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Old 12-16-2010, 10:29 AM   #1
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Default The "Edge" through needles and skins.

"the Swanscombe find is important for another, crucial reason: the skull is that of a Neanderthal, that race of shadowy, evolutionary cousins of our own species who made complex stone tools and who once thrived in Europe before being wiped about 35,000 years ago, not long after modern humans had emerged from their African birthplace and had begun to spread across the planet."

"By any account, this was an extraordinary undertaking. Scientists only succeeded in unravelling the three billion units of DNA that make up the human genome in 2000. Yet within 10 years, Pääbo did the same for a species that had died out more than 30,000 years ago using only bones from Vindija cave in Croatia as his source material. It was simply "fabulous" research, says Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History."

"He describes Neanderthals as expert ambush hunters who used thick vegetation to stalk their prey. By contrast, modern humans, who had evolved on the African savannah, were better long-distance runners who could chase their prey over open land. Crucially, as modern humans – or Cro-Magnons, as these early invaders of Europe are also known – entered Europe, climatic change began thinning its dense woodlands and opening up the landscape, giving them a key advantage over Neanderthals. "The roulette wheel of life favoured one and not the other in a particular place and time. A slight change of time, place, climate or fortunes and a Neanderthal might have been writing these lines," Finlayson wrote recently in the Times."

Neanderthals: how needles and skins gave us the edge on our kissing cousins | Science | The Observer
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cromagnon, edge, evolution, genes, genetic, genome, history, human species, modern humans, neanderthal, neanderthal genome, needles, skins, survival, swanscombe skull

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