Cave Chamber Closed For 40,000 Years Found In Neanderthals’ Last Hangout

Archaeologists have uncovered a new chamber in a cave system on the rugged cliffs of Gibraltar that was once home to some of Europe’s last remaining Neanderthals. The team aims to learn more about our strange brother species’ culture and habits by studying the marks and bones uncovered in the newly discovered chamber. The new chamber was discovered in Gibraltar’s, Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Site, a sea-level cave on the southern tip of Spain. The cave, which is thought to be one of the last known Neanderthal hideouts in Europe, has been extensively studied since it was initially discovered in 1997. 

Archaeologists from the Gibraltar National Museum, on the other hand, uncovered a new 13-meter (42-foot) deep chamber in the cave’s back end last month, which had been sealed by sediment for at least 40,000 years.

An initial examination of the room revealed the existence of scratch marks on the walls, most likely caused by an unnamed predator, in addition to the bones of a lynx, hyena, and griffon vulture. The shell of a big whelk, an edible form of sea snail, that must have been hauled up to the chamber due to its distance from the seas, is the most persuasive proof that this area of the cave was used by Neandtherals.

Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were a human species that arose around 400,000 years ago in Eurasia, long before we (Homo sapiens), and perished around 40,000 years ago. However, because of widespread interbreeding, Neanderthal genes can now detect in every modern human population. In African populations, the percentage of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans is only 0.3 percent, whereas it ranges from 1 to 3 percent in persons of European or Asian heritage.

Neanderthals were once thought to be H. Sapiens’ heavy-browed caveman relatives, without the cognitive skills to construct complex civilisation. In recent decades, however, a handful of findings have revealed that our extinct ancestors may have been on a cognitive par with us. Neanderthals are increasingly being depicted as complex beings who made art, buried their dead, adorned their bodies with jewelry, cared for the crippled, and had already found penicillin, according to a growing body of evidence.

Archaeologists may be able to shed light on how this unusual species lived if they continue to work in this cave. “These are amazing discoveries that mark the beginning of a new chapter in our rich history.” Knowing Vanguard cave well, I was always curious about what was beneath the sands. Dr. John Cortes, Gibraltar’s Minister for the Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change, and Education, said in a statement, “we are beginning to receive a first peek.”