Washington: When climate took a turn towards the cold around 40,000 years ago, it doomed Neanderthals, according to a recent study.
A University of Colorado Denver researcher found that Neanderthals in Europe showed signs of nutritional stress during periods of extreme cold, suggesting climate change may have contributed to their demise.
Jamie Hodgkins analyzed the remains of prey animals and found that Neanderthals worked especially hard to extract every calorie from the meat and bones during colder time periods.
She said, "Our research uncovers a pattern showing that cold, harsh environments were stressful for Neanderthals. 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."
"Our results illustrate that climate change has real effects," said Hodgkins. "Studying Neanderthal behavior is an opportunity to understand how a rapidly changing climate affected our closest human relatives in the past. If Neanderthal populations were already on the edge of survival at the end of the Ice Age, the increased competition that occurred when modern humans appeared on the scene may have pushed them over the edge."
The results are published in the Journal of Human Evolution....