Evolution & Extinction

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Basics

First True Neanderthals: 300,000 - 250,000 years ago

Only in Europe & parts of Asia

Fairly small.

Their extinction co-incided with the arrivals of Homo Sapiens during Out of Africa 2.

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Anatomical Disadvantage

Homo Sapiens used resources better than Neanderthals because Sapiens often had division in labour.

Sapiens could run faster, throw further and had stronger pelvises due to Neanderthals lacking certain joints and having different sized limbs

Neanderthals requied 30% more energy than Sapiens for walking and running - this meant Neanderthals got tired quicker and ran slower.

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Inter-Breeding

Also known as the Hybridization Hypothesis.

It is believed that Neanderthals and Sapiens met, interbred and eventually after sometime the more dominant Sapien DNA essentially washed out the Neanderthal DNA.

This is supported by the fact of people with no African ancestors can have up to 4% Neandethal DNA. 

Svante Paabo at the Max Planck institute supports this theory.

The recent discovery of a Denisovan bone supports this theory.

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Climate Change

Neanderthals failed to adapt their hunting techniques when Europe changed into a sparsely vegetated steppe & Semi-Desert during the last ice age.

Their normal food sources would have disappeared, if they were unable to adapt to their new habitat, they would starve.

Major volcanic eruptions in approximately 40,000BP led to a reduction in pollen and food supply because a decline in plants means a decline in plant eating mammals.

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