According to a recent research, Neanderthals lived in tiny, closely knit groups, and females may have moved there to live with their partners.
A father and his adolescent daughter who coexisted in Siberia more than 50,000 years ago were included in the study’s rare glimpse of Neanderthal family interactions.
DNA was able to be extracted from microscopic bone pieces discovered in two Russian caves. They utilized the genetic information to map out links between 13 distinct Neanderthals and get insight into how they lived in their research, which was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
anthropologist Bence Viola of the University of Toronto remarked, “When I work on a bone or two, it’s really easy to forget that these are truly individuals with their own lives and experiences.” Realizing their connections to one another “truly makes them much more human.”
The Neanderthals, our distant ancestors, inhabited Europe and Asia for tens of thousands of years. They perished some 40,000 years ago, not long after our species, Homo sapiens, crossed the Atlantic from Africa and settled in Europe.
Only lately have researchers been able to delve into the DNA of these early people. Svante Paabo, a recent Nobel winner and co-author of this work, released the first draft of a Neanderthal genome a little more than ten years ago.
According to the principal author and geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Laurits Skov, scientists have now sequenced the genomes of 18 Neanderthals. But he said that it was unusual to find many Neanderthal bones from the same period and location, which is why these cave finds were so noteworthy.
This would be the place to locate a Neanderthal society, according to Skov.
Skov’s team also discovered members of another Neanderthal family: a man and female who were second-degree relatives—in addition to the father and his adolescent daughter, according to Nature.
Skov said that the situation “makes you question what the family dynamic between these people was and how they were engaging with one other.” A brief glance inside a Neanderthal household, according quote the author.
According to Viola, the caverns, which are tucked away in the distant hillsides above a river valley, have been a rich source of items, including stone tools and fossil bits. Researchers believe that Neanderthals may have used the caves as a temporary hunting halt because of their excellent vantage point of migratory herds in the valley below.
According to Viola, at least a dozen individual Neanderthals’ bones have been discovered by archaeologists digging the caverns. These fragments of bones, which often consist of “a finger bone here, a tooth there,” are sufficient for researchers to gather important DNA information.
A few family members may be found by the researchers in the group. There were also two other family members there, either a kid and his aunt or a couple of cousins, in addition to the father and daughter.
Overall, the research revealed that the group members shared a significant amount of DNA. The scientists came to the conclusion that this indicates that Neanderthals, at least in this region, lived in extremely tiny groups of 10 to 20 people.
The survey found that not all members of these groups remained where they were.
The Y chromosome, which is carried down on the father’s side, and other genetic hints from mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down on the mother’s side, were examined by researchers.
Females may have travelled about more than men, according to Skov, since the female side of the family revealed greater genetic variations than the male side. It’s feasible that a female Neanderthal might leave her household to live with her partner’s family after finding a mate.
Even while there are still many unanswered concerns concerning Neanderthal social structures and lifestyles, University of Wisconsin anthropologist John Hawks, who was not involved in the study, said the discovery was an interesting use of ancient DNA data.
Hawks compared understanding how early people lived to “putting together a jigsaw where we have many, many missing parts.” The research, however, only adds “a lot more pieces to the table,” as the saying goes.
Neanderthals and humans may have coexisted for up to 2,900 years in France and northern Spain, according to modeling study published earlier this month. This gave them plenty of opportunity to exchange knowledge and even reproduce.