A group of scientists on the Channel Island of Jersey, which lies off the coast of France in the English Channel, discovered the home of the last living Neanderthals. The discovery was published this week in the Journal of Quaternary Science.
A Neanderthal is an extinct human subspecies different from the current homo sapiens.
Scientists made the discovery when a team set out to investigate and stabilize the La Cotte de St Brelade cave on the island’s southeastern coastline.
The sediments in a large part of the site date back to the last Ice Age, which preserved 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence.
The team used optically stimulated luminescence at Oxford University to measure the last time the sand grains were exposed to light in order to date the sediments at the site. The results showed that parts of the sediments date between 100,000 and 47,000 years old, which indicated the Neanderthal teeth discovered at the site in 1910 belonged to one of the last living Neanderthals in that region.
The site produced more Neanderthal tools than all of the British Isles put together, as well as the only known late Neanderthal remains from northwest Europe.
Scientists are hoping to link the site with other Neanderthal sites through the study of similarly aged sites around the island. Scientists have a sequence of deposits that span the last 120,000 years, which covers the period in which the Neanderthal species is believed to have gone extinct.
Scientists hope that, through this evidence, they may be able to better understand when the Neanderthals disappeared from the region and whether they ever shared the land with the species that replaced them.
Information compiled from Sciencedaily.com.