In this 2013 photo provided by Bogdan Onac, researcher Vasile Ersek stands in the Ascunsa Cave in Romania. Scientists say ancient shifts in climate helped our species replace Neanderthals in Europe. Researchers used data from this cave and another to document two lengthy cold and dry periods. The report, released Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found these periods coincided with the disappearance of Neanderthals and the arrival of our species in specific places. (Bogdan Onac via AP)

Cold, dry climate shifts linked to Neanderthal disappearance

August 27, 2018 - 12:07 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study suggests ancient shifts in climate helped our species replace Neanderthals in Europe.

That idea has been proposed before to explain why Neanderthals died out about 40,000 years ago. But the new work presents new results about ancient climate that bolster the claim.

Researchers found evidence of long spells of cold and dry climate when they analyzed data from two caves in Romania. Those spells coincided with the disappearance of Neanderthals and the later appearance of our own species at some other European sites.

Scientists don't know whether that means the Neanderthals died out at those spots, or just moved away.

The report was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.