Archaeologists digging in Bacho Kiro Cave in Bulgaria found bones from people who lived 45,000 years ago. This period is known as the early Upper Paleolithic. It was an exciting time for human evolution as humans took a big jump forward in art and technology. It’s also a time when Neanderthals were still around.

We wanted to know what these people’s DNA could tell us about where their ancestors came from and where their descendants ended up. Surprisingly, even though the bones were found in Europe, their DNA had more in common with people from East Asia and Native Americans. We also found that all the individuals whose remains were found in Bacho Kiro Cave had Neanderthal ancestors only a few generations back. That means that not only did Stone Age humans and Neanderthals know about each other, they sometimes had children together.

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About this article

Summary of research
Researchers analyzed DNA from the oldest Late Stone Age human specimens ever found in Europe and discovered that these people had recent Neanderthal ancestors.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
NGSS standards
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Scientific methods
Type of figure
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
November 2021

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