Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
IMPLICATIONS OF PALEOCLIMATE VARIABLITY ON NEANDERTHAL MORPHOLOGY
In this research, we test the relationship of climatic changes between 130k to 28k years BP to concurrent morphological variations in Neanderthals. Traditional anthropological studies attribute robust Neanderthal traits as an adaptation to a cold environment. A database of previously completed terrestrial paleoclimatic reconstructions in Europe and the Mediterranean was compiled and used to create a series of GIS-generated timeslice maps. Regional climatic conditions were then related to changes in Neanderthal appearances, morphology and disappearances as evident in the archaeological record. To establish climatic conditions, we compiled existing studies from two regions: Europe and the Mediterranean. The European data are based on pollen assemblage sequences from terrestrial lacustrine cores. Palynological changes have historically been correlated with glacial advances and retreats. The Mediterranean data are based on established δ18O/16O and δ13C/12C maximum and minimum events recorded in speleothems. Our study offers a GIS perspective to view these changes at significant time intervals such as glacial and interglacial maxima and allows us to better correlate regional climatic changes with known Neanderthal morphological variation. A similar study (The Stage 3 Project) focuses on different criteria (Neanderthal extinction, settlement pattern, thermoregulation) and is limited to Stage 3 Europe. Our correlation offers an opportunity to extend the investigation temporally, including Stage 4 and Stage 5e, and geographically, into the Mediterranean.