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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Oct 1;99(20):13342-7. Epub 2002 Sep 13.

The Neandertal type site revisited: interdisciplinary investigations of skeletal remains from the Neander Valley, Germany.

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Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, Institute for Pre- and Protohistory, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, D-72070 Tubingen, Germany.


The 1856 discovery of the Neandertal type specimen (Neandertal 1) in western Germany marked the beginning of human paleontology and initiated the longest-standing debate in the discipline: the role of Neandertals in human evolutionary history. We report excavations of cave sediments that were removed from the Feldhofer caves in 1856. These deposits have yielded over 60 human skeletal fragments, along with a large series of Paleolithic artifacts and faunal material. Our analysis of this material represents the first interdisciplinary analysis of Neandertal remains incorporating genetic, direct dating, and morphological dimensions simultaneously. Three of these skeletal fragments fit directly on Neandertal 1, whereas several others have distinctively Neandertal features. At least three individuals are represented in the skeletal sample. Radiocarbon dates for Neandertal 1, from which a mtDNA sequence was determined in 1997, and a second individual indicate an age of approximately 40,000 yr for both. mtDNA analysis on the same second individual yields a sequence that clusters with other published Neandertal sequences.

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