Died out as a distinct ethnic group, that is. We are also told that current humans and Neanderthals definitely interbred.
Neanderthals may have died off because they failed to harness the power of fire to the extent their human cousins did, a new data analysis suggests.
Using fire for cooking would have allowed these other groups of ancient human relatives to get more calories from the same amount of food, thereby edging out the Neanderthal population. Over time, the anatomically modern human population would have risen, while the Neanderthal population plummeted toward extinction, according to the model.
Last month, a speculation walloped through the pop science media that wolves helped current humans kill off Neanderthals.
That thesis is vulnerable to the first Neanderthal burial that turns up a wolfhound skeleton. This one is vulnerable to the first evidence of Neanderthals cooking.
There is a cottage industry of speculations as to why the Neanderthals “died out,” when the genetic evidence points to them simply being submerged in the general human population and losing a separate identity.
Intermarriage with a larger population will tend to do that over time, without any need to suppose that the submerged population is inferior or “died out.” That is why, in the present day, some minority communities try to resist the trend. They would rather their communities survive along with their genes.
The cottage industry thrives because Darwinian evolution as an account of humans over time needs a separate, inferior species of human. And we must give Darwin’s followers credit for imagination and persistence under difficult circumstances.
See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?
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