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Ahead Of Their Time: Neandertals And The First Grandparents

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Ahead of Their Time: Neandertals and the First Grandparents

Neandertals and early modern humans showed fits and starts of creativity before archaeology's big bang

By Kate Wong | July 21, 2011 |



Sometime around 35,000 years ago in Europe our ancestors embarked on what might be described as a creativity bender. They began making art, jewelry, musical instruments and complex tools in abundance, as evidenced by the remains of these items at sites across the continent. Archaeologists call this cultural period the Upper Paleolithic and it stands in marked contrast to the Middle Paleolithic that preceded it, during which anatomically modern humans and their archaic contemporaries, the Neandertals, focused their manufacturing efforts on a handful of relatively simple tool types. Experts have long debated exactly what sparked this creative explosion. As Central Michigan University paleoanthropologist Rachel Caspari describes in this article in the August issue, grandparents may have played a key role.



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