Representation of early humans in caves. Scientists believe they found the answer to the mystery of the sudden extinction of Neanderthals 40,000 years ago. The Stalagmite strata revealed that Europe had a cold and dry climate that could have wiped out the Neanderthal populations. ( Alex Saltarin )
The effects of climate change have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals, the close relatives of modern humans, tens of thousands of years ago.
According to a new study, the Cold Times in History, the disappearance of Neanderthals in different parts of Europe coincided.
Climate change has brought Neanderthals to extinction
The extinction of Neanderthals 40,000 years ago remains a big mystery. Some experts suspect that they are not proliferating fast enough to keep up with the number of modern humans who come from Africa. Some people think that modern humans slaughtered Neanderthals when they started to move to Europe. Other possible causes include a plague that spreads and kills entire populations, or a volcanic eruption that has completely destroyed life in Europe.
However, scientists have proposed a new hypothesis: climate change.
According to the study published by by the National Academy of Sciences about 44,000 years ago, the temperature in Europe began to decline steadily, resulting in cold and dry conditions across the continent. The scientists were able to confirm changes in the climate by looking at stalagmites, which form a thin layer every year and change their chemical composition on the basis of temperature.
They compared the paleoclimate data with Neanderthal archaeological records and found almost artifacts disappeared around the time Europe was experiencing extremely cold temperatures tens of thousands of years ago.
This implies that the climate played an important role in the disappearance of Neanderthals. As soon as the temperature dropped, the population began to die, while modern people thrive.
"The Neanderthals were the human species closest to ours and living in Eurasia for about 350,000 years," said study co-author Vasile Ersek. "But about 40,000 years ago ̵
The reason why modern humans could survive the cold was that they had a more varied diet. They began to take fish and plants into their meals, but the Neanderthals only ate the meat from the animals they had hunted. Of course, animals are scarce even in cold weather.
Other Unknown Factors Have Eradicated Neanderthals
However, Israel Hershkovitz, a physical anthropologist from Tel Aviv University, believes that something else has killed Neanderthals. He explained that the cousins of modern humans have survived many cold snapshots during their existence and it makes no sense that the temperature drop 40,000 years ago destroyed the population.
Hershkovitz also asked whether the stalagmites in the Romanian caves accurately reflect the climate throughout Europe.
The researchers argued that even modern humans are affected by climate change. While the Neanderthals died out because of the cold, the cultures of modern humans disappeared. However, as the world warmed again, new cultures emerged.
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