The Neanderthals were not destroyed by volcanic ash

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Неандертальцев сгубил не вулканический пепел

Tiny witnesses of a terrible eruption (photo by Suzanne MacLachlan / BOSCORF / National Oceanography Centre, U. K.).

Secrets of the past: Neanderthals were not destroyed by volcanic ash. About 40 thousand years ago West of the modern city of Naples (Italy) there was a severe volcanic eruption, ash covered most of Central and Eastern Europe. Some believe that combined with the cold snap in the Northern hemisphere (volcanic winter) contributed to the disappearance of the Neanderthals.

But a new study of microscopic particles of volcanic glass come to the conclusion that the eruption happened after the Neandertals had largely died out. Blame habit is laid on competition with modern humans.

The issue of the disappearance of the Neanderthals continues to be one of the most important. For many years experts have addressed for explanations to the changing climate, competition with modern man, then combined both factors. Recently climate camp «came forward»: European scientists have found that the Italian eruption, known as kempiniski the ignimbrite (Campanian Ignimbrite, CI), was two to three times more powerful than previously thought. The researchers calculated that ash and chemical aerosols emitted by the eruption, three years have cooled the Northern hemisphere by as much as 2 C.

Modern humans came to Europe from Africa and perhaps from the Middle East just in time for eruption and destruction of the Neanderthals (plus or minus a few thousand years). But some experts suspect that the decline of the Neanderthals began even before that.

A group of scientists composed of more than 40 researchers from across Europe, led by geographer John Lowe of the College Royal Holloway in Egemi (University of London, UK) applied a new technique for detecting volcanic ash over a much greater area than before. The method is based on the fields of CryptoAPI — tiny particles of volcanic glass that are not visible to the naked eye. Unlike visible ash deposits, which overlie in a more limited area, kryptomere much easier to move to remote places and also in marine, lacustrine and swamp environments. In addition, the analysis of the chemical composition of microscopic particles can be attributed to specific eruptions.

The scientists collected samples cryptoheros related to CI, of the four Central European caves where he found the typical stone tools and other artifacts of the Neanderthals and modern humans. Examined particles from the settlement of modern man in Libya, but also from swamps and marine environments of Greece and the Aegean sea. The results, according to experts, is incompatible with the hypothesis that CI is responsible for the extinction of the Neanderthals — at least in Central Europe. Cryptodira related to CI lies above, and therefore dates from a later time, when it was carried out the change of tools of human Neanderthal in all four Central European sites.

In addition, analysis of tree pollen and other climatic indicators confirmed that the CI was a contemporary of the cold snap — the so-called Heinrich events. Thus, the data indicate that the eruption and the cold snap happened after the Neandertals had disappeared from Central Europe.

The authors emphasize that their findings are relevant only to Central and Eastern Europe.

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