December 04, 2019
Some previous theories have stated that our Neanderthal ancestors were wiped out by our own species because Homo sapiens managed to outsmart or outnumber them. However new findings turn this theory on its head, suggesting in fact modern humans were just bystanders to their demise.
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology have used computer modelling to investigate possible causes of Neanderthal extinction. Work focused on three distinct area; genetic impact of population fitness caused by inbreeding; the role limited population had on mate choice, hunting capacity and child rearing ability, also known as the Allee effect; and natural fluctuations in the rate of births and deaths and the proportion of males and females in the population.
These models were able to show that inbreeding alone would have been insufficient to cause their downfall. However, a combination of the Allee effect, low genetic diversity, natural fluctuations in the population may have been sufficient. This may then have been compounded by fragmentation of their habitat by modern humans, which could have caused the small Neanderthal populations to become even more isolated from one another, further impacting their ability to survive. Without genetic diversity the population was unable to adapt to these changes, ultimately resulting in extinction of their species.
Source: The Guardian
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