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What is the difference between a human being, a Homo sapiens, and a Neanderthal?

What is the difference between a human being, a Homo sapiens, and a Neanderthal?


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I know that the Neanderthals were part of the genus Homo. How do they relate to other members of the genus, such as Homo sapiens?


Homo sapiens / Homo sapiens sapiens

Human being, in the popular culture generally refers to modern humans, called either Homo sapiens or Homo sapiens sapiens. The existence of the two names will make sense when talking about the Neanderthals. In the term Homo sapiens, Homo indicates the genus and sapiens indicates the species. In the term Homo sapiens sapiens, the second sapiens refers to the subspecies.

Homo neanderthalis / Homo sapiens neanderthalis

Neanderthals (or Neandertals) is sometimes referred to as a species in the same genus (Homo) as H. sapiens and sometimes as a subspecies of H. sapiens. When considered as a different species then, they are called Homo neanderthalensis. When Neanderthals are considered as the same species as H. sapiens but different subspecies, then they are called Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and modern humans are then called Homo sapiens sapiens.

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Age of the Wise Men: What Distinguishes Homo Sapiens from the Other Great Apes?

Homo sapiens represents the last of a long line of hominin races that once consisted of five different species spanning four continents. Today, we are the last humans, that is, the last of the genus Homo. Our closest living relatives are chimpanzees and gorillas. We, however, stand out in many ways from them. We have unparalleled capacities for abstract thought, language skills, and social cohesion. Over the decades, scientists have found that many of these human abilities are shared by other great apes, though to less impressive degrees. This leads to a question. What makes Homo Sapiens different from other ape species? Current research suggests that the difference between humans and other great apes is more one of degree than one of kind. Other animals, including great apes and dolphins, have capacities for abstract thought and language skills but these abilities are especially pronounced in Homo Sapiens. The areas in which we excel compared to other great apes include material culture production, social learning, altruism, and language skills.


This is the most important difference between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals

The key difference between human beings and Neanderthals is how we consume and expend energy. It goes a long way toward explaining why we survived to the modern era while our — literal — kissing cousins died out.

That’s one of the interesting takeaways from a long article by Vox’s Brain Resnick exploring the inter-species sex lives of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.

(Every living person not of exclusively African descent has some Neanderthal ancestry. It appears Neanderthals never made it to Africa.)

Resnick spoke to Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University. Here’s the bit of their conversation that stuck out to me:

“They probably needed about another 600 or 700 calories a day more than a modern human” to feed their hardier bodies, [Wood] explains — great in times of plenty but catastrophic in a famine. They were the gas-guzzling pickup truck of the hominids. We were the smart car.

That goes a ways toward explaining why our species of human out-competed Neanderthals, even as we mated with them.

It’s unclear how smart or social Neanderthals were, but we know they never formed the kinds of large, aggressive bands that Homo sapiens did. They were squatter than us, and bulkier, with wide bones and short foreheads. We also know their numbers dwindled, and then they disappeared around 40,000 years ago.

Wood’s suggestion, that Neanderthals were simply not energy-efficient enough to survive periods of scarcity, is compelling. (Still, as he points out later, Neanderthals managed to survive for a million years, far longer than we have so far.)

To be clear: Wood doesn’t claim that this difference in caloric need is the complete explanation for Neanderthals’ demise, but he does conjure an intriguing image — a species that simply requires more resources than the world could always offer.


Differences in Human and Neanderthal Brains Explain Human Exceptionalism

When I was a little kid, my mom went through an Agatha Christie phase. She was a huge fan of the murder mystery writer and she read all of Christie’s books.

Agatha Christie was caught up in a real-life mystery of her own when she disappeared for 10 days in December 1926 under highly suspicious circumstances. Her car was found near her home, close to the edge of a cliff. But, she was nowhere to be found. It looked as if she disappeared without a trace, without any explanation. Eleven days after her disappearance, she turned up in a hotel room registered under an alias.

