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Our life with Neanderthals was no brief affairFar from wiping out Neanderthals overnight, modern humans rubbed along with their shorter and stockier cousins for thousands of years, giving plenty of time for the two groups to share ideas – and have sex.Paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, who was not involved in the research, said the new findings were "striking" and backed up the idea that modern humans and Neanderthals may have learned from each other.He believes interbreeding probably first occurred in Asia soon after modern humans began to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago, so the latest evidence indicates the two populations may have been in some kind of contact for up to 20,000 years – much longer than in Europe alone.The Oxford team dated a number of items from sites of so-called transitional stone tool industries – viewed as either the work of the last of the Neanderthals or early modern humans – and found they were all between 40,000 and 45,000 years old, indicating a period of possible cultural exchange.Interestingly, they found no evidence that Neanderthals and modern humans lived particularly closely together.
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