Neanderthals: A Different Story

Neanderthals had to compete against modern humans and were wiped off the face of the Earth in a prehistoric battle for survival, according to a new report. Modern humans were better at surviving the cold and had more efficiently ways of hunting for food. Thirty scientists compiled the report, which was based on extensive data from sediment cores, archaeological artefacts such as fossils and tools, radiometric dating and climate models.

It gives an idea of what life was like in Europe from 60,000 to 25,000 years ago and was part of a project known as Stage 3, which refers to the time period analysed. One of the scientists involved in the research said that a combination of factors killed the Neanderthals. "They were in competition with anatomically modern humans at a time when there was increasing severe cold stress that was not only affecting them, but also the food resources they relied on," said Professor Leslie Aiello, head of the U.K.'s University College London Graduate School, and an expert on Neanderthal response to weather, according to &to=' target=_blank>ABC

© &to=' target=_blank> reports that a study of the skulls of Neanderthals, comparing them with early and modern humans, concludes that the ancient group is unlikely to have been the ancestor of people today. Scientists have long debated whether humans are related to Neanderthals, the squat, powerful hunters who dominated Europe for 100,000 years before dying out. Also, the difference was as great as or greater than that found between closely related primate species, such as humans, gorillas and chimpanzees. Although Harvati says the analysis "cannot completely rule out" a relationship between humans and Neanderthals, it strongly suggests they are separate species. The jawbone, dated at 34,000 to 36,000 years ago, when humans overlapped with Neanderthals, has characteristics similar to other early modern humans, but also certain features that indicate a possible Neanderthal connection, the researchers said. That suggests the possibility of interbreeding with Neanderthals.

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