Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Climate deteriorations and Neanderthal demise in interior Iberia - a note

Interesting paper by Wolf, Kolb et al on the impact of climate change and Neanderthal demise in interior Iberior. The abstract reads:
Time and circumstances for the disappearance of Neanderthals and its relationship with the advent of Modern Humans are not yet sufficiently resolved, especially in case of the Iberian Peninsula. Reconstructing palaeoenvironmental conditions during the last glacial period is crucial to clarifying whether climate deteriorations or competition and contacts with Modern Humans played the pivotal role in driving Neanderthals to extinction. A high-resolution loess record from the Upper Tagus Basin in central Spain demonstrates that the Neanderthal abandonment of inner Iberian territories 42 kyr ago coincided with the evolvement of hostile environmental conditions, while archaeological evidence testifies that this desertion took place regardless of modern humans’ activities. According to stratigraphic findings and stable isotope analyses, this period corresponded to the driest environmental conditions of the last glacial apart from an even drier period linked to Heinrich Stadial 3. Our results show that during Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 4 and 2 climate deteriorations in interior Iberia temporally coincided with northern hemisphere cold periods (Heinrich stadials). Solely during the middle MIS 3, in a period surrounding 42 kyr ago, this relation seems not straightforward, which may demonstrate the complexity of terrestrial climate conditions during glacial periods. 
D. Wolf, T. Kolb, M. Alcaraz-Castaño, S. Heinrich, P. Baumgart, R. Calvo, J. Sánchez, K. Ryborz, I. Schäfer, M. Bliedtner, R. Zech, L. Zöller & D. Faust, "Climate deteriorations and Neanderthal demise in interior Iberia", Scientific Reports,volume 8, Article number: 7048 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25343-6 Received: 20 September 2017, Accepted 17 April 2018, Published 04 May 2018

One of the issues we have discussed here that also came up in discussion during my recent Armidale seminar paper is the need to properly understand local variations in climatic conditions during the Pleistocene and Holocene if we are to understand the Aboriginal history of New England.

This paper makes the same point in a different context. The abstract is fairly dry (the full paper is on-line: link above), but a key point from the paper can be summarised this way: interior Iberia (modern Spain) became very dry and inhospitable with reduced vegetation at particular periods. One period coincided with Neanderthal occupation. It seems that the Neanderthals were not wiped out,  but may have retreated to coastal refuge areas where conditions were more benign. .

During glacial periods, the climate became drier as well as colder because so much water was tied up in ice. However, there were considerable variations at local level. For example, research results from the Little Llangothlin lagoon on the high New England suggest local variations during the Late Glacial Maximum that do not quite fit with the conventional analysis.

I now have a mass of new reading to do and to report on!

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