Home » The Design of Life » Darwinism and popular folklore: Neanderthal man died out on account of equal opportunity?

Darwinism and popular folklore: Neanderthal man died out on account of equal opportunity?

Music to some ears this: According to a recent article in the boston Globe, Neanderthal man died out because Neanderthal woman had to help him hunt.

The Neanderthal extinction some 30,000 years ago remains one of the great riddles of evolution, with rival theories blaming everything from genocide committed by “real” humans to prehistoric climate change.

But a recent study introduces another explanation: Stone Age feminism. Among Neanderthals, hunting big beasts was women’s work as well as men’s, so it’s a safe bet that female hunters got stomped, gored, and worse with appalling frequency. And a high casualty rate among fertile women – the vital “reproductive core” of a tiny population – could well have meant demographic disaster for a species already struggling to survive among monster bears, yellow-fanged hyenas, and cunning Homo sapien newcomers.

The current claim (November 10, 2007) is,

Almost as provocatively, a husband-wife anthropological team has raised the possibility that female derring-do may have contributed to Neanderthals’ demise.

The University of Arizona’s Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, use archeological evidence to argue that Neanderthal females – unlike Homo sapien women of the Upper Paleolithic period – joined men in hunts at a time when stabbing giant beasts with a sharpish stone affixed to a stick represented the cutting edge of technology.

That’s courageous, but probably bad practice for a population that never numbered much more than 10,000 individuals. The loss of a few males to a flailing hoof or slashing antler is no big deal, in the long run. But losing females of child-bearing age could bring doom to a hard-pressed species.

I think the Neanderthals died out because Neanderthal man never took out the garbage. That’s got to be the reason for sure because no one could LIVE like that!

More seriously, I still don’t understand why Neanderthal women didn’t fish, which is way safer and more convenient than hunting. Few fish are dangerous, and none are smart.

Well, maybe they did, and that’ll be the next big revelation ….

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9 Responses to Darwinism and popular folklore: Neanderthal man died out on account of equal opportunity?

  1. LOL! Man talk about silly speculation.

  2. Here’s an evolution riddle: How did sex evolve in the first place?

  3. It just goes to show how ridiculous the Darwinites are. How can we know how they died? They’re dead. Not like any of us were there to see it.

    Bah. Next thing you know they’ll be telling us they have photographs of Neanderthals. Did you know that all the Neanderthal bones in the world would handily fit into a single coffin? We don’t know a damn thing about them.

  4. Ironically, if some great catastrophe were to take place and all the progress built up over time by civilization/language was stripped away the very people who write such things might wind up living in caves or making tools that look very primitive to civilized eyes and so on. Yet they would still be just as intelligent as they are now because happening to fit or not fit an iconic “cave man” image has very little evidential bearing on whether or not someone is intelligent. That is important to note because if humans are intelligent and capable of intelligent selections based on language which are not driven by natural selection then they cannot be reduced to natural selection and all speculations rooted in such a notion can be known to be false before one begins. If we are capable of intelligent selection then the only evolutionary scenarios one need be concerned with are those which can be observed to be typical to civilization throughout history, the progressions and progress typical to technology and so on.

    Unfortunately the Darwinian mind will not base itself in what can be observed because it has been trained to place its imagination above observation, naturally. If it can merely imagine progress based on naturalism, then it is so. If you question that, then such a mind concludes that you’re against the progress it has fused with its own philosophic naturalism based on imaginary sequences of “natural” progression.

  5. “Did you know that all the Neanderthal bones in the world would handily fit into a single coffin?”

    Are you serious? I had no idea there was so little evidence. If this is true how do they even know if a species called Neanderthal even existed? Couldn’t it have been a mutation (someone seriously deformed) and not a species at all?

    Tim

  6. The Neanderthal extinction some 30,000 years ago remains one of the great riddles of evolution…

    Statements such as this imply the other riddles are not so troubling. Riddles such as, amongst other things, the lack of either fossilized or conceptualized intergrading functional stages between complex systems. ‘Riddles’ that preclude evolution.

  7. Hi Denyse:

    Re: Few fish are dangerous, and none are smart.

    I couldn’t resist rising to this fly . . .

    Having tried to fool a few fish in my time, I ain’t so sure they ain’t smarter than the average fisher . . . er, . . . person.

    [Actually, according to Charlie Waterman, women in his observation are better at catching fish than men . . .]

    And the “few” that are dangerous may make up for a lot that aren’t.

    [I recall being very, very impressed with an unexpected 15 lb barracuda's dentition; not to mention the prospects of ciguatera, never mind the stories on how "sweet" Barra flesh is. And the pirahna of S America has been described as in effect a local equivalent of a minnow, with teeth. Razor sharp, scissoring-action, triangular teeth.]

    Signed: A too-often frustrated fisher — er — person.

    GEM of TKI

  8. Talk about fitness of survival? What so “fit” about bipedalism and walking or running on land, compared to climbing up and swinging among trees.

    Ape-to-man evolution does not make sense in terms of “fitness” for survival.

  9. MatthewTan [8]

    Here’s a quote from one of us guys here (can’t remember who, might be Atom or Joseph) regarding the issue you raise.

    Basically, reproduction interval length (between successive generations), robustness (ability of offspring to reach reproductive maturity) and fecundity (number of offspring per replication event) are the factors we’re examining.

    And unfortunately for Darwinism, in the real world, the simpler the organism, the better they do on all three counts (speaking generally).

    In the absense of information building mutations the best NS can do is to take generalizations and produce specializations, which will eventually go extinct through lack of generalization.

    In the presence of information building mutations NS would be selecting for increased robustness and fecundity, quite the opposite of the traditional evolutionary (molecules to man) pattern.

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