Paleoanthropologists have discovered a milk tooth in Iran that belonged to a six-year-old Neanderthal child. Radiocarbon dating showed that he lived about 43-41 thousand years ago. This is the second find of the remains of Neanderthals in Iran. The article was published in PLoS One magazine.
The extinction of Neanderthals is one of the key challenges facing paleoanthropologists. Improved accelerator mass spectrometry techniques allowed scientists in 2014 to obtain 40 reliable dates for key archaeological sites of the Mousterian and Neanderthals that inhabited Europe. It turned out that archaic people disappeared in the region about 41030–39260 years ago. Subsequent work to clarify the late dating of the probable last refugia made it possible to establish that, in particular, at the Kabazi II site in the Crimea, the Neanderthals died out at least 50,000 years ago.
In addition to Europe, numerous Neanderthal sites are known in the Levant (for example, Nahal Amud or Karain Cave), Central Asia (for example, Teshik-Tash or Obi-Rakhmat), and also in Altai (for example, Chagyrskaya or Denisova caves). However, on the territory of Iran and Iraq, such finds are extremely few, with the exception of the famous Shanidar Cave, where a collective burial of Neanderthals was discovered. The only find on the territory of Iran associated with these archaic people was made in 2001, when archaeologists unearthed a Neanderthal tooth in a cave with a large amount of faunal materials.
Saman Heydari-Guran from the Neanderthal Museum, together with scientists from the UK, Germany, Iran, Italy and France, conducted a study of the Bawa Yavan rock shelter located in the Central Zagros. Scientists reported the discovery, at a depth of about 2.5 meters, of a hominid milk tooth next to faunal materials and Mousterian stone tools.
The tooth is the lower left deciduous canine and consists of a well-preserved crown and approximately one-fourth of the root. Paleoanthropologists noted that when studying the find, neither caries nor enamel hypoplasia could be found. The surface of the tooth appeared to be worn out, with exposed dentin. Morphological analysis showed that the tooth belonged to a Neanderthal child about six years old.
Mousterian stone tools
Radiocarbon dating has shown that Neanderthals were present in the Central Zagros about 43-41 thousand years ago. The data obtained from Bava-Yavan show that along the entire mountain arc from Georgia to Iran, caves and rock shelters were inhabited by archaic people, when they were already extinct in most of Europe. Scientists suggest that the final extinction of the Neanderthals was due to the increased competition for resources with Homo sapiens, as well as the small size of the populations.