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    marc verhaegen

    Thanks for this study. Of course, neandertals probably tried to extract more bone marrow when climates were colder, but the other conclusions are premature IMO. Neandertal fossils are invariably found in river valleys (with common & giant beavers, reedbeds, oxbow lakes etc.) or at seacoasts (from Gibraltar to Petralona), some show traces of cattails on their tools & of waterlily roots in their dental calculus, and in Gibraltar they apparently collected shellfish & butchered marine mamals. All this suggest neandertals seasonally followed the river to the sea (following anadromous spp such as salmon?), and this is confirmed when we compare sapiens & neandertal bones: most if not all anatomical differences suggest they spent more time in the water than we do, collecting shallow aquatic & waterside foods (incl. carcasses of herbivores or stranded whales): they had much larger lungs & broader bodies (as in shallow-diving mammals), larger brains (cf brain-specific nutrients in aquatic foods, esp. DHA), low long flat skulls (platycephaly) & dorso-ventrally flattened femora (platymeria, also seen in shallow diving spp), heavier skeletons (pachy-osteo-sclerosis, typical of littoral animals), big & projecting noses surrounded by large para-nasal air-sinuses (as in e.g. suids & tapirids), extensive ear exostoses (as in human surfers & divers in colder waters), their remains are found on Crete & Cyprus (to be reached overseas) etc. Conclusion: neandertals were more less water-dependent than sapiens, which no doubt contributed to their extinction (apart from climatic changes, more distance weapons & composite tools, perhaps nets, boats, or even dogs), e.g. google “econiche Homo” or see my 2013 paper in Hum.Evol.28: 237-266.

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    I will go as far as agreeing that the question of climate stability, versus climate change, is worth some consideration in relation to the extinction of neanderthals 40,000 years ago. The timeframe of the Weichselian High Glacial period covers 57,000 – c. 15,000 BC/59,000-17,000 ya. Wikipedia’s article on the “Timeline of glaciation,” does not indicate anything remarkable about 40,000 ya. The relevance of the 40,000 ya date–or lack thereof–could be learned elsewhere via glacial core studies, sediment core studies, and marine isotope perids, however, this article neglects to explain any relevant climate developments associated with the 40,000 ya date. As of the 40,000 BP timeframe cited in the “Archaeology” article, neanderthals in Eurasia had already weathered the Elsterian and Saalian glacial periods. The ongoing Wurm glacial period had begun c. 19,000 years earlier, and Eurasian neanderthals had already weathered some of the coldest portions of Wurm. While I certainly hope Prof. Hodgkins’ provided a more thorough review of relevant factors in her paper, this article negelectfully fails to mention the arrival of modern humans in the same Eurasian habitats as the neanderthals 40,000 ya; that is, humans who were competing for the same food sources as the neanderthals. Beyond these matters, as with any new theory, I believe it best to exercise some prudential skepticism. We have every reason to belive that aspiring academics, sites like “Archaeology,” and others which have publicized this hypothesis are aware of the effectiveness of alarmist phrases like “climate change” for the purposes of self-promotion and clickbait.

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About the author

David DeMar

David DeMar

David has a Master of Arts in English Literature from the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he specialized in the Anglo-Saxon period prior to the Norman invasion of 1066. A professional freelance writer and fiction author, he currently lives in the Adirondack State Park with his wife and daughter. David's favorite historical period is 10th century England.

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