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Neandertals blasted out of existence, archaeologists propose

Modern humans may have thrived thanks to geographic luck, not wits

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3:37pm, September 24, 2010

Neandertals didn’t get dumped on prehistory’s ash heap — it got dumped on them. At least three volcanic eruptions about 40,000 years ago devastated Neandertals’ western Asian and European homelands, spurring a rapid demise of these humanlike hominids, says a team led by archaeologist Liubov Golovanova of the ANO Laboratory of Prehistory in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Modern humans survived because they lived in Africa and on the tip of southwestern Asia at that time, safely outside the range of volcanic ash clouds, Golovanova’s group proposes in the October Current Anthropology.

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