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Is Global Warming What Killed Off the Neanderthals?

Those mysterious early humans we call Neanderthals once lived in an area that stretched from Asia to Western Europe. Then suddenly, around 30,000 years ago, they vanished, and no scientist has been able to figure out exactly why. Now some researchers think it was climate change that did them in.

Not everyone realizes that global warming does not just cause the weather to get warmer?it can lead to COLDER weather as well. What it does is produce more weather EXTREMES. In the Independent, Ian Herbert reports on the work of researcher Clive Finlayson, who is studying sediment cores which have been drilled from the seabed in an area of Spain, which scientists think was one of the last refuges of Neanderthals. These cores reveal that the temperature in that area suddenly plunged to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, which was extremely cold, compared to the temperatures in that area today, which average between 57 and 68 degrees. Herbert quotes Finlayson as saying, "[The chill] looks pretty severe and also quite short. Things like olive trees and oak trees that are still with us today managed to ride it out. But a very fragmented, stressed population of Neanderthals?and perhaps other elements of the fauna?did not."

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