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Neanderthals and us, the true story

By JW Dowey - 02 May 2014 11:52:0 GMT
Neanderthals and us, the true story

The European bison has been a staple of past civilisation's diet. The use of their meat and bodies by Neanderthals is now confirmed as the result of clever hunting technique, with the bones of several animals used to make advanced micro-blades and many other technological marvels. So primitive these people were not, just older! Bison image; Credit: © Shutterstock

We know a lot about Neanderthals considering we don't understand much about them. We have often simply dismissed the whole species as "under-performing" or even worse. Paola Villa and Wil Roebroeks, of the University of Colorado Museum and Universite Bordeaux, respectively, have tried to cut through an awful lot of supposition and give us the latest and a clear picture of who they and we are They publish their paper in Plos One under the title - Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex.

The crux of their argument is that Neanderthals have not disappeared. They seem to have competed well and developed equivalent techniques to our own, such as driving whole herds of Pleistocene bison or the extinct woolly rhinoceros,Coelodonta antiquitatis, down limestone sinkholes in order to pick up a few heavy steak suppers afterwards. This hunting cognisance, communication, innovation in tool-making and supreme adaptation to glaciations served them well for around 300,000 years. The method of course is recorded as surviving with native North Americans, hunting the same species by driving them from cliffs.

What is likely to have undone the neanderthalensis systems was something new out of Africa. As they hunted the Eurasian plains, our species emerged, probably via the Middle East. The revelation of this paper is that genetic studies reveal a likely absorption of the sister species into our own. 40,000 years ago, this review of archaeology and the 2 species' habits revealed no evidence of our superiority. Often, tools and other finds may be different, but developed to a peak of perfection for both of us! 19th century and earlier idealism, racism or simple self-importance still hangs around our cultures, refusing to accept the subtle or for several historical figures, the, "flaming obvious!"

We mustn't be too hard on these discoverers. Modern technique gives us information they could only dream of. There is some similarity with the two human species' cultures here. Hopefully the lost parts of neanderthalism were as useless to us as the early theorists from archaeology. These new genetic interpretations may be incorrect, too. People will certainly be interested as to how exactly this proposed interbreeding would happen.

As the Middle Palaeolithic technologies developed into the modern humans' Upper Palaeolithic. African origins, 195,000 years ago, of the Homo sapiens skull and the AMH (anatomically-modern human) led to discoveries of modern African technologies and, especially significant behavioural and cognitive differences between the two sets of hominins. This leaves us with the theory that our arrival prompted the disappearance of the earlier species. When this happens, various possibilities occur genetically. As the AMH advanced into Arabia about 125,000 years ago, and then India at 77ka, these individuals may have carried the new technologies. Would the tools have suited the environments and animals they encountered?

Superior size of population, and general cognition or linguistic skills are proposed among the reasons for other hominins' loss. As far as the Neanderthals are concerned, all of these characteristics now apply equally to them. Perhaps they were the only hominins who could compete. Their distinctive skull shape and morphology disappeared, but their genes remain in all of our gene pools.