New Research of Jersey Cave Reveals Near Continuous Neanderthal Use

September 7, 2011 / United Kingdom, Europe
La Cotte de St Brelade

Photo by Man vyi via wikipedia

New investigations at a collapsed cave on the island of Jersey off France’s north coast reveals an almost continuous use by Neanderthals for over a quarter of a million years.

The site at La Cotte de St Brelade contains intact ice age sediments that show a detailed timeline of Neanderthal occupation.

The abandoning of the site only during the coldest, glacial phases, when much of Britain was frozen suggests a considerable success in adapting to a changing climate and landscape.

The site is believed to be the most exceptional long-term record of Neanderthal behaviour in North West Europe. It is very exciting to see generation upon generation of Neanderthals returning to the same location under many environmental conditions.

Neanderthals survived in Europe through a number of ice ages and died out only about 30,000 years ago after Homo sapiens appeared.

During the time of occupation by Neanderthals, Jersey would have been linked to mainland Europe and La Cotte would have been a sheltered cave.

Now a ravine, La Cotte contains a prolific collection of early Neanderthal technology, including over 250,000 stone tools, include stones with sharpened edges that could be used to cut or chop. The massive number of these carefully manufactured tools show just how technologically skilled early Neanderthals were.

Already the focus of archaeological research for over 100 years, scientists still believe more discoveries are yet to be made.

The next step is to start searching the bay around the island in hopes of finding new sites preserved on the sea bed, as in the case of Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula.

Neanderthal survival story revealed in Jersey caves [BBC]

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