A milk tooth belonging to one of Italy's last Neanderthal children has been found near Venice.
The canine tooth belonged to a pre-teen, likely 11 or 12 years old, and dates back 45,000 years.
Neanderthals went extinct around 40,000 years ago after being out-competed for food and shelter by the more intelligent Homo sapiens.
An upper canine milk-tooth (pictured) that belonged to a Neanderthal child, aged 11 or 12, that lived between 48,000 and 45,000 years ago was found in Northern Italy
Neanderthals (pictured, artist's impression) went extinct around 40,000 years ago after millenia of struggling to compete with the superior intelligence of Homo sapiens which had recently arrived in Europe
The tooth would have been in the upper row of teeth on the right hand side of the child's mouth.
It was discovered in a rock shelter at an archaeological site called 'Riparo del Broion' on the Berici Hills in the Veneto region, near Venice.
The tooth is the first ever human remain to be found at the site.
Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA preserved inside the tooth, as well as analysis of the enamel and shape, reveal it is from a Neanderthal and not a Homo sapien.
Matteo Romandini, lead author of the study at the University of Bologna says: 'High-resolution prehistoric field-archaeology allowed us to find the tooth, then we employed virtual approaches to the analyses of its shape, genome, taphonomy and of its radiometric profile.
'Following this process, we could identify this tooth as belonging to a child that was one of the last Neanderthals in Italy.'
Mitochondrial DNA is similar to normal DNA, except it is smaller and stored in the mitochondria, the powerhouses of human cells, not the nucleus.
The milk tooth was discovered in a rock shelter at an archaeological site called 'Riparo del Broion' on the Berici Hills in the Veneto region, near Venice. The tooth is the first ever human remain to be found at the site
A supercomputer may have finally ended the debate over what caused the extinction of Neanderthals.
Mathematicians used the enormous processing power of the IBS supercomputer Aleph to simulate what happened throughout Eurasia around 40,000 years ago.
It revealed that the most likely explanation for Neanderthal extinction is that Homo sapiens, who migrated into Europe around the time of the extinction of Neanderthals, were better hunters and out-competed them for food.
Humans and Neanderthals are known to have overlapped, and even mated, but the superior brain power of Homo sapiens eventually wiped out their distant cousins.
Experts have long quarrelled over whether it was tumultuous climate patterns, competition for food with Homo sapiens or the interbreeding with this new species that ultimately led to the demise of Neanderthals.
It is also inherited only from the mother and therefore paints a picture of maternal heredity.
The owner of this tooth had a