Key Differences in the Neanderthal Brain Reveal Explanation for Extinction

About 40,000 years ago, our closest relatives, the Neanderthals, went extinct. But the mystery of how they died is a paleoanthropological cold case, with many clues but no definitive answers. Cannibalism, a rapidly changing climate, natural disasters, and disease have all been blamed. A study published Thursday in Scientific Reports introduces yet another culprit to the list: the structure of the Neanderthal brain itself.

What the paper argues, in other words, is that ancient humans likely...

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