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Palaeontology

Did human diseases doom the Neanderthals ?

By T.K. Randall
April 15, 2016 · Comment icon 5 comments



Humans hay have inadvertently wiped out the Neanderthals. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Tim Evanson
Recent studies have suggested that diseases carried by modern humans may have proven catastrophic.
What ultimately brought about the extinction of the Neanderthals, a species that roamed the Earth for over 300,000 years, has been a topic of heated discussion among scientists for decades.

While their disappearance is generally thought to have coincided with the arrival of modern humans, it hasn't been clear exactly what processes ultimately contributed to their eventual demise.

Now however, in a new study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, scientists have revealed new evidence to suggest that infectious diseases may have been responsible.
Their findings indicated that these diseases had appeared much earlier than previously thought and that modern humans were likely to have spread some of them to the Neanderthals.

"For the Neanderthal population of Eurasia, adapted to that geographical infectious disease environment, exposure to new pathogens carried out of Africa may have been catastrophic," said anthropologist Charlotte Houldcroft from Cambridge University.

"However, it is unlikely to have been similar to Columbus bringing disease into America and decimating native populations. It's more likely that small bands of Neanderthals each had their own infection disasters, weakening the group and tipping the balance against survival."

Source: Science World Report | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Darwin strikes again!
Comment icon #2 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
New diseases certainly couldn't have helped prevent the extinction of the neanderthals.
Comment icon #3 Posted by coolguy 7 years ago
Maybe, anytning is possable,
Comment icon #4 Posted by CersiGrey 7 years ago
When Europeans met with Native Americans they brought small pox and killed thousands. This theory about Neanderthals dying off sounds similar.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
Man's encounter with his cousins took place over tens of thousands of years. Seems more likely small Neanderthal bands were swamped and absorbed by larger Sapien communities.


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