Modern Humans and Neanderthals May Have Shared Ideas for Tools

Neanderthals, who are the closest extinct relative to humans, went away some 40,000 years ago. Still, their existence overlapped with modern humans, and the two species even interbred. Now, modeling research has focused on providing a good starting point for where the two species overlapped and even exchanged tools and ideas.

Modern Humans and Neanderthals May Have Shared Ideas for Tools

Humans and Neanderthals Exchanged Ideas and Tools

A recent new paper indicated that Neanderthals and modern humans might have also shared some culture where they coexisted. The research showed that the two species who lived in what’s now France and northern Spain had overlapped for almost 3,000 years, and they even exchanged tools and ideas. To reach this conclusion, scientists recalculated the dates of some 40,000-year-old artifacts from these regions. This study has confirmed previous work that also showed a considerable overlap of thousands of years between different human populations in western Europe.

Scientists Studies Many Tools and Artifacts

Other scientists have stated that the dates in the new paper have wide margins of error, criticizing whether or not the two species actually coexisted in this region. According to them, more accurate dating might allow scientists to arrive at another conclusion. Still, it is clear that modern humans and Neanderthals did interact in Europe, but researchers are trying to determine in which specific regions this actually happened and point out specific facts, like the suggestion that the two species shared ideas for tools.

Using radiocarbon dating, the new study made an attempt to update previous estimates for the ages of 56 artifacts. Half the artifacts were from Neanderthals and half from modern humans. They were found at 17 sites in France and Spain and also looked at ten Neanderthal specimens. The dating measured the amount of carbon-14, but the amount of that particular isotope was altered when the Earth’s magnetic field briefly reversed some 42,000 years ago, producing bad data. So, scientists did a new study using modeling and revealed that tools associated with humans actually appeared in the region between 42,200 and 42,600 years ago, while the tools of Neanderthals disappeared between 40,800 and 39,800 years ago. This showed a period of overlap lasting from 1,400 to 2,800 years.