Christie never offered an explanation for her disappearance. To this day, it remains an enduring mystery. Some think it was a callous publicity stunt. Some say she suffered a nervous breakdown. Others think she suffered from amnesia. Some people suggest more sinister reasons. Perhaps, she was suicidal. Or maybe she was trying to frame her husband and his mistress for her murder.

Perhaps we will never know.

Like Christie’s fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, paleoanthropologists are every bit as eager to solve a mysterious disappearance of their own. They want to know why Neanderthals vanished from the face of the earth. And what role did human beings (Homo sapiens) play in the Neanderthal disappearance, if any? Did we kill off these creatures? Did we outcompete them or did Neanderthals just die off on their own?

Anthropologists have proposed various scenarios to account for the Neanderthals’ disappearance. Some paleoanthropologists think that differences in the cognitive capabilities of modern humans and Neanderthals help explain the creatures’ extinction. According to this model, superior reasoning abilities allowed humans to thrive while Neanderthals faced inevitable extinction. As a consequence, we replaced Neanderthals in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia when we first migrated to these parts of the world.

Computational Neuroanatomy

Innovative work by researchers from Japan offers support for this scenario. 1 Using a technique called computational neuroanatomy, researchers reconstructed the brain shape of Neanderthals and modern humans from the fossil record. In their study, the researchers used four Neanderthal specimens:

  • Amud 1 (50,000 to 70,000 years in age)
  • La Chapelle-aux Saints 1 (47,000 to 56,000 years in age)
  • La Ferrassie 1 (43,000 to 45,000 years in age)
  • Forbes’ Quarry 1 (no age dates)

They also worked with four Homo sapiens specimens:

  • Qafzeh 9 (90,000 to 120,000 years in age)
  • Skhūl 5 (100,000 to 135,000 years in age
  • Mladeč 1 (35,000 years in age)
  • Cro-Magnon 1 (32,000 years in age)

Researchers used computed tomography scans to construct virtual endocasts (cranial cavity casts) of the fossil brains. After generating endocasts, the team determined the 3D brain structure of the fossil specimens by deforming the 3D structure of the average human brain so that it fit into the fossil crania and conformed to the endocasts.

This technique appears to be valid, based on control studies carried out on chimpanzee and bonobo brains. Using computational neuroanatomy, researchers can deform a chimpanzee brain to accurately yield the bonobo brain, and vice versa.

Brain Differences, Cognitive Differences

The Japanese team learned that the chief difference between human and Neanderthal brains is the size and shape of the cerebellum. The cerebellar hemisphere is projected more toward the interior in the human brain than in the Neanderthal brain and the volume of the human cerebellum is larger. Researchers also noticed that the right side of the Neanderthal cerebellum is significantly smaller than the left side—a phenomenon called volumetric laterality. This discrepancy doesn’t exist in the human brain. Finally, the Japanese researchers observed that the parietal regions in the human brain were larger than those regions in Neanderthals’ brains.

Because of these brain differences, the researchers argue that humans were socially and cognitively more sophisticated than Neanderthals. Neuroscientists have discovered that the cerebellum helps motor functions and higher cognition by contributing to language function, working memory, thought, and social abilities. Hence, the researchers argue that the reduced size of the right cerebellar hemisphere in Neanderthals limits the connection to the prefrontal regions—a connection critical for language processing. Neuroscientists have also discovered that the parietal lobe plays a role in visuo-spatial imagery, episodic memory, self-related mental representations, coordination between self and external spaces, and sense of agency.

On the basis of this study, it seems that humans either outcompeted Neanderthals for limited resources—driving them to extinction—or simply were better suited to survive than Neanderthals because of superior mental capabilities. Or perhaps their demise occurred for more sinister reasons. Maybe we used our sophisticated reasoning skills to kill off these creatures.

Did Neanderthals Make Art, Music, Jewelry, etc.?

