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Neanderthal extinction

Neanderthal extinction began around 40,000 years ago in Europe, after anatomically modern humans had reached the continent.
This date, which is based on research published in Nature in 2014, is much earlier than previous estimates, and it was established
through improved radio carbon dating methods analyzing 40 sites from Spain to Russia. The survey did not include sites in Asia,
where Neanderthals may have survived longer.[1] Evidence for continued Neanderthal presence in the Iberian Peninsula at 37,000
years ago was published in 2017.[2]

Hypotheses on the fate of the Neanderthals include violence from encroaching anatomically modern humans,[3] parasites and
pathogens, competitive replacement,competitive exclusion, extinction by interbreeding with early modern human populations,[4] and
failure or inability to adapt to climate change. It is unlikely that any one of these hypotheses is sufficient on its own; rather, multiple
[5][6]
factors probably contributed to the demise of an already widely-dispersed population.

Contents
Coexistence prior to extinction
Possible cause of extinction
Violence
Parasites and pathogens
Competitive replacement
Species specific disadvantages
Division of labor
Anatomical differences and running ability
Modern humans' advantage in hunting warm climate animals
Interbreeding
Climate change
Natural catastrophe

See also
References
External links

Coexistence prior to extinction


In research published in Nature in 2014, an analysis of radiocarbon dates from forty
Neanderthal sites from Spain to Russia found that the Neanderthals disappeared in Europe
between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago with 95% probability. The study also found with the
same probability that modern humans and Neanderthals overlapped in Europe for between
2,600 and 5,400 years.[1] Modern humans reached Europe between 45,000 and 43,000 years
ago.[7] Improved radiocarbon dating published in 2015 indicates that Neanderthals
disappeared around 40,000 years ago, which overturns older carbon dating which indicated
that Neanderthals may have lived as recently as 24,000 years ago,[8] including in refugia on
the south coast of the Iberian peninsula such as Gorham's Cave.[9] Zilhão et al. (2017) argue
[2] Inter-stratification
for pushing this date forward by some 3,000 years, to 37,000 years ago.
[10] but is disputed.[11]
of Neanderthal and modern human remains has been suggested,
Neanderthal tools

Possible cause of extinction


Violence
Some authors have discussed the possibility that Neanderthal extinction was either
precipitated or hastened by violent conflict with Homo sapiens. Conflict and warfare are
virtually ubiquitous features of hunter-gatherer societies, including conflicts over limited
resources, such as prey and water.[12] It is therefore plausible to suggest that violence,
including primitive warfare, would have transpired between the two human species.[13] The modern human tools
hypothesis that early humans violently replaced Neanderthals was first proposed by French
palaeontologist Marcellin Boule (the first person to publish an analysis of a Neanderthal) in
1912.[14] Several finds in both Homo-sapiens and Neanderthal bones indicate inter-species aggression from injuries (grooves in the
bones themselves) that could only have come from spear or other projectile tips crafted with prevalent tool-making methods
contemporary to the time.[15]

Parasites and pathogens


Another possibility is the spread among the Neanderthal population of pathogens or parasites carried by Homo sapiens.[16]
Neanderthals would have limited immunity to diseases they had not been exposed to, so diseases carried into Europe by Homo
sapiens could have been particularly lethal to them if Homo sapiens were relatively resistant. If it were relatively easy for pathogens
to leap between these two similar species, perhaps because they lived in close proximity, then Homo sapiens would have provided a
pool of individuals capable of infecting Neanderthals and potentially preventing the epidemic from burning itself out as Neanderthal
population fell. On the other hand, the same mechanism could work in reverse, and the resistance of Homo sapiens to Neanderthal
pathogens and parasites would need explanation. An examination of human and Neanderthal genomes and adaptations regarding
pathogens or parasites may shed light on this issue.

