France: Neanderthal leather tools discovered

1 September 2013

We've all met the odd caveman within our industry, but a discovery in southwest France has made the link with Neanderthals clearer still. Tools have been excavated from two neighbouring Paleolithic sites, which unlike any others previously found, resemble tools used by modern humans.

The bone tools, located by research teams from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, are created from deer ribs and have polished tips. Called 'lissoirs' or 'smoothers', similar tools are still used by leather workers to create softer and more water-resistant leather.

Neanderthals were replaced by modern humans around 40,000 years ago, and their cultural capabilities are a matter of some contention. The discovery casts new light on an ongoing debate.

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