"Each population was equally and independently capable of acquiring and exploiting critical information pertaining to animal availability and behavior," write the anthropologists, from the University of Connecticut, University of Haifa, Hebrew University, and Harvard University.
The researchers use new archaeological data from a Middle- and Upper-Paleolithic rock shelter in the Georgian Republic dated to 60,000-20,000 years ago to contest some prior models of the perceived behavioral and cognitive differences between Neanderthals and modern humans. Instead, the researchers suggest that developments in the social realm of modern human life, allowing routine use of distant resources and more extensive division of labor, may be better indicators of why Neanderthals disappeared than hunting practices.
"The establishment of larger social networks allowed the replacement of Neanderthals in the Caucasus," write the authors. "Our study also indicates that this process of replacement by modern humans spread beyond the traditional biogeographical barrier [of] Neanderthal mobility represented by the Caucasus Mountains."
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Adler, Daniel S., Guy Bar-Oz, Anna Belfer-Cohen, and Ofer Bar-Yosef. "Ahead of the Game: Middle and Upper Paleolithic Hunting Behaviors in the Southern Caucasus." Current Anthropology 47:1.