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article imageDid Climate Change Kill Off the Neanderthals?

By Bob Norman     Feb 24, 2007 in Environment
Did a sharp cold spell mean doom to our ancient ancestors? A new study says it could have been.
Scientists are theorizing that Neanderthal man might have been wiped out by nothing more than a severe cold snap. They say a downturn in the weather might have put demands on water and food that the environment couldn't meet. Although Homo Neanderthalensis was already extinct in most of Europe 35,000 years, ago a small community probably lived another 11,000 years in the warmer climate of southern Iberia.
Neanderthals had survived in local pockets during previous Ice Ages, bouncing back when conditions improved. But the last one appears to have been characterised by several rapid and severe changes in climate which hit a peak 30,000 years ago.
Southern Iberia appears to have been sheltered from the worst of these. But about 24,000 years ago, conditions did deteriorate there.
Scientists say that the Neanderthal population was probably already stressed by limitations in their environment and several short but severe cold spells were enough to wipe them out. They believe the cold spells were fairly short because things like olive trees and oak trees are still with us. Another site in south-east Spain also shows signs of the late survival of Neanderthals and may yield more clues to their final fate.
More about Neanderthal, Freeze, Extinct
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