Up until recently, it was a common held belief that Neanderthals and modern humans got to coexist for a while in central and southern Iberia.
However, a new study published in the PNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) says that the Neanderthals had ceased to occupy these regions long before modern human made an appearance in this part of the world.
This new research into Neanderthals and their potential interactions with modern humans was carried out by an international team of scientists.
These specialists used new technologies in order to pin down the exact moment in history when said subspecies of the genus Homo fell off the biodiversity map of central and southern Iberia.
Their findings suggest that, rather than continuing to inhabit these lands until roughly 30,000 years ago, as previously thought, the Neanderthals disappeared from these regions roughly 45,000 years ago.
EurekAlert! quotes Jesús F. Jordá, one of this study's co-authors, who commented on his and his fellow researchers' findings as follows:
“It is improbable that the last Neanderthals of central and southern Iberia would have persisted until such a late date, approximately 30,000 years ago, as we thought before the new dates appeared.”
In order to reach these conclusions concerning Neanderthals and their possibly coexisting with modern humans in the central and southern Iberia, the researchers have added a so-called ultrafiltration protocol to the radiocarbon dating method typically used when investigating such issues.
This allowed them to purify the bones they had at their disposal for tests from contaminants, something which in turn translated into their being able to place the Neanderthal occupation of the sites under investigation at about 45,000 years ago.
“Although it is still controversial to change the theory in force, the new concept, which presents new data indicating that Neanderthals and H. sapiens did not co-exist in Iberia, is becoming accepted,” Jesús F. Jordá said about the significance of these findings.