Recently, a flurry of reports has appeared in the scientific literature claiming that Neanderthals possessed the capacity for language and the ability to make art, music, and jewelry. Other studies claim that Neanderthals ritualistically buried their dead, mastered fire, and used plants medicinally. All of these claims rest on highly speculative interpretations of the archaeological record. In fact, other studies present evidence that refutes every one of these claims (see Resources).

Comparisons of human and Neanderthal brain morphology and size become increasingly important in the midst of this controversy. This recent study—along with previous work (go here and here)—indicates that Neanderthals did not have the brain architecture and, hence, cognitive capacity to communicate symbolically through language, art, music, and body ornamentation. Nor did they have the brain capacity to engage in complex social interactions. In short, Neanderthal brain anatomy does not support any interpretation of the archaeological record that attributes advanced cognitive abilities to these creatures.

While this study provides important clues about the disappearance of Neanderthals, we still don’t know why they went extinct. Nor do we know any of the mysterious details surrounding their demise as a species.

Perhaps we will never know.

But we do know that in terms of our cognitive and social capacities, human beings stand apart from Neanderthals and all other creatures. Human brain biology and behavior render us exceptional, one-of-a-kind, in ways consistent with the image of God.


[Biology] What were the differences between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals?

If we had 99.9% similar DNA, and similar social structures, what was the difference that gave them a different classification of species?

Morphologically speaking, they had broader chests, thicker/stronger bones, heavy duty jaws and teeth, and a slightly larger cranial capacity. It has also been inferred that the arrangement of their larynx would have made their speech markedly different. That being said, many today consider us to both be subspecies(homo sapiens sapiens Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) not completely different species, hence the significant genetic contribution by Neanderthals to non-sub-Saharan populations.

Neanderthals had larger brains & were more robust than H sapiens but what traits made the species (or sub species) less fit to survive?

So basically they were like super humans?

Despite the fact that there is some contribution from Neanderthals to modern human DNA, it appears that the rates of crossover were either low, or most hybrids were sterile.

For instance,the lack of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA in modern Europeans indicates that there can't have been many (if any) successful female Neanderthal-male human crosses or lineages. cite. Crosses in the other direction may account for the neanderthal DNA in humans, but there were problems there, and Neanderthal genes expressed in the testes are heavily selected against in modern humans. which indicates that they may have been causing some sort of infertility or lowered fertility cite.

The interbreeding may have also been confined to when humans were first moving out into the middle east. This matches some DNA evidence and seems to explain why both Asians and Europeans have Neanderthal DNA, despite Asians moving away from Neanderthal populations and Europeans moving toward more populations. Anyway, Europeans don't seem to have picked up a whole lot more Neanderthal DNA while in Europe. cite.

I can't find the citation for it, but I read a paper which suggested that crossbreeding events on the order of a single cross every decade or two could have caused the genetic signal we see today.

So all in all, the genetic evidence suggests to me (as someone who doesn't study this directly) that humans and neanderthals probably didn't interbreed regularly, or at least faced some amount of hybrid inviability--or else a whole lot more Neanderthal DNA would have made it into the human population. Which makes me think that maybe they should be considered separate species after all. After all, occasional fertile hybrids aren't that uncommon between things we consider separate species.


Sex, disease, and extinction: what ancient DNA tells us about humans and Neanderthals

Two new genetic analyses help explain the unexpected roles Neanderthals play in modern human life — influencing everything from hair color to mental health. The new research also adds to evidence that Neanderthals lived in small, isolated communities, while a third study suggests that early modern humans may have developed large social networks that facilitated the exchange of mates and ideas.

The findings help explain what exactly Neanderthal DNA is doing in many modern human genomes, and how it affects our health. Piecing together the sex lives of our human ancestors may also help us understand how and when these genes were exchanged. All together, the three studies — published in various journals last week — contribute key clues to the mystery of why humans survived to populate the globe, even as our close cousins, the Neanderthals, died out.

