Did human diseases doom the Neanderthals ?
By T.K. Randall
April 15, 2016 · 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
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