Remains of nine Neanderthals discovered near Rome

Archeologists have discovered the remains of nine Neanderthals at a prehistoric site near Rome, Italy's culture ministry said on Saturday.

Eight of the remains are dated to between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago, the ministry said in a statement.

But the oldest is from much earlier - between 90,000 and 100,000 years ago.

Neanderthals, the closest ancient relatives of humans, died out about 40,000 years ago.

It is unclear what killed them off, though theories include an inability to adapt to climate change and increased competition from modern humans.

The find occurred in Grotta Guattari, prehistoric caves that were discovered more than 80 years ago in a town around 50 miles south of the Italian capital.

Taking into account previous discoveries, there are 11 individuals at the site.

Animal remains have also been found, including aurochs - a large, extinct bovine.