Neanderthals were losers when it came to competition

Two animal species can rarely occupy the same niche (a specific role in an ecosystem). The same, it seems, goes for human populations. A new study of Neanderthal and modern human sites in the south of France concludes that the moderns so greatly outnumbered their evolutionary cousins that Neanderthals had little choice but to go extinct.

For more than 100,000 years, Neanderthals had Europe all to themselves. Then, beginning roughly 40,000 years ago, modern humans—Homo sapiens—began migrating into the continent from Africa. Although researchers debate how long the Neanderthals hung around, these ancient humans probably did not survive much longer than 5000 years. Just why they disappeared is also a matter of contention, but most experts agree that H. sapiens was able to outgun its rival in either direct or indirect competition for food and other resources. Learn more here.

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2 Responses to “Neanderthals were losers when it came to competition”

  1. Ben Says:

    It makes you wonder if Neanderthals had evolved a different breeding strategy altogether – something that worked for them until hordes of us started pouring in.

    By the way, I noticed that you spelled the term “Neanderthal” in the title, but “Neandertal” in the post – I’ve seen it spelled both ways, and I wondered if you knew which was the more “accepted” spelling.

    • Mr. Barlow Says:

      Hi Ben,
      Thanks for picking that up. I have updated the post to reflect the (in my opinion) more correct spelling of “Neanderthal”.
      Cheers,
      Mr. Barlow

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