Modern humans, or Homo sapiens, and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor roughly half a million years ago. They then split and evolved in parallel: humans in Africa, and Neanderthals on the Eurasian continent. When humans finally ventured to Eurasia, they had sex with Neanderthals, swapping DNA around. Today, people who aren’t of African descent owe roughly 2 percent of their DNA to their Neanderthal ancestors. “The first question that anyone ever asks is ‘Well, what does it do?’” says Janet Kelso, a bioinformatician who studies genome evolution at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Previous studies have linked Neanderthal DNA to a big range of health conditions in modern-day people, including depression, nicotine addiction, and skin disorders. But it’s not all bad: understanding which stretches of Neanderthal DNA stuck around might also help scientists tease apart which traits might have helped ancient humans survive in Eurasia, like changes to skin and hair, or resistance to certain diseases.

There’s also another mystery to solve: Neanderthals went extinct about 40,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens did not. Why? There are a lot of theories, including that alliances between modern humans and dogs helped humans hunt food better, essentially starving Neanderthals out of Europe. Or, humans might have reproduced faster than Neanderthals, multiplying and edging them out. “It’s still one of those unsolved and really interesting questions,” says Martin Sikora, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen. “Were we more successful because we had better technology, or was it just a consequence of pure numbers?”

To piece the story together, scientists are searching for more Neanderthal genomes locked in ancient bones, and for more Neanderthal DNA hiding in present-day genomes. The studies published last week have uncovered both.

A new ancient Neanderthal genome

The first study, published in Science, describes a bone fragment called Vindija 33.19, which was found in a Croatian cave of the same name in the 1980s. Now, researchers have finally been able to sequence the DNA locked inside, discovering it belonged to a female Neanderthal who lived 52,000 years ago. Researchers found that the Vindija Neanderthal was very similar genetically to another Neanderthal who died about 122,000 years ago in the Altai mountains of Siberia (dubbed the Altai Neanderthal).

The fact that two Neanderthals separated by more than 3,700 miles and 70,000 years were so similar suggests that Neanderthal communities were tiny, with very little genetic diversity. “It’s quite amazing when you think about it,” says study author Kay Pruefer, at the Max Planck Institute. “They are really so closely related that you cannot find any two people on this planet that are this close.” That could support the theory that Neanderthals’ low genetic diversity may have contributed to their extinction.

Genetic diversity forms the basis for natural selection. If everyone in a population had the exact same versions of the same genes, then one plague or one hard winter could wipe everyone out. And then there’d be no survivors to pass on the genes that would give their offspring a chance to survive the next plague or harsh winter. Incest can also lead to genetic abnormalities: the Altai Neanderthal was the daughter of two half-siblings, and while the Vindija Neanderthal’s parents weren’t related, they were very, very genetically similar.

The newly sequenced Vindija genome is important for another reason: because Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans are thought to have interbred roughly 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, the Vindija genome is a closer match to the Neanderthal DNA still found in modern human genomes today. “That gives us more power, a greater ability to detect Neanderthal DNA that remains in modern humans,” says John (Tony) Capra, an evolutionary genomicist at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the research.

A Neanderthal toe bone discovered in the Denisova cave in Siberia’s Altai mountains. Photo by Bence Viola

Thanks to the Vindija genome, the researchers tracked down Neanderthal DNA in genes that make certain modern-day humans more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. Neanderthal mutations also turned up in genes that influence how people respond to antipsychotic drugs, their levels of “bad” cholesterol and Vitamin D, and how much fat they pack around their middles.

Of course, it’s too simplistic for people to attribute their cholesterol levels to their Neanderthal DNA. “Even though Neanderthal DNA influences these traits, the overall influence on any given person’s risk is really quite low,” Capra says. Still, Neanderthals have gone extinct, and this DNA was swapped tens of thousands of years ago — yet it still has a measurable effect on modern humans.

New traits linked to Neanderthal DNA

In the second study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers compared the genome of the 122,000-year-old Altai Neanderthal to that of more than 100,000 present-day people. (The 100,000 people, part of the UK Biobank, also had to answer questions about their moods, personality, and food preferences.)

