Volcanic eruption not behind Neanderthals’ disappearance

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Washington: While dismissing volcanic eruption as causing the disappearance of the Neanderthals, a new study shows that our ancestors were competent enough to deal with climate change.

The Neanderthals disappeared between 35,000-41,000 years ago and the causes of their extinction are still a mystery.

About 40,000 years ago, the Campanian Ignimbrite super-eruption in present-day Italy dramatically cooled the climate.

The lava and ash that covered this region was not enough to lower temperatures and to be a significant contributor to the disappearance of Neanderthals.

“Neanderthal decline started well before the eruption, so if there were just a few scattered populations that were hanging on at the brink, it’s hard to say what might have pushed them over the edge,” study co-author Benjamin Black, geologist at University of California, Berkeley was quoted as saying by Live Science.

By using existing data on rocks from the eruption and combining those with climate models, Black and his team determined that the climate would have cooled at most about five to 10 degrees Celsius due to the eruption.

While this is indeed a sudden drop in temperature, Neanderthals were used o this kind of climate and it likely would not have been enough to wipe them out, concluded the team.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco recently.

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