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Volcanoes may have wiped out the Neandertals

  • 28-09-2010 11:54pm
    Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean

    To make a long story short, a new theory has been devised which claims that the neandertals may have been wiped out by a series of volcanic eruptions some 40,000 years ago. It is suspected that the eruptions dealth enough damage to cripple the neandertal population to the point of no return. Homo sapiens were able to repopulate as they were a more widespread group, living in Asia and Africa aswell as Europe.

    Full story here.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,015 ✭✭✭ rccaulfield

    Wouldn't that lead to both species being wiped out in Europe and then europe being repopulated by humans? Do we see this in the records?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,759 ✭✭✭✭ dlofnep

    Didn't the homo sapien population take a huge hit around 70,000 years ago? I wonder if that event also had an impact on the Neanderthal population?

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,760 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    Yea they did alright. Well one homo sapiens population that we know of in Africa. It would be my take that they had left Africa by that stage, so even of that African bottleneck had completely closed, we would still be here as a species. There are too many holes in that theory expressed in the link IMHO. If some of the dates of potential sapiens in Asia that are older than this date do prove correct then it opens the thing right up. The DNA evidence while a damn good tool is relied upon too much IMHO(especially when it comes to dating clocks). Australias Mungo man at around 40,000 years old shows some interesting diffs in his DNA that dont show up in modern populations.

    A year ago if you had been overly definite in your opinion that Neanderthals left genetic markers in modern humans you would be looked at funny. Today it turns out 1-4% at least in Europe and Asian populations have Neanderthal markers. Africans by comparison have none. It may turn out to be more. This sole out of Africa, "we replaced them all you know" theory is getting a few bruises of late. Its gonna be far more complex than that.

    I'd also take some issue with the 1% genetic diversity bit, or at least which bit they're measuring. Is it mtDNA? The Y chromosome? The nuclear? Each is gonna give you a different result. Yes it is true that chimps of different groups(not just one as suggested in the link. Single troops are usually high in familial connections) have a greater diversity, but humans do vary across populations. One can track an average of populations and come to a geographic conclusion. In Europe a majority of people if their DNA is studied can be traced within 200 kms of where they currently live. That's Europe, which has been a crossroads going back and forth for millennia. There's a lot going on in that 1%. The recent neanderthal findings surely knock that percentage a little too.

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