Supremacy gave humans numerical advantage against Neanderthals

Supremacy gave humans numerical advantage against Neanderthals. 45008.jpegStudy showed that 40 thousand years ago the population of modern humans multiplied from 9 to 10 times

The rapidly growing number of modern humans 40,000 years ago may have been a decisive factor in competition between modern humans and Neanderthals, according to a new study, published this Thursday (28th) in the journal Science.

In the work, archaeologists Sir Paul Mellars and Jennifer French, both from the University of Cambridge, England, analyzed the presence of Neanderthals and humans in a period ranging from 55 to 35 thousand years ago. The result was that the number of humans multiplied by nine or ten in this period.

Done on the basis of a statistical analysis of the number of tools and food remains at three archeological sites in France, the research states that "these data show that the numerical superiority alone must have been a powerful factor in demographic and territorial competition between modern humans and Neanderthals," Mellars and French write the article.

The technological, economic, social and biological reasons for which modern humans were able to survive in much larger populations than the Neanderthals are still a subject of debate.

Scientists believe that Homo sapiens had clear advantages in hunting, food processing and storage of food, with more complex social relations and symbolic reasoning ability and planning.  "All this may have had a dramatic effect on the survivability and competition from modern humans," the researchers also says in the text.

Some experts have argued against the results of the article. The conclusion, they say, is not necessarily wrong, although the methods are outdated. The paleoanthropologist, Erik Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, said he proposed the same event two years ago, but said that the methodology of counting artifacts to calculate population has been rejected by the archaeological community for years.

"The number of sites has little to do with population density. For example, a group of hunter-gatherers who move will leave much less than in sedentary group sites, which were in place for a long time and accumulate more junk."

Christopher Ramsey, the University of Oxford, said the study only provides more quantitative evidence than we have ever imagined what happened. Like John Zilhao, a researcher at the University of Barcelona, ​​Trinkaus echoed the criticisms of the methodology, and said that what happened was not a simple substitution. "We have genetic and paleontological evidence that there was assimilation, not pure species substitution."


Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya