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Neandertals

Neandertal populations existed in the western part of Eurasia between 500,000 and around 40,000 years ago. They are among the best known fossil relatives of humans, and DNA evidence shows that some Neandertals were among the ancestors of people today.

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Vagrant birds and ancient human habitats

People killed the Carolina parakeet. An inquiry into their historic population range helps illustrate the challenges of understanding ancient human populations.

A painting showing several green parakeets in varied poses
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Top 10 discoveries about ancient people from DNA in 2023

This year's highlights include ways of finding ancient relatives, how some phenotypes evolved in ancient people, and trace evidence from artifacts.

DNA molecular models on a cloudy background
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Climate models, Neandertals, and Denisovans

A new paper on biogeography of Neandertals and Denisovans raises ideas about the interactions of these groups.

A Neandertal-looking person dressed in animal skins lifting a stick and looking at a misty sunrise on snow.
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Debates about Neandertal cave art miss the point of their visual culture

Humans today live in visually rich environments, and it's increasingly clear that Neandertals shaped their visual environments also.

A flowstone with a broken edge revealing a line of red ochre, red pigment on its surface.
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New evidence is revealing the ages of death, birth, and menarche in Neandertals

Analysis of dental cementum is yielding new insights into the ages when ancient people faced significant physiological stresses.

A Neandertal woman with two children clinging to her, an older woman tends a fire and a child looks on from the background
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Many people have a little Neandertal in the brain. Does it matter?

Research has started to show the ways that introgressed genes from Neandertals affect brain shape in living people.

Anatomical model of a brain
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When did our ancestors start looking up to the stars?

Changes in the sky have been important to peoples throughout the world. That connection may go back much further than our species.

A sculpture of a caveman looking up toward a starry Milky Way
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Ancient amputations tell remarkable stories of survival and care

A 33,000-year-old case of an amputated leg prompts comparisons to earlier Neandertal instances of amputation.

Skull of the Shanidar 1 individual with portions of the upper body skeleton visible, on a blue velvet table
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The Nesher Ramla site: a third way between Neandertals and modern humans?

Fragments representing people who lived just before Skhūl and Qafzeh seem outside the expectations for these “early modern humans” or for Neandertals.

Archaeologists working on a large, terraced excavation area under a white canopy.
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A Neandertal recipe that tasted like the foods of later people

Looking at a fascinating new study that finds mixtures of different plants within ancient morsels of charred foods.

A micrograph with a grass leaf cell structure visible surrounded by chunky blobs of stuff