Saturday, May 26, 2012

What Happened to the Neanderthals

What happened to the Neanderthals? We cannot be certain, although anthropologists advance several interesting theories. Were they exterminated by invading bands of new men, who outnumbered them and wrested their hunting territories from them? Or did the Neanderthals die off by themselves before they ever came into contact with the invaders? Unable to cope with the new conditions of living as the climate in Europe began to change, were they carried off by malnutrition and disease? We know that plagues can wipe out vast populations just as the Black Death did during the Middle Ages. But it hardly seems likely that a whole people, especially a group as widely scattered as the Neanderthals, could have been totally eliminated without leaving a trace behind them.

With what, then, are we left? Just the situation that usually prevails when a conqueror overwhelms a native people. Some of the original inhabitants are struck down fighting desperately for their territory and families; some flee to inaccessible regions, where they maintain their separate identities for many years; others fall victim to the alien diseases brought by the new invader; and those who survive interbreed with the new comer. As time goes by, the distinctions between the original inhabitants and the invaders tend to disappear. So, after a number of generations of contact with the new men, the extreme neanderthal features became diluted in the general population and finally vanished. According to the last research performed by German and Spanish anthropologists, decoding the genetic code of a Neanderthal, both modern white and yellow races share with this primitive human being up to 6% of genes. Thus, we can say that he did not become extinct, for there is a bit of Neanderthal inside us, and we must not feel embarrassed at this discovery, because the cranial capacity of many Neanderthals ranged from 1,500 and 1600 cc, larger than today's man of 1,450 cc. The Neanderthal was a very intelligent human being and a great innovator; not only did he improve the weapons and tools made out of stone and bone, but he also learned to manufacture a special kind of glue from a tree bark to fasten a spearhead to a long shaft and to process resin to make torches! To succeed as a great hunter in extremely cold weather conditions requires intelligence and great determination.