Researchers believe that climate change brought end to Neanderthals. Because the climate of 40,000 years ago Europe was extremely cold, researchers believe that it may have played a major role in the extinction of that species. Neanderthals have last walked the Earth about 400 centuries before our time.
Just as global warming is threatening our existence now, the cooling temperatures of thousands of years ago have been life threatening to early humans. The cold environment was stressful to the Neanderthals, researchers say.
A recently published study brings light on the matter. Jamie Hodgkins, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver, studied the bones of animals in caves in southwest France that were once inhabited by Neanderthals.
With the cooling of the climate, the species had to put more effort into extracting nutrients from the bones. The remains of pray animals are evidence to that. The Neanderthals tried to break open even the small bones to get to the marrow they so desperately needed. This illustrated that climate change does have real effects, and that is highly possible that climate change brought end to Neanderthals.
Between 12,000 and 10,000 years before the modern age, when the last Ice Age was ending, modern humans arrived in lands formerly occupied by the Neanderthals. This, together with the climate change, have driven the Neanderthals into extinction. Having to compete with Homo sapiens was too much.
The climate change was probably caused by a massive volcanic eruption. This caused temperatures to fall by 2 degrees. As a result, snow spread to the areas occupied by the Neanderthals, that were previously snow-free.
According to the study, as the levels of temperatures dropped, both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens had to move in search of food. Because of this, they encountered each other more frequently. It is believed that this led to an inter-species breeding that continued for 5,000 years. This eventually resulted in the extinction of Neanderthals as a species.
Although believed to be slow-witted, according to new researches Neanderthals have been found to have possessed impressive cognitive abilities. Most humans today still have some Neanderthal DNA. Researchers say that the species had a significant influence on our biology. But it is not usually considered to be a direct ancestor of modern humans.
IMAGE SOURCE: Flickr