Recent discoveries and reappraisals of ancient finds suggest that Neandertals were engaged in symbolically mediated behavior before the earliest appearance of anatomically modern humans in Europe.
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In this study we report on a fragmentary Miocene-Pliocene fossil marine shell, , discovered in a Discoid Mousterian layer of the Fumane Cave, northern Italy, dated to at least 47.6-45.0 Cal ky BP.
The shell was collected by Neandertals at a fossil exposure probably located more than 100 kms from the site.
“Based on the fossil hairs identified here, this research has established that brown hyenas shared the Sterkfontein Valley with hominins, warthog, impala, zebra and kudu,” authors Phillip Taru and Lucinda Backwell of the University of the Witwatersrand wrote.
They continued, “Apart from humans, these animals are associated with savanna grasslands, much like the Highveld environment of today.” or modern humans.” The hair lacked scales, which could provide yet another useful clue.
Dispersive X-ray and Raman analysis identify the pigment as pure hematite.