Thursday, February 22, 2007

Neanderthals' “Frozen” To Death

A sharp freeze could have dealt the killer blow that finished off our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals, according to a new study.

From “1,000,000 Years Ago” (1953) © Joe Kubert
From BBC News:

The ancient humans are thought to have died out in most parts of Europe by about 35,000 years ago. Now new data from their last known refuge in southern Iberia indicates the final population was probably beaten by a cold spell some 24,000 years ago.

Sediment cores drilled from the sea bed near the Balearic Islands show the average sea-surface temperature plunged to 8C. Modern-day sea surface temperatures in the same region vary from 14C to 20C.

Gorham's Cave on Gibraltar shows evidence of occupation by groups of Neanderthals until 24,000 years ago. But thereafter, researchers have found no signs of their presence.