Mellars on Neandertal-modern coexistence

Reuters is reporting on a study by Paul Mellars [UPDATE (8/31/05): Brad Gravina] and others concerning Neandertal-modern archaeological coexistence. Apparently, they have documented the interleaving of an Aurignacian level between two levels "attributed to Neanderthals".

The report says that the study is in this week's Nature. It isn't. So, I'll post again when I can find the paper.

It's not exactly clear to me what is new here. This is what Richard Klein wrote in 2003 (summary) about the archaeological interleaving of "Neandertal" and "modern" archaeological remains:

Evidence for cultural contact is also sparse, except for one well-documented case from central France. Here, a site occupied by Neanderthals shortly before their disappearance has provided an undeniable mix of Middle and Upper Paleolithic artifact types, including well-made bone tools and jewelry. It also contains the only indisputable house ruin from a Neanderthal site.

The current work refers to a different site, but the results are certainly not a surprise. Another case of Neandertal non-news news.

And Reuters adds insult to injury by posting the story with a picture of a Chinese woman looking at a reconstruction of Peking Man!

Now, if they actually found a modern human fossil in association with their "modern human" "Aurignacian" tools, that would be news!

UPDATE: A reader has kindly sent me the complete paper, discussed in a later post. Apologies to study author Brad Gravina, since my initial post followed Reuters in giving primary credit for the Chatelperron research to Paul Mellars; Mellars is a coauthor of the study.


Klein RG. 2003. Whither the Neanderthals? Science 299:1525-1527. Summary