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Volcanoes and Neanderthals – update

6 October 2010

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006094057.htm there is more on the October Current Anthropology paper by Golovanova and Doronichov. They think the Neanderthal demise was abrupt – a catastrophe. This involved powerful volcanic activity in western Eurasia around 40,000 years ago. It created mass depopulation – a die-off Neanderthals and many other species. Large numbers were involved. Evidence is said to come from a cave in the Caucasus where there are two distinct layers of volcanic ash – implying two events. The relevant geology associated with this ash also holds evidence of an abrupt climate change in the aftermath. Sediment samples taken at the site show greatly reduced pollen accumulations – a shift to a much cooler and drier climate, they suggest (but here again we have that problem as noted at the YD boundary event, the assumption that a layer of sediment was laid down over a long period whereas if a catastrophe was involved that must imply sediment was laid quicker than what is assumed). The second layer of ash marks the terminal point of Neanderthals in the Caucusus – as they disappear entirely from the record. No bones or stone tools or their prey animals (now, that is interesting) are found in the geology above the ash deposit. The ash layers converge chronologically, the authors maintain, to what is known as the Campanian Ignimbrite super eruption around 40,000 years ago – in Italy. The eruptions, combined, created a volcanic winter as ash clouds obscured the heat of the Sun – but for how long? We may note that the volcanic activity may tie in with a cosmic event of some kind . a triggering device.

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