There are several theories trying to explain the disappearance of Neanderthals: climate and competition. A researcher at the National Center for the Humanities (CENIEH) in an article in the Journal of Anatomy claims that they disappeared due to low genetic diversity.
The fact is that he found that on the first cervical vertebra of several Neanderthals there was confirmation that the genetic diversity of the population was low, which hampered their ability to adapt to possible changes in the environment and, therefore, to their survival.
Neanderthals inhabited the European continent only 30,000 years ago, and their extinction remains a mystery. Work was carried out to decipher their genome to determine their genetic diversity, as well as an analysis of various anatomical characteristics in the fossil records of the species.
“We focused on the anatomical variations of the first cervical vertebra, known as the atlas. “The anatomical variants of this vertebra are closely related to genetic diversity: the greater the prevalence of this kind of anatomical variant, the lower the genetic diversity of the population”.Carlos A. Palancar, Researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences
As for modern humans, the atlas has one or more different anatomical changes in almost 30% of cases. In this study, which also involved researchers from the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid (MNCN-CSIC) and the University of Valencia, three vertebrae from the Krapina site (Croatia) and material from other sites of detection, such as El Sidron (Asturias), were analyzed.
Recently, researchers from the paleoanthropological group at MNCN have identified the presence of various anatomical variants in the atlases of Ne Saltr El El Sidrón. In order to confirm the high prevalence of these anatomical variants in species, they carried out an exhaustive analysis of the fossil atlases of Neanderthals from Krapina.
In Krapin, they lived about 130,000 years ago, compared with the age of about 50,000 years in El Sidron. This is the place from which the largest number of Neanderthal remains was extracted, which makes them a model of special interest in the analysis of the genetic diversity of this species since all individuals could potentially belong to the same population.