Did Climate Change Contribute to Demise of Neanderthals?

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tags: climate change, Neanderthals



New research into nutritional stress patterns in the remains of Neanderthals in Europe may support the theory that climate change contributed to the demise of our closest ancient evolutionary cousins.

Neanderthals died out around 40,000 years in the past, and researchers have been searching for definitive reasons for their demise since their discovery and classification as a species separate from but related to Homo sapiens, or modern humans. Many theories suggest that Neanderthals lost in the struggle for resources, with modern humans out-competing them.

However, a zooarchaeologist from the University of Colorado Denver says he’s found evidence that European Neanderthals may have weathered periods of extreme cold brought about by climate change, based on signs of nutritional stress left behind in their remains. Jamie Hodgkins, CU Denver assistant professor of anthropology, analyzed the remains left behind by animals hunted by Neanderthals, discovering that our extinct relatives worked particularly hard to glean every bit of sustenance from the meat and bones when the weather turned colder.




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