According to a recent message delivered Wednesday by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, modern-day Homo sapiens may resemble their most recent human relative, Homo neanderthalensis, more than they think. Although Homo neanderthalensis have long been established extinct, remnants of their genetic code still exist in the current Homo sapien genome. However, such information should not be received as an insult to our species. Human beings’ brooding ancestor may actually be more competent and inventive than history tends to give them credit for.
“We found no data in support of the supposed technological, social and cognitive inferiority of Neanderthals compared to their modern human contemporaries,” said Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at the Leiden University in the Netherlands, co-author of the study. The impression of a “club-wielding brute” has been outdated for a long time already, but many still consider the ancestor a sub par species to the “modern” human being. Regardless of the similarities in physical structures, the large-browed, stocky Neanderthal is often considered too different to be compared in generalities to the sleek Homo sapien. In a broad spectrum the cave-dwellers may have been more alike than not, especially with new evidence of their genes represented in the modern-day genome.
Of their competence, the Neanderthal race constructed complex hunting expeditions, which were community-based, pre-meditated and imparted as a group. There are such discoveries of neanderthals herding bison or other roaming animals to their deaths by rushing them into a sinkhole. Fossil remains of mammoths and woolly rhinos unearthed at the bottom of a ravine at a Channel Islands site are considered to be most likely an organized hunt by the ancient clans men. Of their industry, the species used different pigments for either body-painting or other means of functional marking, and they used symbolic animals remains, such as teeth and claws, for decorative and function materials. There was more than likely a form of spoken communication, and there was also the progressive use of fire. Genomic studies have also devised that neanderthals were accustomed to living in small groups, which survived in different areas, and other recent studies conclude the groups may have eaten a variety of agricultural yields, including wild olives and peas, pistachios, acorns, grass seeds, date palms, and pine nuts.
The presence of the Neanderthal race was mostly encapsulated across Europe and Asia some 350,000 to 40,000 years in the Earth’s past. Their disappearance seemingly occurred as early humans navigated north from Africa. It is not too far in the past that many scientists theorized Neanderthals were too dim-witted to survive the challenges that arrived with the advancement of the more competent humans invading their territories. However, new research concludes that it was not necessarily their intellect that kept them from continuing to prosper.
Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, concludes the real reasons for territorial extinction are far more complex, and part of the truth resides in evidences of inter-breeding. According to Villa, if and when male offspring resulted from cross-breeding, they were more than likely infertile. This fact would have a more resounding influence on the population’s decline. She added, it is possible the rest of the population assimilated into the encroaching, larger, modern population over the course of a few thousand years.
The process of assimilation may still be happening, because “in a certain sense, they are not completely extinct because some Neanderthal genes are present in our genome,” Villa stated, adding that evidence of cognitive inferiority proves not to be present. Many scientists and historians are still searching for a simple answer, descriptive answer to the decline of the Age of the Neanderthal, such as intelligence or sustainability inferiority, but the reports of the archaeology exhibit that such interpretations are unfounded.
By Stacy Feder