Paleoanthropology

Interglacial Neanderthal habitats

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 491
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.491-a

Neanderthals may have preferred warm Mediterranean climates.

PHOTO: SUDRES JEAN-DANIEL/HEMIS.FR

Despite burgeoning research in Neanderthal archaeology in recent years, much remains to be discovered about their interactions with the paleoenvironment. Using a species distribution modeling approach, Benito et al. studied how climate and topography shaped Neanderthal distribution in Europe during the Last Interglacial optimum around 120 thousand years ago, when the climate was warmer than it is today. Archaeological records and paleoclimatic data indicate that Mediterranean coastal regions with locally varied topography and mild summers were the most favored habitat. Montane regions such as the Alps and Pyrenees, as well as the central European plains, once thought to be the core Neanderthal habitat, were suboptimal because of low winter temperatures.

J. Biogeogr. 44, 51 (2017).

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