Study suggests why Neanderthals vanished

January 19, 2006

A multi-university study argues the disappearance of Neanderthals was not due to competition from modern humans, as is widely believed.

The disappearance of Neanderthals is frequently attributed to modern humans' greater intelligence, making them more efficient as hunters.

But anthropologists from Harvard University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Haifa and Hebrew University argue the hunting practices of Neanderthals and early modern humans were largely indistinguishable.

That conclusion leads to a different hypothesis, also based on archaeological data, to explain the disappearance of the Neanderthals.

"Each population was equally and independently capable of acquiring and exploiting critical information pertaining to animal availability and behavior," write the anthropologists.

The researchers used archaeological data from a Middle- and Upper-Paleolithic rock shelter in the Georgian Republic dated to 60,000-20,000 years ago to contest some prior models of the perceived behavioral and cognitive differences between Neanderthals and modern humans.

The researchers suggest social developments that led to more routine use of distant resources, and a more extensive division of labor, might better explain the disappearance of Neanderthals than simply their hunting practices.

The research appears in the February issue of Current Anthropology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Wind and insect patterns dispel myth of 'finer feelings' in Neanderthal burial rituals

Related Stories

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

Some honeybee colonies adapt in wake of deadly mites

August 10, 2015

A new genetics study of wild honeybees offers clues to how a population has adapted to a mite that has devastated bee colonies worldwide. The findings may aid beekeepers and bee breeders to prevent future honeybee declines.

Neanderthal lineages excavated from modern human genomes

January 29, 2014

A substantial fraction of the Neanderthal genome persists in modern human populations. A new approach applied to analyzing whole-genome sequencing data from 665 people from Europe and East Asia shows that more than 20 percent ...

Recommended for you

The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

October 13, 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the ...

A particle purely made of nuclear force

October 13, 2015

Scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have calculated that the meson f0(1710) could be a very special particle – the long-sought-after glueball, a particle composed of pure force.

Dead comets and near-earth encounters

October 13, 2015

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids or comets whose orbits sometimes bring them close to the Earth, thereby posing a potentially threat. The asteroid that struck Chelyabinsk last year was an NEO about 40 meters in diameter. ...

Climate scientist hits out at IPCC projections

October 13, 2015

As a new chairman is appointed to the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) a University of Manchester climate expert has said headline projections from the organisation about future warming are 'wildly over optimistic.'

Light-optics research could improve medical imaging

October 13, 2015

A team of researchers, including The University of Queensland's Dr Joel Carpenter, has developed echo-less lights that could improve medical imaging inside the body, leading to less-intrusive surgery.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.