Friday, September 24, 2010

Good thinking

I'm getting drowsy so I'll make this short. It's good to take pride in your accomplishments. It's less than good to feed your ego by putting others down.

Our species has the habit of doing the latter. Even the Neanderthals--and I've mentioned this before--have until recently been thought of as half-bright pack animals incapable of language, innovation, and most forms of abstract thought.

The Stone Age did see Neanderthal society advance to a relatively high level, especially in the Châtelperronian era, but scientists have generally put that down to the influence of moder homo sapiens.

But new evidence calls that into question, as seen here.

About 42,000 years ago, the Aurignacian culture, attributed to modern Homo sapiens, appeared in northern Italy while central Italy continued to be occupied by Neanderthals of the Mousterian culture which had been around for at least 100,000 years. At this time a new culture arose in the south, one also thought to be created by Neanderthals. They were the Uluzzian and they were very different.

Riel-Salvatore identified projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting at Uluzzian archeological sites throughout southern Italy. Such innovations are not traditionally associated with Neanderthals, strongly suggesting that they evolved independently, possibly due to dramatic changes in climate. More importantly, they emerged in an area geographically separated from modern humans.

Cavemen are doing it for themselves. Cool.


susan said...

I've always thought how fascinating it is that we came so close to having a sibling race on the planet. Nobody seems to know why the Neanderthals died out but a warmer climate and new disease vectors may have done it. What remains interesting is that little item about a 4% shared genome with homo-sap-saps. It may be our brother race is closer than I'd imagined.

Ben said...

I've thought about having a sibling species too. It seems pretty clear to me that if they were still around, they would have some form of culture. So what would the cultural differences be between them and us? Where would we overlap? How would we get along. These are open questions, if hypothetical

susan said...

I came across an interesting article today about a new theory that major volcanic eruptions 40,000 years ago likely wiped out most of the Neanderthals.