History 101: The Neanderthals

All You Need To Know about Neanderthals

Curated by Stillmind

(A nice bedtime story)Neanderthal

Next to our own selves, there is no more interesting hominid than the Neanderthal. Neanderthals are the humans manqué, the evolutionary dead-end; eerily like us, but different in many ways. And they are the subject of one the hottest ongoing debates in anthropology. These big-brained, stocky-bodied people, inhabited Europe and the Middle East about 200,000 years ago. And there is still tons of information to find out about them. However, with the information we have, we can see that Neanderthals are very similar to modern humans. This helps us know everything we need to know about Neanderthals.

About 35,000 years ago, is when Neanderthals died out. The fossils that we find have been dug up in various places, mainly in Europe. This also, tells us that it is likely that Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis appeared roughly 120,000 years ago. In the past, some have claimed that Neanderthals held ritual burials, which would have implied highly developed social behaviors and possibly even religion. But that belief was largely based on a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal burial at Shanidar cave in Iraq, where pollen grains were taken to imply that the body had been covered with flowers. Many scientists now believe the plant material is anincidental intrusion. In reality the number of claimed Neandertal burials is extremely low and none has yielded convincing evidence for grave goods. Neanderthals lived during the time of the Ice Age.

They became well adapted to cold conditions. They roamed widely and used certain settlement places at particular times of the year. They traveled very slowly to other continents. They did not need a boat, since it was the time of the Ice Age. There were natural bridges of solid, frozen ice and land that allowed them to travel over vast rivers and seas. But, for a very long time, the earth was frozen, creating giant walkways. Some of these walkways were a hundred miles wide. These early people wandered from Africa to Europe and Asia and from Asia to America, probably in search of food. This early man was named after the valley in which the first skeleton remains were found, Neander Tal. This early man’s real name is Homo Neandertalensis. However, In the beginning, scientist believed Neanderthals were dim-witted brutes with clubs and beast-like features, who walked with bent knees and shambling gaits, with heads slung forward on their big squat necks. But scientist had to rethink a bit after all the discoveries they found. Now, today scientist is still finding and learning more about Neanderthals.Neanderthals used their Homes, Food, Clothing, and Tools and Weapons to survive in the wild Environment they lived in. These early men built permanent homes, to shelter from the long, harsh winter of the Ice Age. In the summer, theyfollowed the herds, and lived in tents and caves. Winter homes were Ice Age huts, built teepee style, from branches and mammoth bones, covered with animal skins. These huts were used for many years, so they built them carefully. Holes were dug, deeply into the ground. Poles were inserted into these holes, and then tied tightly together at the point of the teepee, at the top, with string made from animal guts. Warm furs were laid over this structure and sewn tightly in place. Large rocks were piled around the bottom, to help hold the hut together. For Food, these hunt-gatherers are a variety of seeds, berries, roots and nuts, as did their ancestors. They also are fish and seemed to have an ample supply of freshly caught game. There lives were not a constant struggle for survival because they were such good hunters. They learned to organize hunts and to cure and store food for the long winter. Hunting was done individually and in-groups. They used traps, which allowed them to catch food while they were busy doing something else. Fisherman used bows and arrows, nets woven from vines, fish hooks, and even poisons. Some groups built rafts and canoes, to catch bigger fish in deeper waters. Neanderthals also used clothing to survive. In colder climates, early man learned to soften leather to make warm, comfortable clothes, sewn together with string made from animal guts, usingneedles made from bone. In warmer climates, they made cooler clothes from woven grass, and even from bark. They made necklaces and bracelets out of shells, teeth, feathers, flowers, and bone. Some decorated theirbodies with paint and tattoos, made from natural dyes. That’s not the only way they survived. The most important way they survived was from their tools and weapons. Man had learned to be a skilled toolmaker. Weapons included stone axes, knives, spears, harpoons, wooden bows and sharp stone tipped arrows. These tools and weapons were used for finding food and protection and other ways they could use them. It is obvious that Neanderthals used lots of ways to survive their harsh environment.

Neanderthal vs woolly rhino - BBC

Current evidence in today’s society has shown that the Neanderthal’s were not very different from ourselves in many important ways. Certainly, they had a distinctive skeletal structure, but few differences clothes would not hide. On the average, Neanderthals had longer and lower skulls than living humans do, with longer face and teeth, but no chin, and massive brow ridges in front of a brain as large as our own, but differently shaped. Their bodies were stockier and more mascular than ours, which, combined with their facial features, gave them greater resistance to the fierce cold of glacial climate. Neanderthals were capable craftsmen. As compared to the general-use artifacts of earlier humans, their stone tools were made in a variety of well-defined shapes, often for specific purposes.There is also clear evidence that they had control of fire, lived in caves or open-air structures of stone and vegetation, hunted large game from which they made clothing, cared for their sick or weak, and even buried their dead with some”religious” ceremonies. It is a proven fact that fossils found today of Neanderthals are just like those of modern humans. And with that kind of evidence it is hard not to believe that modern humans and Neanderthals were similar.The Neanderthals died out around 30,000 B.C. One theory is that they were killed off by some species of Homo Sapien man, but there is no evidence of this. Another theory is that they married into other groups, and that over time, they ceased to exist as a separate species. But these are just theories. However, it has been suggested that they disappeared because they are our direct ancestors, they evolved into modern humans. Neanderthals, while an African variety may have evolved into the earliest fully modeern people like ourselves. By 90,000 years ago, early Africans were living in the southern part of the continent, and moderns appeared in Eurasia somewhat later, finally replacing the Neanderthals. Asian peoples continued to spread outward as populations increased, reaching both Australia and the Americas. In the geological means to conquer all the climatic regions of the world and begin the exploration of the universe. From all the evidence shared and found by scientist, it is safe to say that Neanderthals and modern humans are very similar. All the way from their physical features, how they lived, and their bone structures compared to ours. There is still more to find out there and information to be explained.  Neanderthals are still to be found.

 

stay tuned…


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4 responses to “History 101: The Neanderthals

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  2. Human and Neanderthal brains were remarkably similar in shape right after birth, scientists found — perhaps because of the common need to squeeze a baby’s head through its mother’s birth canal.

    But differences set in during the first year. Human brains begin to morph from an elongated shape to a more rounded one. The Neanderthal brains, similar to chimpanzee brains, retained their oblong shape.

    Although any inference about Neanderthals’ cognitive ability would be speculative at best, Gunz said, the shape-shift of human brains may be linked to some underlying structural changes in brain regions that account for emotional, social and language development.