S.E. Bailey. Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig), Department of
Anthropology, New York University.
Neandertals and anatomically modern humans overlapped in Europe between 45- and 30,000 BP. Unfortunately, the human fossil record during this important time period is sparse. What is preserved is fragmentary and consists primarily of jaws and isolated teeth. This has led some to question whether we can determine if Neandertals or anatomically modern humans were responsible for the early Aurignacian. The goals of this study were, first, to investigate whether root lengths can help differentiate these two taxa; and second, to combine these data with tooth crown traits to assess the taxonomic affiliation of isolated teeth from two early Aurignacian sites (Brassempouy and La Ferrassie).
Root lengths were measured from the lingual aspect of permanent teeth of Neandertals (maximum n=15) and Upper Paleolithic modern humans (maximum n=10). The student’s t-test showed that the mean root lengths of I1, I2, C’, I1, I2, C, P3, P4 and M2 were significantly longer in Neandertals than in Upper Paleolithic moderns (p<0.05), with no overlap in the ranges of I1, I1, C’, and P4. At Brassempouy, the root lengths of the two I1s, C’ and M2 fall more than three standard deviations below the Neandertal mean. Likewise, the single I1 from Le Ferrassie possesses a root that is too short to be considered Neandertal. Additionally, the tooth crowns at both Brassempouy and La Ferrassie lack any diagnostically Neandertal traits. Thus, the preponderance of dental evidence suggests that anatomically modern humans, not Neandertals, are associated with these early Aurignacian sites.
And also by the same author…
The dental human remains from the early Aurignacian layers of Brassempouy (Landes) have been recently described by Henry-Gambier et al. (2004). We provide a critical re-assessment of the features that have led these authors to conclude that the taxonomic status of these fossils is uncertain. Although the works of one of us (S.B.) have been partly used and cited by Henry-Gambier et al. (2004), we disagree with the conclusions that have been drawn from them. In our view and based on the available evidence, the early Aurignacian dental remains from Brassempouy are unambiguously modern in their anatomy. They indeed provide further evidence that the makers of the ancient Aurignacian were early anatomically modern Europeans.
The second link contains a more complete article.I’ll refrain from mentioning that if the remains are so similar at times that they can only be categorised as one or the other with difficulty.. surely this would suggest some overlap between the two genetically as well as physically.