Saturday, January 05, 2008

Follow up on Neanderthals and their extinction due to the cold

Sometimes we wonder whether the archaeologists around the world are too busy to read what's going on in their field. In this morning's Los Angeles Times (Sat., Jan 5, 2008) there's a piece with the headline: Did a chill kill Neanderthals? Clues point to climate change. An anthropologist says a dramatic cold spell cut their food supply.

Well, only a couple of days ago, I entered on the blog, a similar story but, if you look down and see, it was about that same cold spell but reasoned because Neanderthals did not come up with a needle and warm clothes during this cold spell, they perished. That was from an Australian researcher.

This morning's story is from a Canadian. Evidence from studies of deep-sea sediments indicate that temperatures in Europe dropped by nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit during the period when Neanderthals were flourishing. Eugene Morin of Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, studied the effects of this temperature decline by examining bones and other artifacts from a Neanderthal site at Saint-Cesaire in southwestern France. As temperatures declined, the proportion of reindeer in their diet increased to 87% from 35%. But reliance on reindeer is risky because their populations fluctuate widely. A decline in their numbers would lead to famine and population decine, according to Morin.

Can we get the two researchers together? Possibly the combination of a drop in temperature, a drop in food supply and lack of implements to make warmer clothes are persuasive reasons for the demise of the Neanderthals.

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