New Neanderthal skeleton unearthed from ‘flower burial’ site

Graeme Barker

Although scientists admit that their find overjoyed them, they were more excited to find clumps of ancient pollen, which were placed around the skeleton. Solecki claimed this showed Neanderthals buried their dead and conducted funerary rites with flowers.

Solecki's findings prompted re-evaluation of previously held views of Neanderthals as animalistic and unintelligent, and sparked fierce debate over whether Neanderthals had any - or were capable of - cultural sophistication.

This "flower burial" captured the imagination of the public and kicked off a decades-long controversy.

Researchers from Cambridge, Birbeck and Liverpool John Moores Universities in the United Kingdom, in conjunction with the Kurdistan General Directorate of Antiquities, were able to collect new sediment samples and uncovered the crushed skull and torso bones of a new Shanidar Neanderthal specimen.

Chris Hunt, a professor of cultural paleoecology at Liverpool John Moores University, described Shanidar Z as "a truly spectacular find".

The landmark discovery in Iraq of the skeleton of a 70,000-year-old Neanderthal has reignited a debate about whether these ancient humans were sophisticated enough to have burial rituals.

Unfortunately, Solecki died at age 101 a year ago, unable to revisit the famous site due to various complications. It resumed the following year. And the cave where the Neanderthal skeleton was found has its own intriguing story to tell.

"We thought with luck we'd be able to find the locations where they had found Neanderthals in the 1950s, to see if we could date the surrounding sediments", said Prof Barker. Then, they uncovered the bones of a clenched right hand. However, metres of sediment needed carefully digging out before the team could excavate the skeleton.

He said: "The upper remains are staggeringly complete, although the skull was flattened by compression under many tons of cave sediment".

Their early analysis of the remains, published this week in the journal Antiquity, suggests the remains are 70,000 years old. While the sex is yet to be determined, the latest Neanderthal discovery has the teeth of a "middle- to older-aged adult".

A Stunning Neanderthal Skeleton Was Just Unearthed at a Famous Burial Site

Shanidar Cave is a large cave in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan's Bradost Mountains.

One of the skeletons, unusually, was found engulfed in ancient pollen.

Four of the skeletons were found in unique positions which experts think may signify that the Neanderthals returned to the same spot to lay their dead.

How did the Neanderthals deal with their dead?

Now, archaeologists have found another partial skeleton in Shanidar Cave - not necessarily new remains, but possibly the rest of one of the initial 10, of which only small fragments were found originally.

Since 2015, a workforce of scientists led by means of Graeme Barker and Emma Pomeroy from the University of Cambridge within the U.Ok. were wearing out analysis at the website, after being approached by means of the Kurdish Regional Government in 2011 to habits renewed excavations.

Furthermore, proof introduced within the learn about means that the person could have been deliberately buried, offering an extraordinary alternative to shed mild on the loss of life practices of this extinct human species.

Researchers are really just getting to know Shanidar Z CT scans revealed that the petrous bone is intact at the base of the skull, which could contain ancient DNA and tell them more about the Neanderthals that once lived in this region. "While Neanderthals were previously assumed to be less intelligent than modern humans, we are accumulating more and more evidence for complex behaviors, such as symbolism-for example, use of shells and raptor talons as decoration, use of pigments, cave 'art, ' etcetera-as well as more sophisticated hunting techniques than previously assumed".

A prominent rock next to the head of Shanidar Z may have been used as a marker for Neanderthals repeatedly depositing their dead, said Dr Pomeroy.

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