An ecocultural model predicts Neanderthal extinction through competition with modern humans.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Gilpin, William; Feldman, Marcus W; Aoki, Kenichi
Year of Publication: 2016
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Volume: 113
Issue: 8
Pagination: 2134-9
Date Published: 2016 Feb 23
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1091-6490

Archaeologists argue that the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans was driven by interspecific competition due to a difference in culture level. To assess the cogency of this argument, we construct and analyze an interspecific cultural competition model based on the Lotka-Volterra model, which is widely used in ecology, but which incorporates the culture level of a species as a variable interacting with population size. We investigate the conditions under which a difference in culture level between cognitively equivalent species, or alternatively a difference in underlying learning ability, may produce competitive exclusion of a comparatively (although not absolutely) large local Neanderthal population by an initially smaller modern human population. We find, in particular, that this competitive exclusion is more likely to occur when population growth occurs on a shorter timescale than cultural change, or when the competition coefficients of the Lotka-Volterra model depend on the difference in the culture levels of the interacting species.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1524861113
Alternate Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.