Early humans may have lived in harmony with Neanderthals and possibly even interbred with them, according to new research.
Archaeologists have discovered stone axes and sharp flint arrowheads of both Homo species in the limestone caves of northern Israel.
The latest findings have led researchers working on the site of Nahal Me'arot, or the Stream Cave, to believe that the two sub-species may have co-existed peacefully in the coastal mountain range currently at war with its neighbors, The Times reported.
Researchers found that none of the bones uncovered at the World Heritage site had lethal wounds, suggesting that prehistoric men lived in harmony with each other some 80,000 years ago.
What's more, researchers say that Neanderthals may have been much more sophisticated than they have been credited. Daniel Kaufman, One of the archeologists working at the Nahal Me'aro site, said that Neanderthals may have had their burial rituals, language skills as well as the ability to make tools. He believes that peaceful cross-breeding between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis was more likely than the result of rape attacks.
Past genetic studies revealed that 1 percent to 4 percent of the genetic makeup of modern Europeans comes from Neanderthals, a species or subspecies within the genus Homo that dominated Europe and Eurasia for hundreds of thousands of years before dying out about 28,000 years ago.
There has long been speculation that the cross-breeding was the result of rape between the constantly-warring groups. "If that interbreeding did take place, it must have been here. To call someone a Neanderthal is insulting to the Neanderthal," he said, according to The Times.