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      Neanderthal Subsistence in Portugal: What Evidence?

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      Archaeology International

      Ubiquity Press

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          Abstract

          A total of 270 Middle Palaeolithic sites are recorded in the Portuguese Archaeology Archive. Of these, only a few have been systematically excavated and shown to present valuable archaeological information or reliable absolute dating evidence. Just 13 sites yielded animal remains. Most of these assemblages, however, are of indeterminate origin or are the result of natural or carnivore accumulations. Only three sites yielded faunal assemblages produced by hominin activity: Gruta Nova da Columbeira, Gruta da Figueira Brava and Gruta da Oliveira. The following research update summarises and contextualises findings from the last two of these caves, which are presently being investigated as part of a funded doctoral research project based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. As discussed below, the project has already yielded substantial information on Neanderthal subsistence and palaeoenvironment in Portugal.

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          The landscape of Neandertal ancestry in present-day humans

          Analyses of Neandertal genomes have revealed that Neandertals have contributed genetic variants to modern humans 1–2 . The antiquity of Neandertal gene flow into modern humans means that regions that derive from Neandertals in any one human today are usually less than a hundred kilobases in size. However, Neandertal haplotypes are also distinctive enough that several studies have been able to detect Neandertal ancestry at specific loci 1,3–8 . Here, we have systematically inferred Neandertal haplotypes in the genomes of 1,004 present-day humans 12 . Regions that harbor a high frequency of Neandertal alleles in modern humans are enriched for genes affecting keratin filaments suggesting that Neandertal alleles may have helped modern humans adapt to non-African environments. Neandertal alleles also continue to shape human biology, as we identify multiple Neandertal-derived alleles that confer risk for disease. We also identify regions of millions of base pairs that are nearly devoid of Neandertal ancestry and enriched in genes, implying selection to remove genetic material derived from Neandertals. Neandertal ancestry is significantly reduced in genes specifically expressed in testis, and there is an approximately 5-fold reduction of Neandertal ancestry on chromosome X, which is known to harbor a disproportionate fraction of male hybrid sterility genes 20–22 . These results suggest that part of the reduction in Neandertal ancestry near genes is due to Neandertal alleles that reduced fertility in males when moved to a modern human genetic background.
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            U-Th dating of carbonate crusts reveals Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art

            The extent and nature of symbolic behavior among Neandertals are obscure. Although evidence for Neandertal body ornamentation has been proposed, all cave painting has been attributed to modern humans. Here we present dating results for three sites in Spain that show that cave art emerged in Iberia substantially earlier than previously thought. Uranium-thorium (U-Th) dates on carbonate crusts overlying paintings provide minimum ages for a red linear motif in La Pasiega (Cantabria), a hand stencil in Maltravieso (Extremadura), and red-painted speleothems in Ardales (Andalucía). Collectively, these results show that cave art in Iberia is older than 64.8 thousand years (ka). This cave art is the earliest dated so far and predates, by at least 20 ka, the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which implies Neandertal authorship.
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              Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals 115,000 years ago

              U-Th dating of archaeological deposits of Cueva de los Aviones provides evidence for Neandertal symbolism 115,000 years ago.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2048-4194
                Archaeology International
                Ubiquity Press
                2048-4194
                05 December 2018
                2018
                : 21
                : 1
                : 95-100
                Affiliations
                [1 ]UCL Institute of Archaeology, London WC1H 0PY, UK
                Article
                10.5334/ai-376
                Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Categories
                Research update

                Archaeology, Cultural studies

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                Volume 21, Issue 1

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