Lovers, Foes, or Friends?

So something we briefly touched on in class today has always made me very curious and I have never researched it or figured out the answer previously – but what better time to curb my curiosity than to research it and answer the question for my blog! My question is, How did sub species of hominoids live together? Think of life now, what if there were more advanced and slightly different looking “humans” walking around? We have enough issues with race, gender orientation, religion, and politics etc right now, but we are still all the same – human beings. I honestly think that if we had more advanced “humans” walking around earth, we would kill them because they would eventually take over the world and our future generation and species would die out. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Let’s review the changes in our ancestors that happened in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic period. There are several changes that occurred over all of the Homo species found in our reading assignment “The Origins of Homo sapiens sapiens”, but I’m just going to touch on the physical and cognitive ones (those would be the most threatening changes to our current population if there was about to be a new resolution of the human species). The cognitive changes are that brain size increased by 350 cm3. The main physical changes include smaller teeth, higher rounded skull, less robust skeleton, and a more prominent chin. The really cool thing about this evolutionary change is that it happened all over the world over time. We had H. erectus and then some archaeologist argue that the H. neanderthalensis or Neanderthals were the link between H. erectus and H. sapiens. There is much debate about this because Neanderthals weren’t on our ancestor’s cognitive level because they didn’t have the capacity for speech. The reading does mention that a Neanderthal would blend into society without attracting too much attention right now but there were some differences like a thick five foot stature with curved bones, large cheek bones, and larger front teeth (personally, I think I would notice if a Neanderthal was walking around MSU).


Now that we know the difference, did Neanderthals and our ancestors coexist? Professor Tom Higham and his team seem to think so. They obtained 200 samples (Spain to Russia) from Paleolithic sites, finding evidence of when Neanderthals died out and that they coexisted with our ancestors for about 5,400 years. Not only did they coexist, but also they mated. Curiously enough, most of us today can have up to 4% Neanderthal in our genetic make-up. The theory is that Neanderthals mated with the early Homo sapiens before they separated, scattered the globe and developed ethnic differences.

Unfortunately, I really wanted an in-depth, how did they live? Did they teach each other anything? It appears not. Homo sapiens have many unique behaviors. They learned how to hunt everything from large prey to fish. But taking a closer look at the tools Homo sapiens used, you will find that there is no overlap between our ancestor’s and the Neanderthal’s lithics.

Until I have a time machine and can view H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis interactions, I will never be satisfied!



Click to access ch04.pdf

One thought on “Lovers, Foes, or Friends?

  1. I think it’s interesting that we both were fascinated by the same questions and did similar research for our blog posts.

    I find myself fascinated by the minority of scholars who believe that Neanderthals are actually a sub-species of homo sapiens, homo sapiens neanderthalensis. It makes me wonder if that .12% genetic difference was actually bred away and they simply merged with homo sapiens, as one hypothesis I researched suggested.

    I have the feeling, though, that the real answer is that there was too little territory and too many smarter homo sapiens, and the Neanderthals ended in a series of bloody battles over the course of many years or decades. The most common war hypothesis said that it was those we classify as the Aurignacians who were actually responsible for wiping out the Neanderthals. If it really was a matter of battling over territory, then I would put my money on those with communication skills and tool-building to come out on top as champions.

    You said in your first paragraph that if we had a more advanced type of human walking around that we’d kill them for fear they’d take over, I have to disagree. That we’d try to kill them, I have no doubt, but a more sophisticated version of human beings would be very difficult to kill, I think. I don’t know what kind of superiority we would have over them in order to win. Do we have superior strength? They may have superior brain capacity and can out-think us in a tactical battle. If they have a higher brain function than us, then technology isn’t going to be an issue for them, and we would surely wind up losing this war. It puts me in mind of Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe—we’re screwed no matter what, I guess.

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