European Neanderthals may have been wiped out by a catastrophic volcanic eruption over 40,000 years ago, according to new research.
A new study says that a massive explosion caused the onset of a ‘volcanic winter’ that devastated their population.
Researchers led by Liubov Golovanova of Russia’s ANO Laboratory of Prehistory in St. Petersburg report that volcanic dust deposits found in a cave in the Caucasus show that an ecological disaster was responsible.
Very few plants existed in the volcanic dust layers, the researchers discovered.
The loss of plants would have affected the population of large mammals, which were the Neanderthals’ main source of food.
The Neanderthals were replaced about 30,000 years ago by modern-day humans.