Re: Neanderthals
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 19:15:49 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 7/17/97 1:47:53 PM, wrote:

>John K Clark write:
>>Neanderthals lived from 300,000 to 30,000 years ago,
>>fully modern humans came
>>along about 120,00 years ago, so they coexisted
>>for about 90 thousand years.
>>Neanderthals had brains at least as large
>>as modern humans and they made
>>tools almost as sophisticated, the main
>>difference in culture was that
>>Humans produced Art and Neanderthals did not.
>>That's probably significant but I
>>confess I don't quite know what to make of it.
>The only difference between a dead species
>and the most advanced species to
>exist on earth is the ability to create art!

Not really true. Bones of Neanderthal children show sign of heavy use (as
compared to Cro-Magnon), as I understand, so at least children were treated
differently. There were certainly physiological differences (shoulder
strength, larynx shape). There *could* have been significant psychological
or cultural differences as well. We wouldn't know; those things don't
fossilize well.

Neanderthals might not have made art by inclination, or they might have
lacked the free time and security to do art. Alternatively, perhaps art only
develops in fairly large societies (humans go to great length to communicate,
even over great distance) and Neanderthals didn't do that. It's even
possible that Neanderthals did art and we just haven't found any yet.

It's very fortunate that we have been able to deduce the genetic connection
between Neanderthals and ourselves but a real pity that there aren't any
left. It would be very useful to observe them or even talk to them.

Incidentally, I consider the original discovery that started this thread to
be an incredible achievement. From a few bones, tens of thousand of years
old, we are able to deduce behavior in populations nearly a million years
ago. Wow. Who needs magic?