When did the Neanderthals 'Really' Disappear from Europe?
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When did the Neanderthals ‘Really’ Disappear from Europe?

New fossil dates indicate that the ancient Neanderthals disappeared some 10,000 years earlier than we used to think.

According to a new study made public recently, Neanderthals from Europe who are believed to be the last survivors of the species are thousands of years older than what humans thought earlier. Exactly when our ancient cousins, the Neanderthals, went extinct from the continent of Europe is a much-discussed issue now. 

They are thought to disappear around forty thousand years ago, not much time later, to modern humans’ migration out from Africa. But the last study conducted on the remains founds from the Spy Cave of Belgium tell that they are as latest as around thirty-seven thousand years ago, making their owners some of the latest surviving European Neanderthals.

This discovery led experts from England, Germany, and Belgium to suspect that the specimens studied before could be unreliable due to impurities and contamination, resulting in an unclear conclusion. As per the experts, the impurities found on the remains meant that they were dated quite younger than their actual period of existence, maybe by up to 10,000 years.

This time specialists extracted out a sole amino acid from the remains belonging to the Neanderthals using the process of liquid chromatography operations. They utilized the process to reexamine all the specimens, which were now separated from all sorts of impurities such as glue.

The new process mentioned above is specially developed by Thibaut Deviese, the co-lead author from the Aix-Marseille University and the University of Oxford, and his teammates to minimize contaminants from affecting the overall result of any study.

Though the newly developed procedure still depends on radiocarbon dating (which is considered a prime standard of dating in archeology), the process improves the way through which remains are utilized.

All living things get food and carbon from the atmosphere, including the radioactive isotope of carbon, which decays with time.

Since the carbon absorption process stops once a living matter is dead, the amount of carbon that remains in the body tells how long ago the body lived whenever dated.

When it comes to dating bone structures, specialists remove the organic collagen-made parts. Not the whole chunk but the building blocks of a big collagen-made chunk called amino acids. 

After studying the remains of Spy Cave, Experts also reexamined those found at two different Belgian sites, Engis and Fonds-de-Forêt, and found the specimens were a synonymous age to those tested earlier.

An archeologist at the Scladina Cave Archaeological Centre, Grégory Abrams said in his statement, “Dating all these specimens was very electrifying as they had a crucial role in the understanding and the definition of Neanderthals.”

As per all these latest discoveries, specialists calculate that the primates Neanderthals went extinct from the European region much before what was previously calculated by Humans, nearly 44,200 to 40,500 years ago.  

Meanwhile, Genetic sequencing showed that the shoulder bone belonging to a Neanderthal which was formerly dated about 28,000 years ago was heavily diluted with DNA bovine, indicating that the fossil might have been preserved using a glue made of cow bones. 

The most crucial part of archeology is the dating of remains. Without a credible spice of chronology, it is almost impossible for analysts and experts to define the relationship between the much older Home Sapiens and Neanderthals, especially because humans came to Europe some forty-five thousand years ago when they have almost gone extinct. 

That is why methods like liquid chromatographic separation are exciting for scientists as it provides much more reliable and accurate dates. Though finding the accurate dates through a better approach answered a few important questions, it opened quite a few suspicious topics too, for example for how long did early modern humans and neanderthals overlap? 

Having a near-to-exact idea of when our ancient cousins, the Neanderthals, went extinct might have raised a lot of new conspiracies but the discovery surely has importance. A firm date of disappearance can be the first step toward starting to know more about their capabilities and nature, as well as why they disappeared from the earth while our ancestors lived.

All the research and discoveries bundled with new questions are disclosed in the publication “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

About Tehreem Fatima

Tehreem Fatima is an experienced writer/essayist who has collaborated with different platforms over the past year. You can reach her out at any time!

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