“One day in 2011, undergraduate student Naomi Martisius was sorting through tiny bone remnants in the University of California, Davis, paleoanthropology lab when she stumbled across a peculiar piece.
The bone fragment, from a French archaeological site, turned out to be a part of an early specialized bone tool used by a Neandertal before the first modern humans appeared in Europe.
“At the time, I had no idea about the impact of my discovery,” said Martisius, who is now pursuing her doctoral degree in anthropology at UC Davis.
Martisius’ opportunity was the result of a decade of excavation and research by two international teams. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in August.
“Previously these types of bone tools have only been associated with modern humans,” said Teresa E. Steele, associate professor of anthropology at UC Davis, who also served as a co-author on the article and adviser to Martisius at UC Davis and at archaeological excavations in France.
“However, our identification of these pieces in secure Neandertal contexts leaves open the possibility that we have found, for the first time, evidence that Neandertals may have influenced the technology of modern humans,” she said…”