Direct radiocarbon dating and genetic analyses on the purported Neanderthal mandible from the Monti Lessini (Italy)

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    Sahra Talamo, Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany, Mateja Hajdinjak, Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany,
  • Marcello Mannino
  • Leone Fasani, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy, Frido Welker, Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany, Fabio Martini, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo, 50122 Firenze, Italy, Francesca Romagnoli, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES), 43007 Tarragona, Spain, Roberto Zorzin, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona, Sezione di Geologia e Paleontologia, 37129 Verona, Italy, Matthias Meyer, Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Anatomically modern humans replaced Neanderthals in Europe around 40,000 years ago. The demise of the Neanderthals and the nature of the possible relationship with anatomically modern humans has captured our imagination and stimulated research for more than a century now. Recent chronological studies suggest a possible overlap between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans of more than 5,000 years. Analyses of ancient genome sequences from both groups have shown that they interbred multiple times, including in Europe. A potential place of interbreeding is the notable Palaeolithic site of Riparo Mezzena in Northern Italy. In order to improve our understanding of prehistoric occupation at Mezzena, we analysed the human mandible and several cranial fragments from the site using radiocarbon dating, ancient DNA, ZooMS and isotope analyses. We also performed a more detailed investigation of the lithic assemblage of layer I. Surprisingly we found that the Riparo Mezzena mandible is not from a Neanderthal but belonged to an anatomically modern human. Furthermore, we found no evidence for the presence of Neanderthal remains among 11 of the 13 cranial and post-cranial fragments re-investigated in this study.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29144
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jul 2016

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