This is an indicator of collagen preservation (20).The results show that only one bone point sample (Vi-3446) had sufficient levels of nitrogen to warrant full sampling for collagen extraction and AMS dating; the remainder failed and therefore were not sampled further (, Table S1).We applied zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (Zoo MS) to find additional hominin remains.We identified one bone that is Neanderthal, based on its mitochondrial DNA, and dated it directly to 46,200 ± 1,500 B. We also attempted to date six early Upper Paleolithic bone points from stratigraphic units G. in Europe witnessed the so-called biocultural transition from the Middle to early Upper Paleolithic, when incoming anatomically modern humans displaced Neanderthal groups across the continent (1, 2).The latest data, both radiometric and genetic, suggest Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted or overlapped for up to several thousand years in Europe until Neanderthal disappearance at around 40,000 cal B. Our understanding of the biocultural processes involved in the transition have been greatly influenced by improved accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating methods and their application to directly dating the remains of late Neanderthals and early modern humans, as well as artifacts recovered from the sites they occupied. (10) showed that, when redated using ultrafiltration methods, the bones that produced ages of ∼33,000 B. were in fact beyond the radiocarbon limit, suggesting the Neanderthal remains were unlikely to be as young as previously thought. For sample Vi-208, after ultrafiltration, the C/N atomic ratio was 3.4, which indicates collagen of acceptable quality.It has become clear that there have been major problems with dating reliability and accuracy across the Paleolithic in general, with studies highlighting issues with underestimation of the ages of different dated samples from previously analyzed sites (6). At Mezmaiskaya, the AMS dates obtained for the Neanderthal excavated above the previously dated individual were substantially older (9). In both cases, revised radiocarbon dates produced with more robust chemical pretreatment methods have illustrated significant underestimates in the previous dates that cannot be reconciled with a hypothesis of late-surviving refugial Neanderthals. However, for Vi-207, the 30-k Da fraction obtained produced a C/N ratio of 4.3, which indicates the presence of a high molecular weight contaminant.Radiocarbon dating of Neanderthal remains recovered from Vindija Cave (Croatia) initially revealed surprisingly recent results: 28,000–29,000 B. This implied the remains could represent a late-surviving, refugial Neanderthal population and suggested they could have been responsible for producing some of the early Upper Paleolithic artefacts more usually produced by anatomically modern humans.
The European record for the transition retains its interest because it is the best-documented sequence for the disappearance of a hominin group available (3). Ascertaining the spatial attributes of Neanderthal and modern human populations in Europe is an area of active research, and a reliable chronology remains essential. (Vi-208: Ox A-X-2089-06), which indicated the previous dates were indeed too young.
These included three previously dated Neanderthal specimens (Vi-207, Vi-208, and Vi-33.19), as well as a fourth Neanderthal bone (Vi-*28) discovered using zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (Zoo MS) screening.
In addition, to test the reality of the co-occurrence of earlier Upper Paleolithic bone and antler point artifacts with the Neanderthal remains, we selected six osseous points for dating (, Fig. To test collagen preservation, we took ∼3–5 mg bone powder, using tungsten carbide drills, and measured the %N content.
The picture was taken after the bone had undergone sampling for Zoo MS and before sampling for a DNA, radiocarbon, and stable isotope analysis.
() High-resolution photographs of the Vi-*28 Neanderthal bone found using Zoo MS.