Neanderthals and early humans co-existed peacefully and possibly even interbred, according to a new research.

Researchers have discovered stone axes and sharp flint arrowheads of both branches of the human race in limestone caves in northern Israel.

Archaeologists working on the site of Nahal Me’arot or the Stream Cave, believe that 80,000 years ago this may have been the only place in the world where Neanderthals and early humans lived side by side, possibly even interbreeding, The Times reported.

While the cave dwellers did not share accommodation, they switched between communities, indicating that small populations of both inhabited the area over time, researchers said.

None of the bones so far found indicate lethal wounds, leading scientists to believe they may have lived in peace.

Recent genetic research indicates that modern Europeans take between 1 per cent and 4 per cent of their genes from Neanderthals, which dominated Europe and Eurasia for 3,00,000 years before dying out about 28,000 years ago, in Gibraltar.

There has long been speculation that the cross-breeding may have been the result of rape. But Daniel Kaufman, one of the archaeologists working here, said that, given its relatively frequent occurrence and its scattering across Europe, a more peaceful and sustained interbreeding was more likely.

“If that interbreeding did take place, it must have been here,” he said.

British archaeologist Dorothy Garrot first explored the caves in 1928.

(This article was published on September 30, 2012)
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