Did Neanderthal man die out because he was too smart for his own good?
We like to think our superior brainpower led to their demise.
But it seems the real reason the Neanderthals died out may be because they were too clever for their own good.
Researchers say that rather than being outwitted by the superior intellect of modern man, our caveman cousins were every bit as sophisticated.
Their brains and charms led to them being sought as mates by our ancestors, who, due to simple numbers, soon began to rule the roost.
Arizona State University academics came up with the theory after running data about life in Europe and Asia during the last Ice Age through a computer program.
Neanderthals and modern humans lived alongside each other for thousands of years during that time, before the former became extinct 30,000 years ago.
The study suggests that as the two peoples roamed further in the search for food, the Neanderthals were slowly absorbed by the more numerous modern humans, until they disappeared as a recognisable population.
The interbreeding meant that their own line died out, said Professor Julien Riel-Salvatore, of the University of Colorado, adding: ‘In many ways they were simply victims of their own success.’