Recent Research Reveals Neanderthal Migratory Pathways, Iran a Potential Meeting Point
Recent research has revealed the pathways used by Neanderthals as they migrated out of Europe, with researchers identifying Iran as a potential meeting point between these three related species. Elham Ghasidian et al, in their study titled ‘Modelling Neanderthals’ Dispersal Routes from Caucasus Towards East’, used computer-based least-cost-path modelling for the Neanderthal dispersal routes from Caucasus towards the east. Two distinct techno-complexes of Micoquian and Mousterian were documented in the study, potentially outlining two dispersal routes for the Neanderthals out of Europe.
Using data on topography and Palaeoclimate, the researchers identified two most plausible dispersal pathways taken by Neanderthals as they spread from Europe to Asia: a northern route from Greater Caucasus associated with Micoquian techno-complex towards Siberian Altai and a southern route from Lesser Caucasus associated with Mousterian towards Siberian Altai via the Southern Caspian Corridor.
The Southern Caspian Corridor between high mountains of Alborz and the Caspian Sea provided a special biogeographical zone and a refugium, and is thought to have been a potential place of admixture of different hominin species including Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The researchers suggest that during climatic deterioration phases (e.g. MIS 4), a limited connection between Greater and Lesser Caucasus resulted in the separate development and spread of two cultural groups of Micoquian and Mousterian.
The possibility of interbreeding between Homo Sapiens and other hominin species such as Neanderthals and Denisovans is suggested by the presence of archaic genes within the modern human genome. The research further suggests that the northern route is the most likely place of interaction between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.
However, the authors note that while ancient climate data may indicate the possibility of species intermingling in northern Iran, this notion cannot be proven until real hominin remains are discovered in the area. To date, the only evidence of ancient human occupation of the SCC are in the form of stone tools and other cultural items. PLOS ONE has published the study.
0. “Neanderthals, Denisovans, And Modern Humans Might Have Intermingled In Iran” IFLScience, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.iflscience.com/neanderthals-denisovans-and-modern-humans-might-have-intermingled-in-iran-67704
1. “How changes in climate helped early humans spread out” Brisbane Times, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/how-changes-in-climate-helped-early-humans-spread-out-20230301-p5coij.html