Competitive replacement

Species specific disadvantages


Slight competitive advantage on the part of modern humans has accounted for Neanderthals'
decline on a timescale of thousands of years.[17]

Generally small and widely-dispersed fossil sites suggest that Neanderthals lived in less
numerous and socially more isolated groups than contemporary Homo sapiens. Tools such
as Mousterian flint stone flakes and Levallois points are remarkably sophisticated from the
outset, yet they have a slow rate of variability and general technological inertia is noticeable
during the entire fossil period. Artifacts are of utilitarian nature, and symbolic behavioral
traits are undocumented before the arrival of modern humans in Europe around 40,000 to
35,000 years ago.[18][19]

Jared Diamond, supporter of competitive replacement, points out in his book The Third Sapiens and Neanderthal
Chimpanzee that the genocidal replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans is skulls
comparable to patterns of behavior that occur whenever people with advanced technology
clash with less advanced people.[20]

Division of labor
In 2006, two anthropologists of the University of Arizona proposed an efficiency explanation for the demise of the Neanderthals.[21]
In an article titled "What's a Mother to Do? The Division of Labor among Neanderthals and Modern Humans in Eurasia",[22] it was
posited that Neanderthal division of labor between the sexes was less developed than Middle paleolithic Homo sapiens. Both male
and female Neanderthals participated in the single occupation of hunting big game, such as bison, deer
, gazelles and wild horses. This
hypothesis proposes that the Neanderthal's relative lack of labor division resulted in less efficient extraction of resources from the
environment as compared toHomo sapiens.

Anatomical differences and running ability


Researchers such as Karen L. Steudel of the University of Wisconsin have highlighted the relationship of Neanderthal anatomy
gy (30% more).[23]
(shorter and stockier than that of modern humans) and the ability to run and the requirement of ener

Nevertheless, in the recent study, researchers Martin Hora and Vladimir Sladek of Charles University in Prague show that
Neanderthal lower limb configuration, particularly the combination of robust knees, long heels and short lower limbs, increased the
effective mechanical advantage of Neanderthal knee and ankle extensors, thus reducing the force needed and the energy spent for
locomotion significantly. The walking cost of the Neanderthal male is now estimated to be 8–12% higher than that of anatomically
modern males, whereas the walking cost of the Neanderthal female is considered to be virtually equal to that of anatomically modern
females.[24]

Other researchers, like Yoel Rak, from Tel-Aviv University in Israel, have noted that the fossil records show that Neanderthalpelvises
in comparison to modern human pelvises would have made it much harder for Neanderthals to absorb shock and to bounce off from
.[25]
one step to the next, giving modern humans another advantage over Neanderthals in running and walking ability

Modern humans' advantage in hunting warm climate animals


Pat Shipman, from Pennsylvania State Universityin the United States, argues that the domestication of the dog gave modern humans
an advantage when hunting.[26] The oldest remains of domesticated dogs were found in Belgium (31,700 BP) and in Siberia (33,000
BP).[27][28] A survey of early sites of modern humans and Neanderthals with faunal remains across Spain, Portugal and France
provided an overview of what modern humans and Neanderthals ate.[29] Rabbit became more frequent, while large mammals –
mainly eaten by the Neanderthals – became increasingly rare. In 2013, DNA testing on the "Altai dog", a paleolithic dog's remains
from the Razboinichya Cave (Altai Mountains), has linked this 33,000-year-old dog with the present lineage of Canis lupus
familiaris.[30]

Interbreeding
Interbreeding can only account for a certain degree of Neanderthal population decrease.
A homogeneous absorption of an entire species is a rather unrealistic idea. This would
also be counter to strict versions of the Recent African Origin, since it would imply that
at least part of the genome of Europeans would descend from Neanderthals, who left
Africa at least 350,000 years ago.

