But by 39,000 years ago, Neanderthals were struggling. Genetically they had low diversity because of inbreeding and they were reduced to very low numbers, partly because an extreme and rapid change of climate was pushing them out of many of their former habitats. A lot of the forested areas they depended on were disappearing and, while they were intelligent enough to adapt their tools and technology, their bodies were unable to adapt to the hunting techniques required for the new climate and landscapes.
“It could’ve gone the other way – if instead the climate had got wetter and warmer, we might be Neanderthals today discussing the demise of modern humans.”
Although the Neanderthals, like the Denisovans and other races we are yet to identify, died out, their genetic legacy lives on in people of European and Asian descent. Between 1 and 4 per cent of our DNA is of Neanderthal origins, but we don’t all carry the same genes, so across the population around 20 per cent of the Neanderthal genome is still being passed on. That’s an extraordinary amount, leading researchers to suspect that Neanderthal genes must be advantageous for survival in Europe.
Interbreeding across different races of human would have helped accelerate the accumulation of useful genes for the environment, a process that would have taken much longer to occur through evolution by natural selection. More.
So the Neanderthals did not “die out”; they just assimilated, to get hold of new technologies?
You know what they say about marrying the boss’s daughter. And who’s to say the Neanderthals don’t still rule? What do you really know about your supervisor’s genome?
See also: Do extinct Neanderthals control human gene expression?
Evidence suggests that there were no separate early human lineages?
Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
Follow UD News at Twitter!