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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 17;102(20):7085-90. Epub 2005 May 6.

A late Neandertal femur from Les Rochers-de-Villeneuve, France.

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  • 1Institut de Préhistoire et de Géologie du Quaternaire and Laboratoire d'Anthropologie des Populations du Passé, Unité Mixte de Recherche, Université de Bordeaux, Talence, France. c.beauval@ipgq.u-bordeaux1.fr


In 2002, a Neandertal partial femoral diaphysis was discovered at Les Rochers-de-Villeneuve (Vienne, France). Radiocarbon dated to approximately 40,700 14C years before present, this specimen is one of the most recent Middle Paleolithic Neandertals. The diaphysis derives from an archeological level indicating alternating human and carnivore (mostly hyena) occupation of the cave, reinforcing the close proximity and probable competition of Middle Paleolithic humans with large carnivores for resources and space. Morphological aspects of the diaphysis and ancient DNA extracted from it indicate that it is aligned with the Neandertals and is distinct from early modern humans. However, its midshaft cortical bone distribution places it between other Middle Paleolithic Neandertals and the Châtelperronian Neandertal from La Roche-à-Pierrot, supporting a pattern of changing mobility patterns among late Middle Paleolithic Neandertals on the eve of modern human dispersals into Europe.

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