Climate Change Did Not Drive Neanderthals of Western Mediterranean to Extinction

Image for representation purpose only. Credits: Rowan Millar / Flickr

Image for representation purpose only. Credits: Rowan Millar / Flickr

No significant or impactful enough climate change had taken place during the period when Neanderthals existed.

Although the Neanderthals or the Homo Neanderthalensis did go extinct, change in the climate was not the reason behind their extinction. Scientists have found it true for at least the Neanderthals of the Western Mediterranean who went extinct some 42,000 years ago.

A team of researchers from the University of Bologna analysed stalagmite samples from some caves on the Murge karst plateau in Apulia, Italy.

This is where the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens had coexisted for nearly 3,000 years, from approximately 45,000 to 42,000 years ago.

These samples can help researchers to recreate the climate during a certain time period as they rise from the floors because of ceiling water drippings.

In a press release published by the university (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/udb-now072020.php), Andrea Columbu, researcher and first author of this study, said how no significant climate change had taken place during this period. At least it was not strong enough to drive out a species to their extinction.

"It doesn't seem possible that significant climate changes happened during that period, at least not impactful enough to cause the extinction of Neanderthals in Apulia and, by the same token, in similar areas of the Mediterranean," said Columbu.

Explaining the importance of the Italian caves, the researcher added that only a few other areas in the world saw both species co-existing in a relatively small space.

This co-existence is what makes the Murge plateau a perfect place to study the climate and the bio-cultural grounds of the transition from Neanderthal to Sapiens.

What drove the Neanderthals to extinction still remains a mystery.

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