Global warming killed Neanderthals in Spain
April 30, 2007
New research fingers climate change, not humans, as the culprit for the extinction of Neanderthals on the Iberian Peninsula. The research contradicts prevailing theory which holds modern humans responsible for their demise.
Writing in Quaternary Science Reviews, an international team of researchers used climate reconstructions based on marine records to determine that Neanderthal populations fluctuated due to climate change well before the first Homo sapiens arrived in the Iberian Peninsula. The faced adverse weather conditions–including cold, arid and highly variable climate–at the time of their disappearance some 24,000 years ago, according to the researchers
Dr. Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum lead the research.
The Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) was a species of the Homo genus that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia as early as 350,000 years ago before disappearing some 33,000 to 24,000 years ago. Neanderthals had large braincases, short but robust and muscular builds, and large noses.
Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that Neanderthals 43,000 years ago eked out a meager existence, possibly supplemented by cannibalism.