Magazine article Geographical

Man's Best Friend: When It Came to Mastering Their Ancient Hunting Grounds, 'Modern' Humans Had a Technological Advantage over Their Neanderthal Rivals-The Dog

Magazine article Geographical

Man's Best Friend: When It Came to Mastering Their Ancient Hunting Grounds, 'Modern' Humans Had a Technological Advantage over Their Neanderthal Rivals-The Dog

Article excerpt

Humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals shared the same spaces for thousands of years before the latter group died off. Suggestions for the Neanderthals' demise include diseases caught from humans, climate change and genocide. But competitive pressure over game is another possible explanation gaining ground, and man's alliance with dog's ancestors appears to be the key.

'If modern humans formed an unprecedented alliance with wolves--another top predator in the ecosystem--then together they probably forced Neanderthals into extinction by simply out-competing them,' says Pat Shipman, a former anthropologist at Harvard University. 'Almost immediately after the appearance of modern humans in Eurasia, we see Neanderthals diminishing in genetic diversity, number of archaeological sites, size of sites, number of bones of prey in the sites, and population numbers.'

Dogs and wolves are very similar so telling their ancestors apart can be tricky. Research in Belgium dates the oldest dog skeleton to 36,000 years ago, around 20,000 years earlier than previously thought. …

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