40,000-year-old Neanderthal cave chamber discovered in Gibraltar

by Lorraine Williamson
Neanderthal cave

MADRID – A 40,000-year-old Neanderthal cave chamber has been discovered in Gibraltar by Professor Clive Finlayson and a team of experts. The large rock on which the British Territory is located also houses St. Michaels Cave and the Great Siege Tunnels. 

Now a new historical, or rather prehistoric treasure has been discovered. Finlayson is an evolutionary biologist and director of the Gibraltar National Museum. They discovered the home of Neanderthals in a cave on the Rock of Gibraltar. This was almost completely closed by a stone chip. Entering the room, they discovered stone tools and the bones of slaughtered animals, including red deer, ibex, seals and dolphins. 

Archaeologists from the Gibraltar National Museum have been searching for possible caves blocked by sediment and rocks in Vanguard Cave since 2012. This cave is only part of the Gorham’s Cave Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The thirty-foot chamber, located at the back of the cave, was excavated by Finlayson’s team. Moreover, the find is a milestone in Neanderthal research. 

Also read: Neanderthal rock paintings found in Málaga cave

Proof of habitation 

There were also remains of lynx, hyenas and griffon vultures, as well as scratches on the wall, most likely by a small bear, whose remains were also found on the site. Finlayson told CNN that perhaps the most impressive discovery of all was a large whelk shell. This most likely indicates habitation by Neanderthals. 

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The researcher: “The whelk is at the back of that cave, about 20 metres from the beach. Someone brought that whelk there more than 40,000 years ago. That already gave me a hint that humans have been there, which is so amazing. Those people can only be Neanderthals because of their age.” 

Finlayson also said he discovered a baby tooth from a Neanderthal about four years old. The researcher added that the child may have been dragged into the cave by a hyena. 

Also read: Southern Spain – the last known refuge of Neanderthals?


The cave, with its well-preserved bones and animal remains, is invaluable and offers unprecedented opportunities for research and learning about the lives of these long-ago human ancestors. Finlayson is wildly enthusiastic about it. 

This discovery marks only the beginning of a thorough excavation of the cave complex. In the coming years, which could extend into decades of research, Finlayson hopes to discover even more about the Neanderthals who lived there through DNA research. 

Also read: The remains of the first European found in Spain

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