You are here
Home > All > Volcanoes responsible for Neanderthal extinction

Volcanoes responsible for Neanderthal extinction

Volcanic erruptions may have wiped out the Neanderthals 40,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

Stumpy but strong, the Neanderthals disappear from the European fossil record by about 30,000 years ago, replaced about that time by modern-looking humans. In the upcoming October Current Anthropology journal, researchers led by Liubov Golovanova of Russia’s ANO Laboratory of Prehistory in St. Petersburg report that volcanic dust deposits in a cave in the Caucasus point to an ecological catastrophe wiping out our Neanderthal cousins, not warfare or competition for food.

According to the study, ash, pollen and tools left in Mezmaiskaya Cave suggests that “volcanic eruptions had an unusually sudden and devastating effect on the ecology and forced the fast and extreme climate deterioration (‘volcanic winter’) of the Northern Hemisphere.” They point to evidence for a massive eruption around 40,000 years in southern Italy as well as a smaller eruption a bit earlier in the Caucasus.

[Full story]

2 thoughts on “Volcanoes responsible for Neanderthal extinction

  1. I thought the Neanderthal distribution was over a wide area including Central Europe, France, Spain, China and other sides of Neanderthal occupation. Active volcanos may have influenced local geoghrapic areas, but can not believe that it explains the whole picture of their extinction. To me, this makes the title very misleading.

Leave a Reply