European Neanderthals almost became extinct before the arrival of modern humans

European Neanderthals almost became extinct before the arrival of modern humans

New findings from an international group of researchers show that most of Europe's Neanderthals died around 50,000 years ago. The previously held view of a Europe inhabited by a stable population of Neanderthals for hundreds of thousands of years until modern humans arrived, it must be revised.

Is new perspective of neanderthals comes from a study of ancient DNA published February 25 in Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The results indicate that most Neanderthals in Europe died about 50,000 years ago. After that, a small group of Neanderthals recolonized central and eastern Europe, where another 10,000 years survived before the arrival of modern humans.

The study is the result of an international project led by Swedish and Spanish researchers in Uppsala, Stockholm and Madrid.

The fact that Neanderthals in Europe almost went extinct but later recovered, and that this took place before coming into contact with modern humans, is a complete surprise to us. This indicates that Neanderthals may have been more sensitive to the drastic changes in climate that took place during the last Ice Age.", He says Love dalen, associate professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

In connection with the DNA work of the Neanderthal fossils in northern Spain, researchers have found that the genetic variation of European Neanderthals was extremely limited during the last 10,000 years before they disappeared.

Ancient European Neanderthal fossils as well as fossils from Asia, show that it had a much greater genetic variation, while due to the amount of variation, it could be expected that the species would be more abundant in an area for a long period of time. "The amount of genetic variation in older Neanderthals, as well as in Asian Neanderthals, was as great as in modern humans with other species, while that of late European Neanderthals was not even as high as that of modern humans in Iceland.”Says Anders Götherström, associate professor at Uppsala University.

The results presented in the study are based on the severe DNA degradation and therefore the analyzes have required both advanced laboratories and calculation methods. The research group contains experts from a large number of countries, including statisticians, experts in modern DNA sequencing, and paleoanthropologists from Denmark, Spain, and the United States.

Only when all members of the international research group have reviewed the findings, can they feel confident that available genetic data actually reveals an important and previously unknown part of Neanderthal history.

This type of interdisciplinary study is very valuable in advancing research on our evolutionary history. The DNA of prehistoric people has led to a host of unsuspected discoveries in recent years, and it will be very exciting to see the discoveries of the years ahead.", He says Juan Luis Arsuaga, professor of human paleontology at the Complutense University of Madrid.

Image: UCM

With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.

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