Archaeologists in Willendorf, Austria made some surprising discoveries on a recent excavation. They found artifacts that modern humans created 43,500 years ago, making them the oldest known modern human artifacts in Europe — and proving that Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted for longer than scientists previously thought.
The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Dr. Philip Nigst of the University of Cambridge. Dr. Nigst, who oversaw archaeologists from a number of countries on the dig, said in a statement that the excavated tools come from the Aurignacian culture, which is "generally accepted as indicative of modern human presence" in Europe.
"The recent finds indicate a modern human presence and the date of the artifacts represents the oldest well-documented occurrence of modern humans in Europe," Dr. Nigst said in the statement. "The Willendorf finds strongly suggest that modern humans and Neanderthals met and interacted, and may well have exchanged both mates and ideas... The timing of these events cannot be a coincidence."