue with wide-ranging implications for human evolution: Did Neanderthals share our species' interest in oceans and their inhabitants?

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