Sunday 15 May 2016

Did climate change kill off the Neanderthals?

MAY 12, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

In a new study that could provide humans with a glimpse of their future, a researcher from the University of Colorado-Denver has unearthed evidence that climate change may have played a key role in the demise of European Neanderthals some 40,000 years ago.

Writing in a recent edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, zooarchaeologist and assistant anthropology professor Jamie Hodgkins and her colleagues analyzed the remains of prey animals and found that Neanderthals were forced to go to great lengths to obtain enough sustenance from the meat and bones of these creatures during prolonged periods of extreme cold.

“Our research uncovers a pattern showing that cold, harsh environments were stressful for Neanderthals,” Hodgkins explained Wednesday in a statement. “As the climate got colder, Neanderthals had to put more into extracting nutrients from bones. This is especially apparent in evidence that reveals Neanderthals attempted to break open even low marrow yield bones, like the small bones of the feet.”

Limited food availability may have called for desperate measures
By examining bones found in caves once inhabited by Neanderthals in southwestern France, the researchers found that the hominins were more likely to pick the bones clean during these glacial periods. Specifically, they found an increase in the frequency of percussion marks, signaling the need to consume all of the marrow due to limited food availability.

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