What are two ways of dating fossils
Indeed, at 40,000 to 45,000 years old, Descubierta Cave may contain “possibly the strongest evidence yet for symbolic behavior in Neanderthals,” Arsuaga concludes—although, he says, alternative explanations are welcome.
In humans, this test fails to identify males a small fraction of the time because the Y chromosome sometimes has large deletions that include the Y amelogenin () gene.
Is this better evidence for symbolic culture than the long record of ornaments made and worn by Neandertals?
How we answer that question depends on the fine details of defining “symbolic culture”.
For the first time, it will allow osteologists to examine sex-specific cultural treatment and differentiate between the health of boys and girls, as well as sex-specific growth trajectories and past developmental milestones, such as age of puberty and subsequent repercussions for fertility.
Sites with poor preservation are common in archaeological contexts, and at such sites teeth generally survive better than bone, and thus sex can be established for adults as well as juvenile skeletons in the absence of key skeletal identifiers.
In a presentation at the conference, Arsuaga laid out his research team’s reasoning: “This association could have been produced by chance, but we consider this improbable, given the preponderance of horns; also, the presence of fire points to an anthropogenic origin.” He continued, “Could it have been subsistence?