Digging up debate in a French cave | Science News



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Digging up debate in a French cave

11:41am, May 9, 2006

From San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Paleoanthropology Society and Society for American Archaeology meeting

More than 50 years ago, Henri Delporte excavated a French cave known as Grotte des Fées at Châtelperron. He unearthed many large stone tools characteristic of Neandertals as well as a surprise: small, sharpened points seemingly made by the species toward the end of its evolutionary run. Archaeologists have attributed the finds, now known from several western European sites, to a final phase of Neandertal culture called the Châtelperronian.

Delporte's work has now sparked a heated row over interactions between Neandertals and modern humans. Paul Mellars of Cambridge (England) University says that other tools in the cave indicate that modern humans with a distinctive toolmaking style known as Aurignacian inhabited Grotte des Fées between occupations by Neandertals bearing Châtelperronian tools. In Mellars' view, modern humans spread into western Europe

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