cave on the Portuguese coast was used as a shelter by Neanderthal populations over the course of twenty millennia between 86,000 and 106,000 years ago.
Original Published Date: 
Monday, March 30, 2020

Full article issued by The University of Adelaide.

ARC-supported researchers at The University of Adelaide are questioning the behavioural gap once thought to separate Neanderthals from contemporaneous Homo sapiens groups after uncovering new evidence about Neanderthal subsistence strategies. 

The study, which follows excavations and dating research undertaken at the Portuguese archaeological cave site of Figueira Brava, on the Atlantic coast near Lisbon, reveals that human familiarity with the sea and its resources is much older and more widespread than previously thought.

The Neanderthal occupants left abundant archaeological remains, including indicators of intensive fire use, quartz and flint tools, and food remains.

Most significantly, the site’s archaeology reveals that fishing and shell fishing were important components of the Neanderthal subsistence economy, and shows that if habitual consumption of seafood played an important role in the development of cognitive abilities, then this happened on the scale of humanity as a whole.

The researchers include ARC Future Fellowship recipient Associate Professor Lee Arnold, and Discovery Early Career Researcher Awardee (DECRA) Dr Martina Demuro from the University of Adelaide, who focused on dating sediments contained within the site using a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence dating.

Photo credit: 

The Figueira Brava cave on the Portuguese coast was used as a shelter by Neanderthal populations over the course of twenty millennia between 86,000 and 106,000 years. Credit: Pedro Souto.