Unexpectedly recent dates for human remains from Vogelherd


The human skeletal remains from the Vogelherd cave in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany are at present seen as the best evidence that modern humans produced the artefacts of the early Aurignacian1. Radiocarbon measurements from all the key fossils from Vogelherd show that these human remains actually date to the late Neolithic, between 3,900 and 5,000 radiocarbon years before present (bp). Although many questions remain unresolved, these results weaken the arguments for the Danube Corridor hypothesis2—that there was an early migration of modern humans into the Upper Danube drainage—and strengthen the view that Neanderthals may have contributed significantly to the development of Upper Palaeolithic cultural traits independent of the arrival of modern humans3,4.

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Figure 1: Map showing the location of Vogelherd cave.
Figure 2: Stratigraphic location of the cranium and mandible (Stetten 1).


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We are grateful to M. Bolus, C. Pusch, H. Floss, M. Haidle, M. Malina, L. Niven and E. Trinkaus for their assistance and discussions, and we thank the Leibniz team for cleaning and dating the bones. This work was funded by the Landesdenkmalamt Baden-Württemberg, the Alb-Donau-Kreis, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, and the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.

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Correspondence to Nicholas J. Conard.

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Conard, N., Grootes, P. & Smith, F. Unexpectedly recent dates for human remains from Vogelherd. Nature 430, 198–201 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02690

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