Date of Award

2-2-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Christensen - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Melanie Devore

Third Advisor

Dr. W.Crawford Elliott

Fourth Advisor

Kenneth Terrell

Abstract

In this research, the relationship of climatic changes between 130k to 28k years BP to concurrent morphological variations in Neanderthals was tested. Traditional anthropological studies attribute robust Neanderthal morphological traits as an adaptation to a cold environment. A database of previously completed terrestrial paleoclimatic reconstructions in Europe and the Mediterranean was compiled and used to create a series of GIS-generated timeslice maps. Regional climatic conditions were then related to changes in Neanderthal appearances, morphology and disappearances as evident in the archaeological record. To establish climatic conditions, existing studies were compiled from two regions: Europe and the Mediterranean. The European data are based on pollen assemblage sequences from terrestrial lacustrine cores. The Mediterranean data are based on established ƒÔ18O/16O and ƒÔ13C/12C maximum and minimum events recorded in speleothems. The GIS perspective allows these changes to be viewed at significant time to better correlate regional climatic changes with known Neanderthal morphological variation and to extend the investigation both temporally, including Stage 4 and Stage 5e, and geographically, into the Mediterranean from similarly completed studies.

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