Unraveling the mystery of the last Neanderthals' ancient life

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,- The Neanderthal species remains an intriguing enigma for scientists and historians during their extensive exploration of time. Nevertheless, amidst these enigmas from bygone eras, the quartet of caves situated in Gibraltar provides a captivating insight into the possible lifestyles of ancient civilizations, spanning millennia.

Neanderthals, an ancient human species that inhabited Europe for over 300,000 years, coexisted not only with modern humans but also with other human species. For the past four millennia, Europe has been inhabited by many human species, including Neanderthals, who have physical similarities with contemporary humans but have distinct traits such as a more robust physique and larger eyebrows.

Scientists have shown that Neanderthals do not possess inherent physical frailty. Homo sapiens have only been able to exist on Earth for a period of time less than 200,000 years, which is significantly shorter than the amount of time they have been able to survive. Nevertheless, the evidence of their presence vanished approximately 28,000 years ago, providing us with a reliable estimate of their extinction timeframe.

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Gibraltar, which received World Heritage status from UNESCO in 2016, has attracted scholars' interest because of the presence of four substantial caverns in the area. Gorham Cave, which has served as an excavation site for an extended period, is one of them. The fossil findings of skulls and other objects in these caves have yielded vital information about the lifestyle of Neanderthals.

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Clive Finlayson, the Archaeological director of the Gibraltar Museum, asserts that Gorham Cave is crucial for comprehending the latter phase of Neanderthal existence. The unearthing of the initial fully developed Neanderthal cranium in 1848 initiated extensive investigation on the presence of this prehistoric individual in the area. Throughout the years, an extensive collection of artifacts and Neanderthal skeletal remains have been discovered within the cave systems.

By analyzing the stratified deposits in the cave, specialists are able to ascertain the temporal presence of Neanderthals in the vicinity. Evidence from fossilized bones discovered in these strata suggests that Neanderthal populations have occupied these caverns for a period exceeding 100,000 years.

Archaeological findings indicate that the final Neanderthals likely inhabited Gibraltar between 24,000 to 33,000 years ago. They effectively utilize their environment by relying on marine mammals and huge species such as mammoths and fur reptiles to fulfill their dietary requirements.

Neanderthals, besides their hunting skills, are recognized for their utilization of diverse tools. Furthermore, there is substantial evidence suggesting that they might have had possessed artistic expressions and adorned themselves with jewelry. The findings in Gorham Cave, such as the presence of gravel on the cave walls and the utilization of red oker pigment, indicate the potential existence of art and culture in the life of its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, while possessing characteristics akin to those of contemporary humans, Neanderthals ultimately became extinct due to their inability to adapt to environmental pressures and contend with modern Homo sapiens. The extinction of certain species may be attributed to climate change and their limited capacity to adjust to alterations in their habitat.

However, the genetic and cultural imprints of these ancient people persist in present-day populations. The majority of the Neanderthal DNA remains present in contemporary humans, serving as proof of the close ancestral relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans in the course of human evolution.

The findings at Gorham Cave and other caves in Gibraltar offer significant knowledge about Neanderthal existence and their contribution to the development of humanity. By gaining a more comprehensive comprehension of historical events, we can get a greater appreciation for the enduring impact left behind by this ancient species and enhance our understanding of the chronicles of human history.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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