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Reactions to the study that calculates when Neanderthals and modern humans coincided in northern Spain and France

Modern humans may have coexisted with Neanderthals in northern Spain and France between 1,400 and 2,900 years before the disappearance of Neanderthals, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

13/10/2022 - 17:00 CEST

The last Neanderthals are believed to have produced stone knives in France and northern Spain. Author: Igor Djakovic.

Expert reactions

Ana B. Marín - neandertales península EN

Ana B. Marín Arroyo

Professor of Prehistory and coordinator of the Master's Degree in Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Cantabria

Science Media Centre Spain

The results of the work by Djakovic et al. are in line with the data we have already published in Plos One (2018) where, after obtaining almost 50 new radiocarbon dates by ultrafiltration and applying Bayesian models, we were able to observe the same overlap between the Neanderthal populations carrying Châtelperronian technology and the first groups of modern humans in northern Spain.   

Recently, our study in Nature Ecology & Evolution (2022) shows, among other things, how the spatio-temporal replacement of Neanderthal populations by modern humans occurred throughout the Iberian Peninsula. 

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest

Marco de la Rasilla - neandertales península EN

Marco de la Rasilla Vives

Researcher in the area of Prehistory in the Department of History at the University of Oviedo

Science Media Centre Spain

The paper published in Scientific Reports deals with a topical issue that is, in some respects, the subject of much debate. The available data have been used, which, in principle, are of the highest quality. Appropriate statistical models have also been used to process the data and the general conclusion is very interesting and will have to be assessed in detail in order to definitively establish the Neanderthal/Sapiens transition in France and the Iberian Peninsula. 

However, the incorporation of sites from the Iberian Peninsula outside the northern area is missing in order to have a complete view of the phenomenon, since the so-called "Ebro frontier" seems not to be feasible. On the other hand, no mention is made of the important taphonomic problems that are being detected in the sites, which affect both the interstratigraphic contamination and the entity of the sites under analysis. 

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest
Optimal linear estimation models predict 1400–2900 years of overlap between Homo sapiens and Neandertals prior to their disappearance from France and northern Spain
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Igor Djakovic et al.

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