The researchers say that of the six or more different species in the genus Homo, only Homo sapiens survived.
Hominins, or human-like species, appeared in Africa nearly three million years ago, but they were all gone 10,000 years ago.
The team said their findings, published in One Earth magazine, serve as a kind of warning to people today about unprecedented climate change.
Professor Pasquale Raia of the Universita di Napoli Federico II in Naples, Italy, the lead author of the study, said: “It is worrying to discover that our ancestors were no less impressive in terms of their mental capacity than any other species in the world Earth could not withstand climate change.
“And we have found that it is precisely when our own species is sawing the branch we are sitting on that we are causing climate change.
“Personally, I take this as a thundering warning.
“Climate change has made homo vulnerable and unhappy in the past, and this may happen again right now.”
The researchers conducted climate simulations from the past five million years and examined data from 2,750 archaeological records.
Her goal was to understand how early humans, including H. habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. neanderthalensis, reacted to climate change.
The researchers said they found robust evidence that the extinctions of three homo species – H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. neanderthalensis – coincided with “sharp, adverse changes in global climate.”
In the case of Neanderthals, things would likely get worse from competition with H. sapiens, they added.
Prof. Raia said, “Our results show that despite technological innovations, including the use of fire and nifty stone tools, the formation of complex social networks and, in the case of Neanderthals, even the manufacture of glued spearheads, customized clothing and a good one cultural and genetic exchange with Homo sapiens, earlier homo species could not survive the intense climate change. ”
He added: “We were surprised by the regularity of the effects of climate change.
“It was crystal clear that for the extinct species and only for them the climatic conditions shortly before extinction and only at this particular moment were simply too extreme.”
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