Monday, August 03, 2009

Sapien's Cain to Neanderthal's Abel?

NOTE: Still out on vacay, but leaving some timed posts behind so people (all two of you) who stop on by have something to read.

It's being hypothesized that Shanidar 3, the skeleton of a Neanderthal, was felled by a weapon fabricated by a Homo sapien. An article on MSNBC can be found here.
"What we've got is a rib injury, with any number of scenarios that could explain it," said study researcher Steven Churchill, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina. "We're not suggesting there was a blitzkrieg, with modern humans marching across the land and executing the Neandertals [a.k.a. Neanderthals]. I want to say that loud and clear."

But he added, "We think the best explanation for this injury is a projectile weapon, and given who had those and who didn't, that implies at least one act of inter-species aggression."
So who did have those weapons? Homo sapiens, as you could have guessed by the title to this blog entry.
As for the spear, since modern humans had developed projectile hunting weapons and Neanderthals hadn't, the researchers deduced the probable suspect — a modern human.
So, we were killers from the very get-go it seems. It also appears that the Neanderthal population in Europe was extremely small, averaging about 3,500 females. So competition with Homo sapiens would have been extremely difficult. Then again, perhaps they were not forced out/killed off, but instead just mingled into the dominant Homo sapien population. There, their genetic material was incorporated and diluted out over time.

h/t: The History Blog


livius said...

Oh man, I am so jealous of your title. Damn your witty eyes!

Thomas Joseph said...

Heh, thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!