New finds from southwestern France have dealt another blow to the theory that anatomically modern humans moving into Europe in the Paleolithic introduced advanced technology to the region. It turns out, the established, more primitive Neanderthal population were making their own specialized bone tools.

Neanderthal Tools

Researchers reached that conclusion after analyzing four bone fragments from two separate Neanderthal sites in southwestern France. They confirmed that the artifacts showed clear evidence of being fashioned and utilized for a specific task — in this case, treating animal hides. The age of the fragments — about 50,000 years — predates the earliest evidence of modern humans (Homo sapiens) in the area by at least 5,000 years, the researchers reporttoday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.