neanderthal readings

neanderthal readings - Did climate kill off the...

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Did climate kill off the Neanderthals? By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News February 2009 Climate change, we're told, poses the single gravest threat to the survival of our species. And if the experience of our ancient relatives the Neanderthals is anything to go by, we should take note of the warnings. Recent research has suggested that climate change may have been the killer blow that finished off our closest evolutionary cousins. For about 400,000 years, the Neanderthals dominated Europe, hunting big game such as mammoth and bison. These hardy cavemen and cavewomen survived one Ice Age after another. But eventually, their luck ran out. For reasons which remain unclear, Neanderthal populations went into terminal decline. By about 24,000 years ago, the Neanderthals had vanished By 35,000 years ago, the Neanderthals had vanished from most parts of Europe. But in 2006, scientists dropped a bombshell. They had found evidence that a small population of survivors clung on in Iberia - modern Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar - until much more recently. This evidence came from radiocarbon dates obtained from Neanderthal campfires in Gorham's Cave, a natural shelter cut into the Rock of Gibraltar. Professor Clive Finlayson led the research: "You had Neanderthals - in our opinion - quite late from some of the dates; and by late we're talking in terms of 24,000, some would say 28,000. "Either way, much more recent than the latest estimates, some of which were putting them at 30,000, the last ones; and some of them as far back as 35,000." 'A good place to stay' Professor Jose Carrion, who researches ancient ecosystems at the University of Murcia, Spain, comments: "Southern Iberia, especially the southern coastal shelf was an area of high biodiversity and resources - food and water. The Neanderthals inhabited open spaces - such as grasslands, dry lands, but also mixed oak, pine and juniper forests, savannah, rocky habitats. "There were various different types of animals. So there were many possibilities for survival here. It was a good place to stay, which was not the situation at this time in northern and central Europe." 1
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But a few thousand years later, even this population was gone. What wiped out this last band of survivors? Two years ago, Clive Finlayson's team claimed to have found a key piece in the jigsaw puzzle. Professor Finlayson, who has written a book on the problem called The Humans Who Went Extinct, says: "What we found was a climatic event in the marine core, taken offshore from the Iberian margin. We found confirmation of other people's results that there was a moment when the sea surface temperatures are the lowest for the previous quarter of a million years. Neanderthal climate link debated
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neanderthal readings - Did climate kill off the...

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