Neanderthal Greek Paradise Found

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Anthropologists have discovered a beautiful Greek waterfront paradise once inhabited by generations of Neanderthals up to 100,000 years ago, according to a new study.

This particular population was based at what is known as The Kalamakia Middle Paleolithic Cave site on the Mani peninsula of southern Greece.

Previously, only one other Neanderthal tooth suggested that the now-extinct hominids settled in Greece.

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Katerina Harvati, head of paleoanthropology at the University of Tübingen’s Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironments, studied the remains and identified multiple Neanderthals representing a child, a teen and both male and female adults. It is unclear if all were related.

The Neanderthals chose a scenic place to live, with the Mani area to this day drawing tourists.

"The site is currently very close to the sea," said Harvati, lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Human Evolution. "During glacial times the sea level was lower, so there likely would have been a coastal plain exposed in front of the site. This habitat would be ideal for the kinds of animals that humans hunted."

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Fallow deer and ibex were two such animals eaten by Neanderthals and, later, modern humans. The Neanderthals seemed to have a particular fondness for tortoise meat. The shells -- from shellfish too -- mostly were all recycled into tools, such as implements for scraping.

Dental wear suggests that the Neanderthals enjoyed a varied diet consisting of seafood, meat and plants. Studies on Neanderthals from other locations suggest they were primarily carnivorous, but it appears they just took advantage of whatever foods were available.

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