Did humans kill their ancestor Neanderthals? Scientists say so

Neanderthals were wiped out due to interbreeding, almost 40,000 years ago.

The Neanderthals
An exhibit shows the life of a neanderthal family in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina February 25, 2010. Reuters

Experts unearthed Neanderthal artifacts from three new sites located at the Iberian Peninsula which dates back 37,000 years. These new findings suggest that Neanderthals survived 3,000 years longer than previously thought in present-day southern Spain. Cueva Antón in Spain now is the most recent Neanderthal site.

The artifacts were discovered at Cueva Antón, Finca Doña Martina and Abrigo de La Boja. Stone tools and decorative shells have been found. The team from institutions in Portugal, Spain, Catalonia, Germany, Austria and Italy revealed what led our cousins to become extinct.

Research now claims that the Neanderthals were wiped out due to interbreeding, almost 40,000 years ago. The team states that Neanderthals were absorbed by modern human population or the Homo sapiens. Geographically detached populations of Neanderthals might have existed beyond the estimated period of time.

Neanderthals originated from a shared ancestor. The group, however, split from humans between 1,000,000 and 800,000 years ago.

Neanderthal  artifacts
Neanderthal artifacts Heliyon journal

"Technology from the Middle Palaeolithic in Europe is exclusively associated with the Neanderthals," João Zilhão from the University of Barcelona told DailyMail. The recently discovered Neanderthal remains in the three new excavation sites are significantly older than those in Western Europe.

Neanderthal  artifacts
Neanderthal artifacts Heliyon journal

The Middle Paleolithic was a part of the Stone Age that stretched from 300,000 to 30,000 years ago. Modern humans started leaving the continent of Africa in this particular age. The migration from Africa to Europe took place some 560,000 years ago, even before the modern humans. Early humans, including the Neanderthals, started blending with the Eurasian population through interbreeding. Patterns of interbreeding and evolution differed from one geographical location to another.

The first set of Homo sapiens to reach Europe was 100,000 years ago. As per the latest research, they wiped out the Neanderthals after thousand years. Tropical diseases, climate change, might be a cause of the extinction of the Neanderthals. However, Darwin's survival of the fittest theory played a big role here. The age-long fight for food and habitat, between the Neanderthals and early humans, wiped our ancestors out, said the latest findings. The team claims that Neanderthals failed to gain victory over the Homo sapiens' superior intellect and power.

"Our textbook ideas about Neanderthals and modern humans have been mostly derived from finds in France, Germany and Central Europe. During the Ice Ages, these were peripheral areas. Probably as much as half of the Palaeolithic people who ever lived in Europe were Iberians," João Zilhão further added.