What Really Killed Off Neanderthals (Hint: Not Us)
DNA evidence shows Ice Age probably killed most of them
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2012 5:35 PM CST
Neanderthal models in the Neandertal-Museum, Dusseldorf, Germany.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – So we didn't kill off the Neanderthals after all. That's the conclusion of researchers who analyzed Neanderthal-bone DNA and deduced that most of them died off in Western Europe during the Ice Age, long before encountering modern humans. A small Neanderthal group lived on for about 10,000 more years after the near-extinction of their race around 50,000 years ago, the BBC reports.

"The fact that Neanderthals in Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered, and that all this took place long before they came into contact with modern humans, came as a complete surprise," says the study's lead author. Their proof: Neanderthal DNA variation dropped off around the Ice Age, implying that survivors existed in a smaller group. Modern humans from the east were better able to handle the cold, the Daily Mail notes—but may not have survived if Neanderthals had also coped with the Ice Age.

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Showing 3 of 39 comments
Feb 28, 2012 6:19 AM CST
I clicked because I thought it was a story about Bill Maher, based on the photo.
Feb 28, 2012 2:19 AM CST
and then they will reverse this and go back to the previous reason. I've watched several documentaries about how modern man was a major factor in Neanderthal's extinction..and now they are saying it was wrong. Why should anyone believe this is right?
Feb 27, 2012 10:29 PM CST
So climate change nearly killed them, then the worst species ever, homo sapiens, finished them of like we are doing with the polar bears. Good article. got us on the climate change thing as well as man the planet destroyer.