Extinction of Neanderthals

CODEX Entry 8225: The extinction of Neanderthals


Neanderthals are commonly believed to have died out quite suddenly around 30,000BC. Neanderthal brains were about 15% larger than Homo Sapiens brains and their muscular structure suggested superior strength.



There are four leading theories on the rapid extinction. The most popular assumes a viral extinction. It is proposed that, after domesticated animals, most pathogens spread to humans from our closest phylogenetic relatives, namely, other primates. As our current models assume no agriculture 30,000 years ago, and there are more primate species in Africa, Homo Sapiens would have developed immunities that European Neanderthals would not have had. The second hypothesis is that, somehow migrating Homo Sapiens euthanased the resident Neanderthal population, a strange concept in light of the Neanderthals superior mental and physical strength. The third assumes that the larger brains and muscles required additional calories and an environmental catastrophe such as the Campi Flegrei eruption, resulted in Neanderthal communities starving first. Even a more long term climatic shift might have led to a decline in available calories, which can in turn result in reductions in fertility and therefore the replacement population. Increasingly the idea that Neanderthals lived exclusively in Europe is losing ground, and such a rapid extinction combined with the relatively low levels of mixed breeding with Homo Sapiens, remains a mystery.