Researcher: Modern man, Neanderthals interacted, even mated





Researchers have long debated what happened when the indigenous Neanderthals of Europe met "modern humans" arriving from Africa starting some 40,000 years ago. The end result was the disappearance of the Neanderthals, but what happened during the roughly 10,000 years that the two human species shared a land?

A new review of the fossil record from that period has come up with a provocative conclusion: The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated.

How often this happened will never be known, but paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus says it probably occurred more often than is generally imagined.

In his latest work, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed prehistoric fossil remains from various parts of Europe. He concluded that a significant number have attributes associated with both Neanderthals and the modern humans who replaced them.

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