The researchers found that Neanderthal DNA was especially common in stretches of genes that contribute to hair color and skin tone. Some Neanderthal variations were associated with blonder, paler complexions, and others were with darker pigmentation. That could mean that Neanderthals themselves had different hair and skin colors. The one hair color Neanderthals almost certainly didn’t have (or had very rarely) was red hair, the researchers found — contrary to popular depictions of our extinct relatives. The Neanderthal DNA also influenced psychological and neurological traits — like being a night owl, reporting feelings of loneliness and depression, and smoking.

These results don’t mean that Neanderthal genetic mutations cause these traits in modern-day humans, or that the same genetic variations gave rise to the same traits in Neanderthals, says study author Janet Kelso, at the Max Planck Institute. For example, while mutations introduced by Neanderthal DNA might be linked with an increased likelihood that a person might smoke, it doesn’t mean that our extinct relatives had a cigarette habit.

Late Stone Age people avoided incest

Early modern humans weren’t just having sex with Neanderthals, of course. They were also banging each other. A third study published last week, also in Science, suggests that ancient humans lived in large, complex social networks that helped them swap genes and ideas.

Sikora, at the University of Denmark, analyzed the DNA of one man, two children, and a hollowed-out thigh bone, all buried at a late Stone Age site called Sunghir, in Russia, some 34,000 years ago. The man was buried by himself, but the children were buried together head-to-head, with the hollowed-out thigh bone placed next to their bodies.

Upper paleolithic Sunghir burial decorated with ivory beads. Photo by José-Manuel Benito Álvarez

Sikora found that none of the individuals at the site were related and, what’s more, they were shockingly genetically diverse — far more so than the two Neanderthals analyzed in the other studies. “The two kids buried head-to-head in the same grave, you’d assume there was some sort of close relationship,” Sikora says. But their genes revealed they were, at most, second cousins.

The Sunghir burials gave Sikora a chance to test his hypothesis that early humans developed a form of social structure that allowed early modern humans to swap partners and genes. That, in turn, would have allowed them to be more genetically diverse, and possibly more successful. One of the children at the Sunghir site had clearly suffered some sort of developmental disorder: his thigh bones were bent and twisted, possibly the result of a genetic abnormality.

That seemed to suggest that, maybe, the kid’s parents were related, since incest often causes abnormalities. But when Sikora sequenced the bones’ DNA, he found that the four individuals were not remotely inbred. In fact, their genomes showed the same, or even more, genetic diversity than present-day populations of hunter-gatherers in Africa and Amazonia.

Sikora’s team calculated that about 300 people would need to be having sex with each other to produce so much genetic variation. That’s a much bigger population than these Stone Age people were probably traveling with, Sikora says. But it is possible that smaller groups were embedded in a larger social network where people had sex and exchanged ideas. This would have kept people from becoming as inbred as the Altai Neanderthal, or as genetically homogenous as the Vindija Neanderthal, which was the consequence of living in isolated groups.

The distribution of cultural artifacts and tools across Eurasia backs that up, says Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University, St. Louis who wrote a book on the Sunghir burials. “During this time period, people were covering huge distances. It’s not unusual to find materials 300 or 400 kilometers away from where they came from,” Trinkaus says.

Of course, we can’t generalize about all hunter-gatherers at the time from this one population in Sunghir, says Bastien Llamas, a research fellow specializing in ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide in Australia, in an email to The Verge. It’s possible that the adult and the thigh bone were separated from the children by generations, meaning that this cluster of burials isn’t a fair indicator of the community’s diversity. Still, the results suggest that hunter-gatherer groups 34,000 years ago had pretty similar social networks to us today: limited family relationships within a group, avoiding incest, and mating outside that group. “I find it amazing,” Llamas says.

The study, like the others published last week, are steps toward understanding the complex relationships that made us who were are today. “Understanding our past, especially our genetic past, is super useful for understanding our genetic present,” says Joshua Schraiber, a population geneticist at Temple University. “I think it’s important to understand and embrace the diversity of humans across the planet.”

