Scientists working in the south of France have discovered a small Neanderthal cord fragment dating back to over 41,000 years ago. It’s now the oldest evidence of fibre technology in the archaeological record, and further testament to the remarkable cognitive abilities of these extinct humans.
Before we became the only remaining humans on the planet, Homo sapiens mated with Neanderthals and the closely related Denisovans. New research is now revealing that the common ancestor of Neanderthals and Denisovans interbred with its own predecessor, a population of “superarchaic” hominids.
Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) fossils were first discovered in western Europe in the mid nineteenth century. That was just the first in a long line of surprises thrown up by our closest evolutionary cousins.