Researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, and Bulgaria presented new evidence in the July 23, 2012, issue of the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences that indicates that volcanic activity near the time that Neanderthals disappeared from the world was not the major cause of Neanderthals disappearance.
The scientists examined the microscopic evidence from volcanic ash deposits from sites located in Greece, the Aegean Sea, Libya, and four central European caves that were the result of the Campanian Ignimbrite volcanic eruptions dating to around 40,000 years ago. The Campanian Ignimbrite volcanic eruptions centered on Greece. More than 150 cubic kilometers of magma were expelled during the eruptions.
Scientists had often supposed that climate change and the huge volume of volcanic ash played a large part in the extinction of the Neanderthals but this new research points out that the widespread and diverse occupations in Eastern Europe and North Africa by modern man by the time of the eruption was a more likely cause for the Neanderthals demise.
The scientists verified their assumptions by examination of cryptotephra deposits - volcanic ash layers not visible to the naked eye - that correlated to the time frames in which Neanderthals became extinct.
John Lowe a,1, Nick Barton b, Simon Blockley a, Christopher Bronk Ramsey c, Victoria L. Cullen c, William Davies d, Clive Gamble d, Katharine Grant e, Mark Hardiman a, Rupert Housley a, Christine S. Lane c, Sharen Lee c , Mark Lewis f, Alison MacLeod a, Martin Menzies g, Wolfgang Müller g, Mark Pollard c, Catherine Price b, Andrew P. Roberts h, Eelco J. Rohling e, Chris Satow a, Victoria C. Smith c, Chris B. Stringer f, Emma L. Tomlinson g, Dustin White b,d, Paul Albert g, Ilenia Arienzo i, Graeme Barker j, Du san Boric´ k, Antonio Carandente i , Lucia Civett a l, Catherine Ferrier m, JeanLuc Guadelli m, Panagiotis Karkanas n, Margarita Koumouzelis n, Ulrich C. Müller o, Giovanni Orsi i, Jörg Pross o, Mauro Rosi p, Ljiljiana Shalamanov-Korobar
q, Nikolay Sirakov r, and Polychronis C. Tzedakis s
A Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom;
B Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University, OxfordOX1 2PG, United Kingdom;
C Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom;
D Archaeology Department, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom;
E School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Hampshire SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom;
F Palaeontology Department, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom;
G Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom;
H Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Acton ACT 0200, Australia;
I Istituto Nazionale di Geoﬁsica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Napoli, Osservatorio Vesuviano, 80124
J McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge CB2 3ER,
K Cardiff School of History, Ancient History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3EU, United Kingdom;
L Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Università Federico II, 80126 Naples, Italy;
M De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel: Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie, Préhistoire, Palèoenvironnement, Patrimonie, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5199 Centre National de la Recherche Scientiﬁque, Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence Cedex, France;
N Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology–Speleology of Southern Greece, 116 36 Athens, Greece;
O Institute of Geosciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany;
P Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy;
Q National Institution Museum of Macedonia, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia;
R National Institute of Archaeology and Museum of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Prehistory, Soﬁa 1000, Bulgaria; and
S Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom