The mystery of why Neanderthals died may have been solved, and rather than some sort of catastrophic event, scientists now say it could be something as simple as a common childhood disease.
A new study has suggested that ear infections are responsible for their extinction.
Today they can only be treated with modern drugs such as antibiotics, but Neanderthals have suffered many complications from ear infections, including respiratory infections, hearing loss and pneumonia.
The study, published in the journal Anatomical Record, found that the ears of Neanderthals were comparable to the ears of human children and did not change with age as children did.
“It may sound very fetching, but for the first time, when we rebuilt the Eustachian tubes of Neanderthals, we discovered that they were quite similar to human babies,” says Professor Samuel Marquez of downstate Health at the University of Science in New York.