Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weekly Topic Blog, Analysis of Possible Reasons why Neanderthals went Extinct

Ever since the first Neanderthal skulls was discovered in 1829, 1848, and 1856 followed by the classification of Neanderthals of a separate species by geologist William King in 1863, we have had to relook at our data and bias about how exactly this species of human lived. We initially thought species wad dumb compared to us and caveman like. It was not able to speak, and could not do much more than make fire. We now know they were actually a stronger, larger brained, and perhaps just as intelligent or more subspecies of us who had speech, some form of culture, and tools that were almost if not just as good as the ones made by modern our ancestors in Africa at the time.

One has to wonder, why did they die off and we didn’t? There are many proposed theories, combining one or a few of many possible reasons. Among the reasons proposed include war amongst themselves, war with us, cannibalism, disease, gender roles, running out of food, not good enough tools, change of weather, interbred and absorbed into our population, transformed into us, rapid extinction, gradual extinction, and being unable to adapt to new hunting methods. Over the last forty or so years, mounts of data and evidence has been found that support some of these reasons over others. Each week I will look at each of these possible reasons for the cause of their extinction, going over evidence or arguments for or against these reasons that has been made. Comments of suggestions, data, and others reasons I have not found are very welcome so that I can better blog about the reasons for their extinction. After exhausting almost all possible reasons, I will weekly blog about which combination these reasons seem to be more likely and fit together. Eventually I will try to either develop a theory or agree with some anthropologists’ theory based on the conclusions and the feedback I get from everyone who comments.


Gloomyspoon said...

I don't recall where, but I read that one primary difference between the two species was that homo-sapiens were more capable of abstract thought which manifested itself in things like art and jewelery. The article posited that the jewelery found amongst the neanderthals was not an original construct, but rather a response to similar artifacts seen first on homo-sapiens. Further, things like tool development and refinement were ideas wholly lost on the neanderthals, and any developments that were made were again, more emulation than true understanding. This is an interesting topic to be sure-and an important one at that. No doubt there lie answers to some evolutionary questions regarding our own development in the remains of long deceased cousins.

Gloomyspoon said...

our long deceased cousins.

Nate said...

We just are not sure. While at one time we thought that we had better tools than them, this may not be particularly true since the Neanderthal tools may have suited the stronger Neanderthal while ours suited our physique better. As far as we know, we are the only species to make cave art, Neanderthals did have some form of jewelry. But there are many reasons that Neanderthals did not get a chance to get into this stuff. For example, If they spent all of their time hungry and looking for food, their not going have a reason to make art. A person needs a lot of free time to get creative