Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Are we Neanderthal?

      Think of the term ‘cave man’ and your mind’s eye will probably picture a representation of the Neanderthals.
      Most people assume that the Neanderthal died out during the last ice age or were wiped out by our own ancestors, The Cro-magnon.
      However there is a current debate within scientific circles that argues that Neanderthal did not die out but were absorbed by the Cro-magnon through interbreeding
      There is nothing shocking or new about the idea that Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon man may have interacted. Considering the ancestors of both shared the planet for hundreds of thousands of years it could be said that it is not only probable but an absolute certainty that their paths would have crossed thousands of times and interaction at all levels and at all intensities would have occurred.
      So why is it such a difficult idea to contemplate? Could it be that Neanderthal Man is often seen as a vastly inferior species and therefore our global subconscious rails against the idea. After all, they were nothing but stupid awkward cavemen, dirty giant brutes slow of mind and ignorant of anything except clubbing animals to death for food.....weren’t they?
      Due to an unfortunate and mistaken analysis carried out over a hundred years ago, Neanderthal Man has often been portrayed as described above, however, due to new discoveries and a better understanding, a veil is being drawn back to reveal a completely different creature than the stereotypical cave man that has been embedded in the psyche of modern humanity.
      These people lived in mutually supportive groups, played music, carried out minor surgery, looked after the sick and the old and even buried their dead with gifts and flowers. They made tools, traded with other camps, mastered fire and ensured their species survived in the harshest of environments, long before Cro-Magnon spread into their lands.
      As far as their intelligence goes we may never know, but when you consider that Neanderthal Man's brains were at least as big as, and often bigger than modern day man it would suggest that their individual achievements were only limited by their own imagination.
      Neanderthal Man survived for over two hundred thousand years, and if you compare that with our own recent history of two thousand years since the birth of Christ, we can perhaps begin to understand how successful they actually were. Therefore, it could be argued that for a large expanse of time Neanderthal Man was at least the equal of our own ancestors in many areas, and until strength of numbers overwhelmed them, actually their superiors both in number and survival success.
      Statistically It is not only a possibility but a certainty that the two species would have interbred. Humanity in all its guises share certain needs and wants. Food, water, safety and companionship are amongst the most basic, but lust is also a natural human feeling. It lies at the very basis of reproduction and would have been just as potent hundreds of thousands of years ago as it is today.
      So step forward Neanderthal Man. Family oriented, and forward thinker. Take your place as an important member of our family tree. You lived, you loved and you died. No different to modern day man.  No different to us.
      Neanderthal Man did not die out, they are here.........no, not they.......WE... are here!

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