Investigating the Modelling of Neanderthal Population Size

Author(s): Madisen Hvidberg; Dennis Sandgathe

Year: 2017


Developing some understanding of how many hominins occupied the landscape at any one point in prehistory can provide important insights into basic behavioural patterns, how these differed between hominin species, and how they changed over the course of the Pleistocene. Population density is an important factor in subsistence behaviours, mobility patterns, and the nature of group interaction. A number of approaches have been used by researchers to provide estimates for effective Neandertal population size across Eurasia: quantifying the Middle Palaeolithic archaeological record, quantifying genetic variability, and paleodemographic modelling. Given the huge area that the species occupied and compared to other top carnivore species, all published estimates for Neandertal population size and density are surprisingly low. This suggests that this topic should be explored in more depth. Here we focus on the paleodemographic modeling approach, which relies on developing effective birth and death rate values for an extinct hominin species. In order to put these numbers into perspective, data from modern hunter-gatherers and other top carnivore species living in similar regions were used as points of comparison. It was found that Neandertals are commonly estimated to have had populations over twenty times less dense than these modern analogs.

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Investigating the Modelling of Neanderthal Population Size. Madisen Hvidberg, Dennis Sandgathe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429057)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15038