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What do you think happened to the Neanderthals?



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭ recedite

    could cover more ground per day
    You mean when out hunting?
    The most successful predators employ teamwork. The most potent team I could imagine,for hunting large prey, for the times, would be organised by HSS, with wolf-dogs tracking prey by scent, Homo species using sight. Closer to the actual kill, faster running HSS circles around the prey, forcing it towards a cliff or river, then sends in a few neandertal gladiators to kill the beast with close range spear thrusts. Once the big herds were gone, it would be very difficult for neandertals to survive using more traditional ambush techniques.

    If a few neandertals were "retained" by HSS for specialist work, such as tracking or killing or whatever, it might explain a certain amount of inbreeding, even if the two subspecies were generally at war with each other.

    This kind of thing we can't get from bone marrow. For example the fossil record could place both in the same area at roughly the same time, but we don't actually know how, or even whether they interacted much together.
    On the other hand, maybe they got on really well with each other on a platonic level, but just didn't interbreed that much.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,760 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    You can take the marrow out of bones to get new information from DNA.
    yea but only in horrendously rare cases and such cases may well not be, indeed probably aren't "average".
    In my opinion the genetic evidence is consistent with assimilation of Neanderthals into a population that could cover more ground per day and needed less food to live.
    Not in Europe it's not. The Neandertal DNA so far discovered in modern humans came from Levantine Neandertal/Sapien jiggy jiggy, not European Neandertals*. In the Levant they shared the area for a very long time. They used a near identical toolkit and likely hunting methods. While the ranges of Sapiens were wider, it was for tool resources, not so much food and even then the majority of tool resource material was just as local as the Neandertals.

    Now we get onto the "they needed more food" angle. One I would put much store in myself, but thinking on this further I'm starting to question some aspects of it. Numero uno, while individual Sapiens would require less food, the usually larger groups of Sapiens would even that out. Wherever we go soon after megafauna extinctions tend to occur. This didn't happen with Neandertals, even with their higher calorie need. So IMHO the calorie difference doesnt quite pan out as much as it may appear. Food sources? Neandertals had much wider food ranges that was previously thought. Only recently it's been found they processed grains before we did. Some examples of long hand axes/bifaces show extensive digging wear so were likely used for digging seasonal tubers(and show up in preserved ecosystems where such tubers would be common). Adaptation to novel foods? Again Neandertals show such adaptations. A good example being the southern Italian group who faced with less megafauna sources switched to a diet very similar to Sapiens. Ditto for the ones in southern Spain who started to hunt/eat much more marine food sources inc seals and dolphins. It would be my revised take that the food angle as a cause, or even a small influence on their extinction has to be somewhat reduced if not discarded at times.
    recedite wrote:
    Perhaps the reason neandertals and HSS seemed happier to co-exist in the middle east than in Europe was cultural, those in the levant were simply accustomed to each other. In contrast, the HSS arriving in more northern areas took on the role of invaders, and thus the xenophobic instinct was stimulated, on both sides.
    I reckon this more than anything is what happened. And would neatly explain the lack of European Neandertal DNA in moderns.

    *Personally I'd put money the two Neandertal populations were different in culture, maybe even slightly different in appearance. The European stock appear to be more robust overall, with bigger brow ridges.

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