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Researchers propose new paleontological theory

Approximately 50,000 years ago–between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic eras–humanity underwent an early technological revolution. Art, tools and various cultural relics developed at a rapid rate. Scholars and scientists have long debated what caused this transformation. Recently, several Stanford researchers proposed in Royal Society Interface, a journal of physical and life science, that the increase and diffusion of migration may have been key factors.

Stanford researchers add to Neanderthal debate

Two Stanford researchers are using mathematics to model the extinction of Neanderthals. Biology professor Marcus Feldman and applied physics Ph.D. student in William Gilpin collaborated with Kenichi Aoki of Meiji University to release a paper this past month using a measure of “culture” as the distinguishing factor between humans and Neanderthals.

The new paper took an interdisciplinary approach in order to explain why humans, not Neanderthals, became the prevalent species.

According to previously existing research, modern humans migrated to Europe around 45 thousand years ago. At the time, Neanderthals had already lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years and had established much larger populations than the migrating humans.