- The fascination with Neanderthals never cease, mainly because they showed us what we could have become if we evolved just like them.
- Neanderthals turned out to become dangerous warriors, warriors so skilled that it can only be rivaled by us, the modern humans.
- It took Homo sapiens more than 150,000 years to take over Neanderthal lands.
The difference between us and the Neanderthals are pretty straightforward. Humanity split into two around 600,000 years ago, with one remaining in Africa, which became the modern man that we have become.
The other half ended up into Asia, onward to Europe, becoming the Neanderthals or the Homo Neanderthalensis. Clearly, they weren’t our ancestors, more like they are a sister species that evolved differently from how we developed.
The fascination with Neanderthals never cease, mainly because they show us what we could have become if we evolved just like them. Now we would love to imagine that these members of humanity lived a more peaceful and tranquil life compared to us, totally one with nature, just like, say, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden… before the chaos that ensued, that is.
But reality turned out to be darker than this ideal picture that we imagine it to be. Neanderthals turned out to become dangerous warriors, warriors so skilled that it can only be rivaled by us, the modern humans.
Neanderthals evolved to become big-game hunters, just like wolves, lions, and Homo sapiens. They were on top of the food chain, which naturally presented problems – they have few predators of their own, which can lead to overpopulation, which in turn leads to fighting over hunting grounds.
This is why Neanderthals took it upon themselves to control their numbers in order to solve the problem.
This territorial tendencies are all natural. Take a look at how male chimps tend to group themselves to attack and kill other males from rival gangs. This behavior is just like human warfare. It means that the common ancestors of chimps and humans 7 million years ago have evolved into this kind of behavior, which also means that Neanderthals have practiced this kind of cooperative aggression as well.
Archaeological findings reveal that the Neanderthals’ lives were anything but peaceful. They were big game hunters who used primitive weapons such as spears to hunt and kill animals such as deer, bison, elk, and ibex for food. They even took down bigger animals, such as rhinos and mammoths.
Some of the weapons include these Neanderthal javelins dated 300,000 year ago.
The way they hunt and kill are pretty much what the modern human does as well. We all know that a club to the head is one of the most effective ways to kill. Prehistoric members of Homo sapiens usually show trauma to the skull, and this applied to Neanderthals as well.
The Saint-Césaire Neanderthal skull, dated 36,000 year ago, was split due to a massive head blow.
There’s also evidence that the Neanderthals were not only natural warriors by necessity, but they also excelled at it too, given the way they made territorial boundaries. It was revealed that Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion for around 100,000 years.
This answers why humans took so long to leave Africa. Sure, the environment was hostile but on top of that, the Neanderthals were already adjusting well in Asia and Europe.
Neanderthals definitely had several strategic and technical advantages over Homo sapiens. They would have been more adept at living off native plants and animals, and had more intimate knowledge of the terrain.
Their physical attributes were a big factor as well – they had massive bodies with muscular builds and eyes more adaptable to low-light conditions, which gave them edge in raids and ambushes done during night time.
Of course, Homo sapiens eventually won but it definitely wasn’t easy. It took them more than 150,000 years to take over Neanderthal lands. Archaic Homo sapiens had to fall back several times before they can eliminate Neanderthals in Israel and Greece.
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