Neanderthals have always been considered creatures that have little to do with the family of humans. Initially, it was believed that physically they resemble a monkey, that is why they can not belong to the group of Homo sapiens, and too primitive to behave like modern people. Currently, there is new information on the adaptation of Neanderthals, and usage of modern and sophisticated means of subsistence by them. Most anthropologists have attributed Neanderthals to the human group. Most modern scholars believe that Neanderthals were good hunters, deft, friendly, artistic and successful in all respects human, but not half-wild creatures that have a very remote connection to modern humans. It has long been known that the volume of Neanderthals’ cranium was greater than the volume of the human skull. Although, Neanderthals and modern humans are separate species that evolved from a common ancestor several hundred thousand years ago, Neanderthals were as intelligent as modern humans, and had similar characteristics.
Neanderthal man is extinct or assimilated representative of the genus humans. The first people with Neanderthal features existed in Europe 600-350 thousand years ago, and the last Neanderthals lived 25-30 thousand years ago. It can be supposed that Neanderthals were a kind of modern man. This opinion comes from both the morphological features of the Neanderthals (body shape), because their structural features can be compared with the characteristic of modern humans; and their brains, as it is indicated by the artifacts (the average size of their brain was even greater than the size of the modern human brain).
Recently, additional evidence that Neanderthals had the ability to think in symbols was obtained. This fact can be considered a proof that Neanderthals were human. The repeated analysis of a well-known Neanderthal culture called the Châtelperronian was conducted. This culture was named due to the name of the cave Châtelperron, located in central France. Artifacts are decorations with ornaments and tools made of bone. However, because of the stratigraphic characteristics of the terrain, many researchers have ignored the Neanderthal origin of these artifacts. That is, it is believed that the rock layers were proof that in this place modern humans supplanted and replaced the supposedly more primitive Neanderthals. However, the rock layers lying above with indisputable remains of modern humans belong to the so-called Aurignacian period. This fact was supposed to be evidence that Neanderthals had returned again. Thus, they were accused of that they simply adopted or imitated innovation culture of “modern humans”.
However, the Zilhao’s team showed that the model built on stratigraphic features was wrong. In fact, some of the layers in which the remains of Neanderthal man were found, lying over the layers with the remains of modern man, were just the reverse primer. It was a result of the search for minerals, which was carried out in the nineteenth century. And some Aurignacian artifacts were actually “individual inclusions” in the layers of Châtelperronian culture, although they contained the bones of carnivores.
This finding, together with the data of the study of rock strata in other locations of caves, have a huge impact on the understanding of the European Neanderthals, and more impact on the understanding of human evolution. Differences between Neanderthals and modern humans are supposed to be much less than it was previously believed. The results indicate that cognitive ability and thinking by symbols were inherent to people before the period when there was a division into two sub-species about 400,000 years ago. Neanderthals and other species of human indicate peculiar only to people cognition and thinking characters. Thus, Neanderthals definitely can be considered humans.
Speech gives people the ability to communicate effectively. Probably, it is the most striking feature that distinguishes humans from other living beings. However, some people are born with an impaired ability for language and speech development delay. This syndrome is known as a specific speech disorder. Children with a specific speech disorder delay in speech development and perception, compared with their peers, and this leads to difficulties in learning and reading in school. Recently, in one family, in which a specific speech disorder was observed for three generations, damaged gene – FOXP2 – was found. This same gene FOXP2 was detected in others suffering from the same disorder.
People with a damaged gene FOXP2, often suffer from a specific speech disorder, but the same mutational variants do not always lead to this disorder that indicates the complexity of the genetics of speech. After the entire DNA sequence of the human FOXP2 gene was transcribed, FOXP2 can be used as an indicator gene – the genetic mechanism that differentiates human, primates and other animals.
A recent analysis of Neanderthal DNA, which, according to the evolutionary timeline, evolved about 400,000 years ago, showed that they had exactly the same gene FOXP2 (derived from the DNA sequence), as the modern humans. In addition to the morphological and physiological evidence of the existence of the vocal tract, which includes a modern hyoid bone, molecular biology provides evidence that Neanderthals had all the characteristics necessary for speaking in a difficult language. Thus, the genes FOXP2, detected in Neanderthals, prove that they were human indeed. These conclusions are consistent with the position of creationists regarding that Neanderthals were people who lived after the Flood, in present-day Europe and Asia.
The low intelligence is considered to be the main cause of the extinction of the Neanderthals. However, Villa and Roebroeks argue that it is a wrong idea. They studied data on Neanderthals and modern humans species that lived between 200 and 40 thousand years ago. It was found out that Neanderthals as Homo sapiens have been using the method of driven hunt for large animals. Thus, they were able to communicate, work together in the planning, and use the landscape for their own purposes.
Another archeological evidence suggests a diverse diet of Neanderthals. Their menu includes not only meat but also wild peas, acorns, pistachio, wild olives, pine nuts, dates. In addition, they were able to use ochre for body painting. In their parking, a plenty of decorations were found. Of this suggests that that Neanderthals may have certain rituals, in addition, they probably had their own symbols. Thus, they had all four characteristics of complex behavior, inherent, as it was thought only to modern humans:
- extensive use of land resources;
- fishing and hunting;
- use of small-scale resource;
- use resources depending on the time of year.
Neanderthal man was one of the last in the chain of known hominid, which eventually led to modern humans. Life strategies peculiar to modern humans have been reported among archaic humans such as Neanderthals, even ~28,000 years ago. However, many anthropologists still can not give up the view that they were if not dumb, but not so wise as modern humans, in respect of social behavior, creativity and life strategies. Thus, there is a certain percentage of superiority, but this superiority is much better balanced now. with the modern researches, the hypothetical difference between Neanderthals and modern humans tends to disappear. Therefore, one should stop calling the ancient ancestors Neanderthals because they were just humans.
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