The most vocal proponent of the hybridization hypothesis is Erik Trinkaus of


Washington University.[31][32] Trinkaus claims various fossils as hybrid individuals, Human-Neandertal mtDNA
including the "child of Lagar Velho", a skeleton found at Lagar Velho in Portugal.[33] In
a 2006 publication co-authored by Trinkaus, the fossils found in 1952 in the cave of
Peștera Muierilor, Romania, are likewise claimed as hybrids.[34]

Genetic studies indicate some form of hybridization between archaic humans and modern humans had taken place after modern
humans emerged from Africa. An estimated 1–4% of the DNA in Europeans and Asians (e.g. French, Chinese and Papua probands)
Y and San probands).[35]
is non-modern, and shared with ancient Neanderthal DNA rather than with sub-Saharan Africans (e.g.oruba

Modern-human findings in Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal allegedly featuring Neanderthal admixtures have been published.[36]
[37]
However, the interpretation of the Portuguese specimen is disputed.
Jordan, in his work Neanderthal, points out that without some interbreeding, certain
features on some "modern" skulls of Eastern European Cro-Magnon heritage are hard to
explain. In another study, researchers have recently found in Peştera Muierilor,
Romania, remains of European humans from ~37,000–42,000 years ago[38] who
possessed mostly diagnostic "modern" anatomical features, but also had distinct
Neanderthal features not present in ancestral modern humans in Africa, including a large
bulge at the back of the skull, a more prominent projection around the elbow joint, and a
narrow socket at the shoulder joint. Analysis of one skeleton's shoulder showed these
[39]
humans, like Neanderthals, did not have the full capability for throwing spears.

The Neanderthal genome project published papers in 2010 and 2014 stating that
Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of modern humans, including most humans
outside sub-Saharan Africa, as well as a few populations in sub-Saharan Africa, through
interbreeding, likely between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.[40][41][42] Recent studies
also show that a few Neanderthals began mating with ancestors of modern humans long Neanderthal DNA extraction
before the large "out of Africa migration" of the present day non-Africans, as early as
100,000 years ago.[43] In 2016, research indicated that there were three distinct episodes
of interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals: the first encounter involved the ancestors of non-African modern
humans, probably soon after leaving Africa; the second, after the ancestral Melanesian group had branched off (and subsequently had
.[44]
a unique episode of interbreeding withDenisovans); and the third, involving the ancestors of East Asians only

While interbreeding is viewed as the most parsimonious interpretation of the genetic discoveries, the authors point out they cannot
conclusively rule out an alternative scenario, in which the source population of non-African modern humans was already more
closely related to Neanderthals than other Africans were, due to ancient genetic divisions within Africa.

Among the genes shown to differ between present-day humans and Neanderthals wereRPTN, SPAG17, CAN15, TTF1 and PCD16.

Neanderthal DNA Comparison (SharedDNA)

Climate change
Neanderthals went through a demographic crisis in Western Europe that seems to coincide with climate change that resulted in a
period of extreme cold in Western Europe. "The fact that Neanderthals in Western Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered
long before they came into contact with modern humans came as a complete surprise to us," said Love Dalén, associate professor at
the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. If so, this would indicate that Neanderthals may have been very sensitive to
climate change.[45]
Natural catastrophe
A number of researchers have argued that the Campanian Ignimbrite Eruption, a volcanic
eruption near Naples, Italy, about 39,280 ± 110 years ago (older estimate ~37,000 years),
erupting about 200 km3 (48 cu mi) of magma (500 km3 (120 cu mi) bulk volume) has
contributed to the extinction of Neanderthal man.[46] The argument has been developed by
Golovanova et al.[47][48] The theory says that although Neanderthals had encountered several
Interglacials during 250,000 years in Europe,[49] inability to adapt their hunting methods
caused their extinction facing H. sapiens competition when Europe changed into a sparsely
vegetated steppe and semi-desert during the last Ice Age.[50] Studies of sediment layers at
Mezmaiskaya Cave suggest a severe reduction of plant pollen.[48] The damage to plant life
would have led to a corresponding decline in plant-eating mammals hunted by the
Neanderthals.[48][51][52]
Snowbound, painting of
Neanderthals in a blizzard,
See also Charles R. Knight, 1911
List of hominina (hominid) fossils
Quaternary extinction event

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External links
Hey Good Lookin': Early Humans Dug Neanderthals– audio report by NPR (6 May 2010)

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