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The site where the find was made is key to understanding the gradual extinction of Neanderthals in Europe, the researchers concluded.
A group of Italian researchers from the Universities of Bologna and Ferrara have found a milk tooth in the Veneto region, which bears witness to one of the last Neanderthals in Italy. This small canine tooth belonged to a boy between 11 and 12 years old who lived in that area about 48,000 years ago.
Matteo Romandini, lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, explained that the research, carried out by his team, "arises from the synergy between different disciplines and specializations."
“High resolution prehistoric field archeology allowed us to find the tooth; then we employ virtual approaches for the analysis of its shape, genome, taphonomy and its radiometric profile. Following this process, we were able to identify this tooth as belonging to a child who was one of the last Neanderthals in Italy, ”the researcher explained.
Italian scientists analyzed the tooth using highly innovative virtual methods.
«The techniques we used to analyze the tooth led to the following discovery: it is an upper canine milk tooth that belonged to a Neanderthal boy, 11 or 12 years old, wholived between 48,000 and 45,000 years ago«Said Gregorio Oxilia and Eugenio Bortolini, co-authors of the study.
"According to this dating, this small milk tooth is the most recent find from the Neanderthal period in northern Italy and one of the last in the entire peninsula."
Genetic analysis revealed that the owner of the tooth found in Veneto was a relative, on his mother's side, to Neanderthals who had lived in Belgium. In this way, the site in Veneto is a key area forunderstand the gradual extinction of Neanderthals in Europe, according to the team.
Stefano Benazzi, professor at the University of Bologna and coordinator of the research, has described the finding of this small tooth as "extremely important". "This is even more relevant if we take into account that, when this child who lived in Veneto lost his tooth, the Homo Sapiens communities were already present 1,000 kilometers away in Bulgaria," said the expert.