Correction: The original post included an incorrect affiliation for Martin Sikora. He is a professor at the University of Copenhagen. The post has been updated.


Neanderthals vs. Homo sapiens: Inside the 100,000-year-long battle for supremacy

The archaeological record confirms Neanderthal lives were anything but peaceful.

Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us. The other struck out overland, into Asia, then Europe, becoming Homo neanderthalensis – the Neanderthals. They weren’t our ancestors, but a sister species, evolving in parallel.

Neanderthals fascinate us because of what they tell us about ourselves – who we were, and who we might have become. It’s tempting to see them in idyllic terms, living peacefully with nature and each other, like Adam and Eve in the Garden. If so, maybe humanity’s ills – especially our territoriality, violence, wars – aren’t innate, but modern inventions.

Biology and paleontology paint a darker picture. Far from peaceful, Neanderthals were likely skilled fighters and dangerous warriors, rivaled only by modern humans.

Top predators

Predatory land mammals are territorial, especially pack-hunters. Like lions, wolves, and Homo sapiens, Neanderthals were cooperative big-game hunters. These predators, sitting atop the food chain, have few predators of their own, so overpopulation drives conflict over hunting grounds. Neanderthals faced the same problem if other species didn’t control their numbers, the conflict would have.

This territoriality has deep roots in humans. Territorial conflicts are also intense in our closest relatives, chimpanzees. Male chimps routinely gang up to attack and kill males from rival bands, a behavior strikingly like human warfare. This implies that cooperative aggression evolved in the common ancestor of chimps and ourselves, 7 million years ago. If so, Neanderthals will have inherited these same tendencies towards cooperative aggression.

All too human

Warfare is an intrinsic part of being human. War isn’t a modern invention, but an ancient, fundamental part of our humanity. Historically, all peoples warred. Our oldest writings are filled with war stories. Archaeology reveals ancient fortresses and battles, and sites of prehistoric massacres going back millennia.

To war is human – and Neanderthals were very like us. We’re remarkably similar in our skull and skeletal anatomy, and share 99.7% of our DNA. Behaviourally, Neanderthals were astonishingly like us. They made a fire, buried their dead, fashioned jewelry from seashells and animal teeth, made artwork and stone shrines. If Neanderthals shared so many of our creative instincts, they probably shared many of our destructive instincts, too.

Violent lives

The archaeological record confirms Neanderthal lives were anything but peaceful.

Neanderthalensis were skilled big game hunters, using spears to take down deer, ibex, elk, bison, even rhinos and mammoths. It defies belief to think they would have hesitated to use these weapons if their families and lands were threatened. Archaeology suggests such conflicts were commonplace.

Prehistoric warfare leaves telltale signs. A club to the head is an efficient way to kill – clubs are fast, powerful, precise weapons – so prehistoric Homo sapiens frequently show trauma to the skull. So too do Neanderthals.

Another sign of warfare is the parry fracture, a break to the lower arm caused by warding off blows. Neanderthals also show a lot of broken arms. At least one Neanderthal, from Shanidar Cave in Iraq, was impaled by a spear to the chest. Trauma was especially common in young Neanderthal males, as were deaths. Some injuries could have been sustained in hunting, but the patterns match those predicted for a people engaged in intertribal warfare- small-scale but intense, prolonged conflict, wars dominated by guerrilla-style raids and ambushes, with rarer battles.

The Neanderthal resistance

War leaves a subtler mark in the form of territorial boundaries. The best evidence that Neanderthals not only fought but excelled at war, is that they met us and weren’t immediately overrun. Instead, for around 100,000 years, Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion.

Why else would we take so long to leave Africa? Not because the environment was hostile but because Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe and Asia.

It’s exceedingly unlikely that modern humans met the Neanderthals and decided to just live and let live. If nothing else, population growth inevitably forces humans to acquire more land, to ensure sufficient territory to hunt and forage food for their children. But an aggressive military strategy is also a good evolutionary strategy.

