Hublin, J.-J., Talamo, S., Julien, M., David, F., Connet, N., Bodu, P., Vandermeersch, B., Richards, M.P., 2012. PNAS.
The Chatelperronian is a so-called ‘transitional industry’ between Middle Palaeolithic (MP: definitely associated with Neanderthals) and Upper Palaeolithic (UP: almost definitely associated with anatomically modern humans (AMH)) industries in Central/Southwestern France and Northern Spain. Châtelperronian artefacts have been found in direct association with a Neanderthal fossil at St Césaire.
However, it has been argued that stratigraphic mixing has created associations between Neanderthal skeletal material, Châtelperronian tools and body ornaments by chance.
This paper reports new radiocarbon dates from bone for late Mousterian (MP), Châtelperronian and Protoaurignacian (UP) layers at Grotte du Renne and shows that the dates are inconsistent with strata mixing (admixture), contrary to previous work (Higham et al 2011 PNAS). They also directly date St Césaire (41-95 – 40.66ky calBP). Their dates place the Châtelperronian body ornaments (~41ky calBP) as post-dating AMH dispersals into adjacent areas (e.g. 43–42 kyr cal bp in Kent: Higham et al 2011, Nature) and therefore argue that this ‘innovation’ could be the result of acculturation (cultural diffusion from AMH) rather than independent innovation. However, the two apparent 50ky-old pigmented shell ornaments from Spain pre-date the current earliest dates for AMH in Europe (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/06/0914088107.abstract).