A team of paleoanthropologists confirms, through a study published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, that the Neanderthals living in Siberia, or at least a part of them, came from various European populations.
At least one of the two important groups of Neanderthals living in southern Siberia had in fact emigrated from Eastern Europe.
The origins of the Siberian Neanderthals, or rather the place from which they emigrated, have never been known. The research team examined some of the tools and bones found in the Chagyrskaya Cave, a cave near the Alkaid Mountains in Russia that hosted Neanderthals in the past.
The morphological analyses of the 3D models of the instruments, which the researchers carried out using special scanners, showed that these instruments made of stone had many characteristics in common with other instruments made by groups of the Micoquien culture, composed of people from Central and Eastern Europe.
Specifically, these instruments resembled those found at sites in Bavaria, including those of the Sesselfelsgrotte cave.
In addition to analysing the stone instruments, researchers also made DNA analyses of the bones found in the same Siberian cave and established the migration route of the Siberian Neanderthals. The latter must have travelled through Europe, first through Croatia and then in the North Caucasus, until they reached the Altai mountains.
DNA analysis also showed that the Neanderthals living in the Chagyrskaya cave differed from the group of Neanderthals whose remains were found in the Denisova cave, another place in Siberia.
This difference confirms that the Neanderthals of Denisova had almost no connections with the cultures of Micoquien and confirms that the different groups of Neanderthals who emigrated to Siberia are at least more than one.
The study was carried out by an international team also composed of scientists from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU).