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Neanderthal coexistence with Homo sapiens in Europe was affected by herbivore carrying capacity

Abstract: It has been proposed that climate change and the arrival of modern humans in Europe affected the disappearance of Neanderthals due to their impact on trophic resources; however, it has remained challenging to quantify the effect of these factors. By using Bayesian age models to derive the chronology of the European Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, followed by a dynamic vegetation model that provides the Net Primary Productivity, and a macroecological model to compute herbivore abundance, we show that in continental regions where the ecosystem productivity was low or unstable, Neanderthals disappeared before or just after the arrival of Homo sapiens. In contrast, regions with high and stable productivity witnessed a prolonged coexistence between both species. The temporal overlap between Neanderthals and H. sapiens is significantly correlated with the carrying capacity of small- and medium-sized herbivores. These results suggest that herbivore abundance released the trophic pressure of the secondary consumers guild, which affected the coexistence likelihood between both human species.

 Authorship: Vidal-Cordasco M., Terlato G., Ocio D., Marín-Arroyo A.B.,

 Fuente: Science Advances, 2023, 9(38), eadi4099

 Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science

 Year of publication: 2023

 No. of pages: 20

 Publication type: Article

 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adi4099

 ISSN: 2375-2548

 European project: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/H2020/818299/EU/Subsistence and human resilience to sudden climatic events in Europe during MIS3/SUBSILIENCE/