Human and Neandertal Essay

Submitted By nicholascullen0146
Words: 1655
Pages: 7

Nicholas Cullen
Physical Anthropology
Neanderthal Evolution

Whereas prevailing scientific and archaeological theories are often based on individual interpretation of subjective data, Neandertals were a considerably more socially advanced and intelligent species than previously suspected. Given that Neandertals have exhibited, through the analysis of fossils, artifacts, and bio-molecular research, identifiably humanistic behavior. I, myself, was accustomed to the erroneous assertion that the Neandertal was a brutish, socially inferior and culturally inept species. The people who inhabited Europe during the middle and late Pleistocene periods displayed an advanced understanding of tool making, artistic and symbolic behavior, and a level of communal caring for one another that is seldom translated in the current global culture.
An archeological specimen uncovered in China known as the Jinnushian Specimen was excavated in 1984 from a collapsed limestone cave.(4) This specimen, uranium dated between 310,000 and 200,000 years prior, was the earliest known example to include both “modern” skeletal features, and those of the Neandertal.(4) The most notable feature being its cranial capacity. Another specimen found in China is the Tianyuan Fossils. These are among the oldest specimens that can be directly dated and alternately contain early modern human characteristics along with several late archaic human features.(4) The scientific study of these remains suggested that the specimen may have worn shoes.(4) Prior to this discovery, prevailing belief was that the Neandertal did not possess this level of intelligence. Interestingly, some believe that this small evolutionary step signaled the start of the human pinky toe to become weaker. Recently in 2009, a rare specimen was unearthed from approximately 110,000 years ago that contained a fossilized membrane, with a protruding brow and a small forehead.(5) These specimens displaying similarly species-specific characteristics, show a developing human anatomy over the course of 20,000 years. One can see how the evolution of modern anatomy may be explained by studying these findings.
The first fossilized specimens of these indigenous Europeans were discovered in Neander Valley, Germany.(2) Hence the name given, Neandertals. For many years, this species was saddled with a description of a subhuman, knuckle-dragging being incapable of intelligent actions. An integral component in this flawed assumption was a Neandertal skeleton discovered with crippling arthritis.(3) The specimen was incorrectly reconstructed and was theoretically assigned a hunched over posture and a slow shuffling walk. European Neandertal existed in some of the harshest climactic conditions known to man. This was an era where Europe was largely covered in glaciers. It is theoretically suggested that the Neandertal developed its large protruding nose, and short forearms and legs for cold weather adaptation. European Neandertal had similar hands and fingers to modern humans, with the exception of more powerful thumbs.(1) Theoretically for better gripping . The indigenous Europeans from the middle to late Pleistocene era owned a powerful frame.(5) Bio-molecular research has discovered a gene commonly associated with light colored skin and hair in a specimen from Italy that is approximately 50,000 years old.(2) This is a gene that is found in modern humans as well.
A relatively intelligent population would need repeatable tool making procedures to sustain long term existence. Neandertals discovered that stone could be shaped by soft materials like bone or wood. These softer resources made it easier to produce more refined tools with sharper and straighter edges. The process these people used to make tools, named the Levallois Technique, was a slightly different way of producing tools than previously used.(2) Instead of taking one whole rock, and chipping away at it until it has a utilitarian shape , they systematically and…