Neanderthal fragments found in the Grotte du Renne cave
By examining the proteins, researchers were able to specifically compare the chemical composition of collagen in the artifacts and fossils to the collagen produced by modern people and Neanderthals. Neanderthal collagen contained a different amino acid than modern human collagen. The researchers also sequenced the mitochondrial DNA. Not only did they see that the ancestry was Neanderthal but also they noted that the fragments contained high levels of nitrogen isotopes, associated with breast-feeding. This led the team to conclude that some of the Neanderthals were infants. Through radiocarbon dating, the fragments were able to be chronologically linked with the tools and jewelry found nearby.
This study demonstrates that Neanderthals had the ability to make their own tools and jewelry, but it also allows for more questions. Modern humans may have possibly had a social and genetic influence on Neanderthals. Through mating and socialization with Homo sapiens, the Neanderthals may have obtained enhanced cognitive abilities. I believe this is a great start to researching if enhanced cognitive skills have a genetic basis. By learning about our past and our history, we can learn more about our present selves and our future.