Neandertals revised

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Roebroeks, Wil; Soressi, Marie
Year of Publication: 2016
Date Published: 2016/06/06
Publication Language: eng

The last decade has seen a significant growth of our knowledge of the Neandertals, a population of
Pleistocene hunter-gatherers who lived in (western) Eurasia between ∼400,000 and 40,000 y ago. Starting
from a source population deep in the Middle Pleistocene, the hundreds of thousands of years of relative
separation between African and Eurasian groups led to the emergence of different phenotypes in Late
Pleistocene Europe and Africa. Both recently obtained genetic evidence and archeological data show that
the biological and cultural gaps between these populations were probably smaller than previously
thought. These data, reviewed here, falsify inferences to the effect that, compared with their near-modern
contemporaries in Africa, Neandertals were outliers in terms of behavioral complexity. It is only around
40,000 y ago, tens of thousands of years after anatomically modern humans first left Africa and thousands
of years after documented interbreeding between modern humans, Neandertals and Denisovans, that we
see major changes in the archeological record, from western Eurasia to Southeast Asia, e.g., the emergence
of representational imagery and the colonization of arctic areas and of greater Australia (Sahul).



DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1521269113
Short Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences