Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion
William E. Banks
, Francesco d’Errico
, A. Townsend Peterson
, Masa Kageyama
, Adriana Sima
Institut de Pre
´histoire et de Ge
´ologie du Quaternaire, UMR 5199-PACEA, Universite
´ Bordeaux 1, CNRS, Talence, France,
Institute for Human Evolution, University of
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa,
Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, United States of
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement/IPSL, UMR 1572, CEA/CNRS/UVSQ, CE Saclay, L’Orme des Merisiers, Gif-sur-Yvette, France,
´ Bordeaux 1, CNRS, Talence, France
Despite a long history of investigation, considerable debate revolves around whether Neanderthals became
extinct because of climate change or competition with anatomically modern humans (AMH).
We apply a new methodology integrating archaeological and chronological data with
high-resolution paleoclimatic simulations to define eco-cultural niches associated with Neanderthal and AMH adaptive
systems during alternating cold and mild phases of Marine Isotope Stage 3. Our results indicate that Neanderthals and AMH
exploited similar niches, and may have continued to do so in the absence of contact.
The southerly contraction of Neanderthal range in southwestern Europe during Greenland
Interstadial 8 was not due to climate change or a change in adaptation, but rather concurrent AMH geographic expansion
appears to have produced competition that led to Neanderthal extinction.
Banks WE, d’Errico F, Peterson AT, Kageyama M, Sima A, et al. (2008) Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion. PLoS ONE 3(12): e3972.
Henry Harpending, University of Utah, United States of America
May 23, 2008;
November 19, 2008;
December 24, 2008
2008 Banks et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship Program (grant no. 0653000), and the EuroClimate and
OMLL programs of the European Science Foundation. The climate simulations were produced in the framework of the ANR-BLANC IDEGLACE project (ANR-05-
BLAN-0310-01) and the CNRS/ECLIPSE project EOLE.
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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