Instead, for thousands of years, we must have tested their fighters, and for thousands of years, we kept losing. In weapons, tactics, strategy, we were fairly evenly matched.

Neanderthals probably had tactical and strategic advantages. They’d occupied the Middle East for millennia, doubtless gaining intimate knowledge of the terrain, the seasons, how to live off the native plants and animals. In battle, their massive, muscular builds must have made them devastating fighters in close-quarters combat. Their huge eyes likely gave Neanderthals superior low-light vision, letting them maneuver in the dark for ambushes and dawn raids.

Sapiens victorious

Finally, the stalemate broke, and the tide shifted. We don’t know why. It’s possible the invention of superior ranged weapons – bows, spear-throwers, throwing clubs – let lightly-built Homo sapiens harass the stocky Neanderthals from a distance using hit-and-run tactics. Or perhaps better hunting and gathering techniques let sapiens feed bigger tribes, creating numerical superiority in battle.

Even after primitive Homo sapiens broke out of Africa 200,000 years ago, it took over 150,000 years to conquer Neanderthal lands. In Israel and Greece, archaic Homo sapiens took ground only to fall back against Neanderthal counteroffensives, before a final offensive by modern Homo sapiens, starting 125,000 years ago, eliminated them.

This wasn’t a blitzkrieg, as one would expect if Neanderthals were either pacifists or inferior warriors, but a long war of attrition. Ultimately, we won. But this wasn’t because they were less inclined to fight. In the end, we likely just became better at war than they were.


Homo sapiens vs Homo neanderthalensis

About 2.4 million years ago, human life first bloomed in East Africa. Then, approximately 2 million years ago, the travel bug in archaic humans kicked in, and they traveled across Eurasia. Some ventured north, towards the continent we now know as Europe, while others traveled east, to what is now called Asia. Depending on the environmental conditions they faced, these humans evolved differently.

Archaic humans answered the call of the mountains and set in motion the emergence of different human species.

For example, the humans who traveled to East Asia developed a more upright posture (Homo erectus). The ones stuck on the island of Flores (Homo floresiensis) underwent dwarfing to adapt to the environmental conditions found there. Neanderthals, the closest of our human cousins and the residents of the Neander Valley, also adapted to survive in the cold conditions of Europe.

Neanderthals developed a more robust build with shorter limbs, as compared to Sapiens. These features are believed to have helped them conserve body heat in the cold conditions of Europe. They also had a slightly bigger forehead. The chin and forehead sloped steeply, with the nose protruding much farther than it does in modern humans. Neanderthals also enjoyed a larger brain than Sapiens.

While human life spread across the globe, humans also continued to evolve in their birthplace of East Africa. East Africa was once home to Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster, and eventually us, Homo sapiens. We didn&rsquot stay there for long, though. About 70,000 &ndash 80,000 years ago, archaic Homo sapiens moved out of east Africa and traveled to other parts of Eurasia, which were already occupied by other human species. What followed was the total takeover by Homo sapiens and the extinction of other human species.


Comments

The second law of thermodynamics applies to closed systems. The earth, with its energetic sustenance from the sun, is an open system.

“Why, despite the best efforts of the medical establishment, is the incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease still on the rise? If the race is evolving, why aren't our bodies gaining resistance to these ills? Is modern man really an improvement over our ancestors?”

Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are not damning indications of genetic corruption, but of the encroachment of toxic influences into the modern lifestyle. Further, the medical establishment, with its focus on symptom management rather than disease prevention, has been exacerbating the situation tremendously rather than honestly addressing it. While this does speak to the current state of society, it does not imply a problem with human genetics. We do continue to form a generational resistance to the health conditions against which antibodies are effective. Also, more and more research is becoming available, for those who care to find it, about how to strengthen the immune system (and the body in general) through proper nutrition. Trying to solve our epidemics with better drugs and/or genetic tampering is completely insane when undertaken within the same paradigm responsible for producing the mess to begin with.

All of that being said, the human genome has undergone very little change for the past 150,000+ years.

It has been proposed by well-respected scientists that mankind evolved from more primitive forms to survive from generation to generation, gaining positive changes to our genetic inheritance and losing the "recessive" traits until we all embody the best properties of "modern man". The implications of these claims seem to deny the action of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder. All around us, we can observe that metallic objects will tend to rust or corrode when left exposed to the elements. We see that the influence of bacteria tends to spoil food (and US!). We observe that a river erodes its banks in the course of its movement towards the ocean. Why, despite the best efforts of the medical establishment, is the incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease still on the rise? If the race is evolving, why aren't our bodies gaining resistance to these ills? Is modern man really an improvement over our ancestors?

Are we supposed to believe that simple existence is enough to improve the nature of man? Can we just let nature take its course and expect improvements in the human race without seeking a more certain path to perfection?

If evolution actually exists, I have not yet been convinced.

the "differences" between Neanderthals and homo sapiens (and just typing those classifications pains me as they are erroneous and misguided) mentioned in the article, such as short or bow legs, heavier brow, more robust or muscular physique, are all features that are easily and rather commonly found in what is called "anatomically modern humans," making the already minuscule genetic "difference" smaller still. In fact, the less than 1% genetic difference is readily explained by the process of evolution itself. What has been called Neanderthals are simply early or ancient Eurasians, plain and simple.

it is not ego, Guillaume, but a drive to learn and understand the things around us. this is why whenever i say, "i don't know," i try to find the right answer. Science gives us a process of learning, and that is where we are right now. science could eventually be wrong about the neanderthals or perhaps be right. for some, science is a way to arrive at answers. others may use different methods or even a combination. i am sure you visit this site because you also want answers. what paradigm do you suppose will be helpful?

My line of questioning is just that.

It is not that I believe or disbelieve, I sit on the fence, currently.
I simply question that upon finding 500 or so skeletons and coming up with Neanderthal human subspecies is not science.

I feel that there are many questions regarding the truth. We in our current paradigm cannot view the truth as all of history and conclusions are based upon our paradigm of reality.

I appreciate very much that in your articles you do not avoid the Pagan (non Christian) peoples as many do, who write about our history.

If one can read "Alice in Wonderland" and view the story with the key to the story it makes perfect sense, otherwise it is an enigma.

The Neanderthal hypothesis (sic) has far too many questions attached of which I think that there are no answers, as yet.
It is also not only the science of Neanderthal that I question it is all of science as it is applied to history.


This is the most important difference between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals

That's one of the interesting takeaways from a long article by Vox's Brain Resnick exploring the inter-species sex lives of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis.

(Every living person not of exclusively African descent has some Neanderthal ancestry. It appears Neanderthals never made it to Africa.)

Resnick spoke to Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University. Here's the bit of their conversation that stuck out to me:

"They probably needed about another 600 or 700 calories a day more than a modern human" to feed their hardier bodies, [Wood] explains — great in times of plenty but catastrophic in a famine. They were the gas-guzzling pickup truck of the hominids . We were the smart car.

That goes a ways toward explaining why our species of human out-competed Neanderthals, even as we mated with them.

It's unclear how smart or social Neanderthals were, but we know they never formed the kinds of large, aggressive bands that Homo sapiens did. They were squatter than us, and bulkier, with wide bones and short foreheads. We also know their numbers dwindled, and then they disappeared around 40,000 years ago.

Wood's suggestion, that Neanderthals were simply not energy-efficient enough to survive periods of scarcity, is compelling. (Still, as he points out later, Neanderthals managed to survive for a million years, far longer than we have so far.)

To be clear: Wood doesn't claim that this difference in caloric need is the complete explanation for Neanderthals' demise, but he does conjure an intriguing image — a species that simply requires more resources than the world could always offer.



Comments:

  1. Zukasa

    It is a pity, that now I can not express - there is no free time. I will return - I will necessarily express the opinion on this question.

  2. Tilford

    Well, you don't have to say that.



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