March 20, 2015

Campanian Ignibrite and Neandertal demise

Geology doi:10.1130/G36514.1

Campanian Ignimbrite volcanism, climate, and the final decline of the Neanderthals

Benjamin A. Black1, Ryan R. Neely2,3,4 and Michael Manga1

The eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite at ca. 40 ka coincided with the final decline of Neanderthals in Europe. Environmental stress associated with the eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite has been invoked as a potential driver for this extinction as well as broader upheaval in Paleolithic societies. To test the climatic importance of the Campanian eruption, we used a three-dimensional sectional aerosol model to simulate the global aerosol cloud after release of 50 Tg and 200 Tg SO2. We coupled aerosol properties to a comprehensive earth system model under last glacial conditions. We find that peak cooling and acid deposition lasted one to two years and that the most intense cooling sidestepped hominin population centers in Western Europe. We conclude that the environmental effects of the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption alone were insufficient to explain the ultimate demise of Neanderthals in Europe. Nonetheless, significant volcanic cooling during the years immediately following the eruption could have impacted the viability of already precarious populations and influenced many aspects of daily life for Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans.



Grey said...

cooling would hurt neanderthals?

i'd have thought the opposite - a sudden cooling would more likely lead to a resurgence.

eurologist said...


Temperatures were already quite low and fluctuating. Between ~50kya and 45kya, temperatures dropped to almost LGM levels. By ~40kya temperatures had just briefly recovered (still ~4C below Holocene averages) when (partially due to the eruption) they dipped down, again. These pretty wild fluctuations mean ever-changing biotopes and reduced local diversity and food availability - all of which requires great adaptability, but even in the best scenario will lead to a drastically reduced population size. Also, modern humans were very good at cold-steppe hunting - Neanderthals not so much.

sykes.1 said...

Today the WSJ has an article attributing their demise to humans with dogs, a supposedly much better hunting team.

Alashire said...

Mammoth surfing on ice and Yep scientist Love ice, it speaks to them and tells them everything they ever wanted to know. But mostly it is a cheap trick! they love it and buy and sell it to each other , because takes millions of years to do what water can do in minutes. and they like to play with time.

Grey said...




i could see dogs being a significant advantage.

eurologist said...

"Today the WSJ has an article attributing their demise to humans with dogs, a supposedly much better hunting team."


I have theorized about that for years - but for other reasons. Not just hunting; dogs allowed the elderly, infirm and younger children to safely stay home. They warn against predators and other humans and thus prevent ambush-type attacks, and can participate in a fight. AMHs were very good at long-distance fighting, so as long as they were warned, they were in pretty good shape.

dwaggonerstr said...

Neanderthals are present in the arctic circle at Byozavaya so Eurologist is wrong as usual. The oldest (questionable) evidence of dog domestication is 27,000 years old at Predmosti. The oldest REAL evidence of dogs is baeely 10,000 tears old. Neanderthals are present in Europe as late as 24,000 ybp. Neanderthals and modern humans are one and the same and