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Neanderthals: Sadly, there were too many of us. We crowded them out.

In the latest episode of Human Evolution: The Trooth, “Humans crowded out Europe’s Neanderthals” (ABC News, July 29, 2011), we learn,

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found more sites where modern humans settled, larger settlement areas, greater densities of tools and bigger amounts of animal and food remains, suggesting Neanderthals were crowded out.

Homo sapiens also likely had more elaborate social networks and possibly sharper brains, as evidenced by the stone tools, jewellery and artwork they left behind which was much more advanced than Neanderthal creations.

Neanderthals did artwork and jewellery?

About the tools: It’s not true that ‘thal’ tools were clumsy. You needed bigger hands.

Human evolution theories help people vent their inner anxieties. Period. That’s their big contribution to science. Or social work. Or therapy. Or something.

See also: She did SO marry a Neanderthal!

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5 Responses to Neanderthals: Sadly, there were too many of us. We crowded them out.

  1. 1

    “crowded out”? What a euphamism. We’ve pushed people out or exterminated them throughout history, why would we have treated people that looked a bit different any better? Modern humans emerged from Africa into occupied territory. The peoples we found there, erectus and neaderthal are now agreed to have been “human”. Given some current human proclivities it should not come as a surprise that we were also willing to mate with them. We are about 5% neaderthal. Maybe we were better organized, maybe a bit smarter, but lets not flatter ourselves, we may well have been more fanatical, united by hate and demonization of the other. The poor saps probably didn’t have a chance. But then, an effective population size of only 10 to 20 thousand for the whole human race, is hypothesized to indicate that we weren’t very friendly company for each other.

    Sarah Palin’s own insight into why she is a conservative is the fallen nature of man (read her biography). Anthropology is converging on the same conclusion. Our classical liberals forefathers realized the dangers of having modern humans in positions of centralized power over others, and that is why they set up a republic with checks and balances on state power, and embraced democracy only to the extent that it serves as a check on state power, not as a means to impose the will of the majority on the rest.

  2. There is a recent study out that disputes that.

    “Homo erectus was thought to have co-existed alongside Homo sapiens in Asia for 5,000 years
    But scientists now believe it disappeared from Asia at least 100,000 years before arrival of Homo sapiens” June 30th, 2011

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci.....ought.html

  3. There is also pretty good evidence that Neanderthals had a significantly lower birthrate than we Cro-Magnons do, most likely because they had larger heads (with larger brains inside them, which required more food). It has been estimated that maximum reproductive output for the average Neanderthal female (assuming unlimited resources) was less than five, while the corresponding maximum for a “modern” female human is 10+.

    Furthermore, archaeological data indicate that Neanderthals were almost “obligate” carnivores – their diet was much higher in animal foods, while our ancestors were somewhere between omnivores and opportunistic herbivores (scavenging the occasional dead animal). So, from a purely ecological standpoint we replaced them without directly killing or eating them (but apparently mating with them on occasion).

  4. Finally, it is likely that as the ecology of southern Europe transitioned from glacial to post-glacial to inter-glacial, the particular biome type to which Neanderthals were adapted shrank until it disappeared, and was replaced by the biome type to which we (and our small, omnivorous, fecund ancestors) were adapted.

    Oops, but that sounds like evolutionary biology doesn’t it. I guess it’s much more likely that the Intelligent Designer simply designed us better than the Neanderthals…maybe they were a first draft and we’re Humanity Version 2.0…

  5. Allen_MacNeill:

    Oops, but that sounds like evolutionary biology doesn’t it.

    If by evolutionary biology you mean imaginative storytelling, yes.

    Otherwise, no.

    But now that I think about it, Europe does look alot like Africa.

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