We know that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens coexisted in Europe, as evidenced by a small amount of DNA from our cousin in our genome, although it is difficult to determine exactly how long our two species have coexisted, new studies show that Neanderthals may have lived near modern people for some 2,800 years before they disappeared.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, Europe's demographic landscape changed as Neanderthals gradually outrun anatomically modern people. The latest data from Bulgaria, Czech Republic and south-eastern France show that our first modern ancestors arrived in Europe between 45,000 and 54,000 years ago. We also know that Neanderthals died about 4,000 years ago.
However, little is known about whether the two types of hominid were the same regions at the same time and for how long; the continent is large and the human population remains relatively isolated.
In an effort to learn more, researchers focused on France and northern Spain, where the last Neanderthals probably lived, and in these regions, as we know, the material culture called Protoorian culture, which includes tools that are largely attributed to modern people, appeared about 4 to 2,000 years ago.
For this work, published in the journal , researchers conducted radiocarbon dating from 28 Shatelperan artifacts and the same amount of Protoorian remains recovered from 17 archaeological monuments, and then applied modelling to assess the earliest and most recent dates when modern people and Neanderthals could be present at each of these sites.
Their analysis suggests that protoorian culture disappeared between 39894 and 39798 years ago.
Researchers also conducted a radio-carbon date of a dozen Neanderthal fossils found in France and Belgium, and determined that this species was probably extinct in the region between 40870 and 40457 years ago, all of which suggest that our two species may have existed in Western Europe between 1,400 and 2,800 years.
Of course, it's just an estimate based on the data we have, and in fact, the authors readily admit it, it's unlikely that we'll ever be able to identify the first or last appearance of a species or cultural tradition in an archaeological and fossilized record, and it's really impossible to tell with certainty how long our two species have lived side by side.