Supercomputer simulation revealed a possible reason for the extinction of Neanderthals

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the Center for Climate Physics at the University of Basic Sciences in South Korea put forward their hypothesis of the extinction of Neanderthals.

According to researchers, the disappearance of this branch of the human race was not caused either by abrupt climate changes or by crossing with Homo sapiens, but by competition with the ancestors of modern people. An article about this was published in the publication Quaternary Science Review.

Neanderthals inhabited Eurasia for 300 millennia. In the interval between 43 and 38 thousand years ago, they disappeared from the face of the Earth, leaving behind only a few traces in the genomes of modern people. Determining which particular factor has become decisive in the extinction of Neanderthals over the years remains a big problem for anthropologists.

Researchers from the University of Basic Sciences have created a mathematical model that describes the migration of Neanderthals, their possible response to a changing climate, and their interactions and crosses with Homo sapiens.

The model loaded into the IBS Aleph supercomputer takes into account the movements of glacial masses, changes in temperature, vegetation and rainfall; at the same time, both populations (Neanderthals and Homo sapiens) compete for the same food resources.

Comparing the results with existing paleoanthropological, genetic and archaeological data, scientists have shown that such a fairly quick extinction could only happen if Homo sapiens “had significant advantages over Neanderthals in terms of using existing food resources.”

The model does not allow to precisely determine these advantages, but most likely, the superiority of a rational person was more resistant to pathogens, more advanced hunting methods, or high fecundity.

“Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for 300 thousand years and adapted to abrupt climatic changes that were even more abrupt than those that occurred during the disappearance of Neanderthals. It is no coincidence that they became extinct just at the time when Homo sapiens began to spread throughout Europe, summarizes the lead author of the study, Axel Timmermann. “Modeling <…> clearly shows that this event was the first major extinction caused by our own species.”


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