Reconstructing the demography of ancient populations

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Unformatted text preview: econstructing the demography of ancient populations is tricky business, however. For one thing, whole populations are never preserved in the fossil record. Rather paleontologists tend to recover fragments of individuals. For another, early humans did not necessarily mature at the same rate as modern humans. In fact, maturation rates differ even among contemporary human populations. But a handful of sites have yielded high enough numbers of human fossils in the same layers of sediment that scientists can confidently assess the age at death of the remains—which is key to understanding the makeup of a prehistoric group. A rock-shelter located in the town of Krapina in Croatia, about 40 kilometers northwest of the city of Zagreb, is one such site. More than a century ago Croatian paleontologist Dragutin Gorjanovi´-Kramberger excavated and described the fragmenc tary remains of perhaps as many as 70 Neandertal individuals there, most of which came from a layer dated to about 130,000 years ag...
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