Old News #7, Monday, June 22nd 2015: Prehistoric Parentage
Recent carbon dating of Neanderthal remains suggests that early modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed for thousands of years more than originally thought. As with many archaeological finds, the science of this discovery is more boring than the headlines. There are only very few new evidence here. And although these new facts may be interesting, the real interesting part is the speculation. Even the scientists involved can’t help but use their imagination.
That’s what I love about this BBC article. The single sentence that most got my imagination going was this:
“The new evidence suggests that the two groups may even have exchanged ideas and culture, say the researchers.”
It sounds like the perfect scenario for a science-fiction story. It would be easy to imagine the human versus Neanderthal dynamic as being somewhat akin to Abbott and Costello, Kramden and Norton and of course, Flintstone and Rubble–mismatched neighbors of slightly differing IQs.
The article doesn’t go into exactly what they might have shared, of course, because we can’t truly know. And anyway, we can imagine it for ourselves so it’s okay. The speculation of the scientists mentioned in the article is that they simply competed for the same resources and the humans had an edge.
But aside from sharing a continent, the article mentions something else that they shared.
According to the article, this is not new information. And they don’t really go into what that means, but we all know what it means.
Humans and Neanderthals fucked.
So although they were declining in numbers and weren’t able to compete successfully for resources, it seems that they did have something going for them.
Some of you might be thinking, well it may have the Neanderthals who were attracted to the humans. But that’s speculation too. We can never know if it was the thick, meaty foreheads of the Neanderthals or the haughty modern posture of the humans that was what got the prehistoric juices flowing. And in the end it doesn’t matter, because it takes two to tango.
So since many of us have a percentage of Neanderthal DNA, how can we say that they actually died off? If you ask me, the Neanderthals fulfilled their biological duty and passed their genes on, no matter how scant. And it seems that the humans had a good time helping them do it.