Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Volcanism And The Demise Of Neanderthals

In addition to the many proposed reasons, something more to think about:

From Geology (early edition)-

Campanian Ignimbrite volcanism, climate, and the final decline of the Neanderthals - Benjamin A. Black, Ryan R. Neely, and Michael Manga

The eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite at ca. 40 ka coincided with the final decline of Neanderthals in Europe. Environmental stress associated with the eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been invoked as a potential driver for this extinction as well as broader upheaval in Paleolithic societies. To test the climatic importance of the Campanian eruption, we used a three-dimensional sectional aerosol model to simulate the global aerosol cloud after release of 50 Tg and 200 Tg SO2. We coupled aerosol properties to a comprehensive earth system model under last glacial conditions. We find that peak cooling and acid deposition lasted one to two years and that the most intense cooling sidestepped hominin population centers in Western Europe. We conclude that the environmental effects of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption alone were insufficient to explain the ultimate demise of Neanderthals in Europe. Nonetheless, significant volcanic cooling during the years immediately following the eruption could have impacted the viability of already precarious populations and influenced many aspects of daily life for Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans.

Widely varying climatic conditions and resource availability may have hit Neanderthals more than "modern" humans. A number of reasons are given including the ability of "modern" humans to set up long distance networks facilitating exchange of technology and ideas.... Off course some would argue that the Neanderthals  never really became extinct. Their genetic legacy lives on in us. There is no doubt that interbreeding between the two human populations means that Neanderthal genes are with us today, but certainly a way of life, a particular morphology, social mores and perhaps a unique language (s) did disappear.

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