Neanderthal Man

Homo centralis (Neanderthal Man) 60 000 years ago in Europe

This Neanderthal Man has brown hair and a red beard. He’s feeling grumpy about having to move his tent again.

Long tradition of camping in a bog

The Neanderthal campsite didn’t look exactly like this, but it was just as boggy. Mammoth hunter and marshland dweller had its advantages and drawbacks. Neanderthal quite often upped his sticks and moved on, taking his tent with him.

Camping in the Lake District – flooded out two years running but still stuck it out in the swamp

The advantage Neanderthal had was that he went everywhere in a bark canoe with his whole family and tent poles and cover. When it got cold they lit a fire in the middle of the canoe to keep warm and cook some shellfish. It didn’t burn through the bottom of the canoe because he was not as daft as he’s been made out to be so he knew how to prevent that happening.

Neanderthal and a new way of life

The prehistory of Neanderthal and Cro Magnon man is one of conflict.  Neanderthal man entered Europe 52 000 years ago but was chased out by Cro Magnon man; he was either killed off or left 33 000 years ago.  This has been presented as a superior species of mankind getting rid of an inferior, unevolved species of mankind.  Since the 19th century Neanderthal has been portrayed as an incapable brute unable to figure out what to do.

The truth, I believe, is very far from this.  Did this ‘half-evolved brute’ stoop because his ape ancestors caused him to be unable to walk upright like a man?  No, not at all.  Neanderthal spent a lot of time squatting which caused his hip joints to face a certain way, and he did all this squatting because he spent a lot of time in a canoe squatting.

Neanderthal’s arms were long because he used them for paddling as his dominant form of locomotion.  His stocky body was barrel-shaped, rather than having a flat rib cage.  The wide female pelvis allowed for a brain size above the modern average – it ranged from 1250 to 1750 cc.

Neanderthal had thick skull bones and a low forehead with separate brow ridges, especially in the male.  His nose was large with a prominent bridge to the nose.

The stone industry of Homo neanderthalensis was the Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian stone industry.  This industry comprises a lot of well-made flint spearheads.  It dates from 100 000 years ago in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Neanderthal was a large game hunter using spears, as well as a shellfish eater.  He left mounds of shells at the sites he occupied on the coast.

I see Neanderthal as a bronze-skinned type with dark hair in a birch bark canoe.  He was adapted to the cold.

Neanderthal came to Israel from the Black Sea 60 000 years ago and moved on to hunt Ice Age fauna in Europe.  (He should have a different name as his origin was not the valley of this name in Germany).  In the Levant region Neanderthal encountered Homo sapiens and left some genes among the Homo sapiens population – probably from the capturing of Neanderthal women by Homo sapiens.  In Europe, however, there was outright competition between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens Cro Magnon man with the latter ousting the former.

Both before and after this encounter in the west, Neanderthal also moved eastwards through Asia to Siberia and Alaska reaching North America and South America possibly 100 000 years ago, but certainly by 30 000 years ago.  All over America and in Siberia canoe nomads left behind the Miolithic stone industry which is akin to the Mousterian stone industry.  Using these obsidian stone weapons he hunted American megafauna on the plains, while other tribes specialized in being marine hunter-gatherers.

What Homo neanderthalensis with his Middle Palaeolithic stone tool industry had made was a way of life that enabled him to exploit resources that other peoples had not exploited fully up until then.  Canoes allowed him to inhabit the shores of the Black Sea, cross the Mediterranean into Europe and penetrate inland via rivers.  At some point he ventured far enough north to cross from Siberia into Alaska and enter the continent of America. It was there for the taking as it was mainly uninhabited by previous peoples.

Migrations of the genus Homo

It is my contention that all forms of humans have been intelligent and fully human from day one.  Day one happened a long time ago, in fact 3.6 million years ago.  All humans descend from the first male and female progenitors of the human lineage who appeared in South Africa in a place of dense forest.

The different forms of humans from prehistory are labelled as separate species, although manifestly they had no problems in producing offspring together from time to time.  This means that they were not separate species, but only separate sub-species of one human species.

The genus of mankind is Homo and the species is sapiens – the creature with knowledge.  To reflect the belief that all humans have been fully human, each species should be labelled as, for example, Homo sapiens habilis.  In this case, habilis would denote the sub-species.  Within sub-species there are races or varieties which have slight differences, but all belong to one species.

I will be using some of the classic labels for the prehistoric forms of humans just to try to avoid confusion in an area of anthropology ladden with confusion. But I also intend to propose new labels.

So let’s be clear – I am asserting that there has never been an ape-man; there have been primitive forms of mankind, but an intermediate gradation between apes and humans has never existed.

Did Neanderthal stoop and swing his arms like an ape?  No, he had features of the hip bones found in some modern populations and they walk perfectly well.  His arms were a bit long, but that is because he was using them for locomotion – not knuckle-walking like an ape, but paddling a water craft.  The same feature is found in canoe nomad tribes in South America.

The average size of Neanderthal’s brain was significantly larger than the global average of modern humans today.  He may have lost out to incoming Homo sapiens populations in Ice Age Europe 35 000 years ago, but it was not because he lacked intelligence.  I’ll be getting to grips with these issues on this website and in books.

First, a quick overview of the migration of the human lineage.  This is the migration of humans (none of them were ape-men):

Australopithecus was first found in South Africa 3.6 million years ago. 

By 2 million years ago Homo habilis was living in East Africa.

Homo erectus also known as Homo ergaster lived in East Africa 1.8 million years ago.

By 2 million years ago Homo erectus was also living in Indonesia in Asia.

These first forms of humans only lived in tropical regions of the world.

Homo erectus migrated to southern Europe by 1 million years ago.  He is sometimes called Homo antecesor in Spain.

500 000 to 300 000 years ago there was Homo pekinensis in China, Homo heidelbergensis in Europe and Olduvai man in East Africa.  This globally distributed form of human used to be labelled Archaic Homo sapiens.  Among Archaic Homo sapiens three racial types started to evolve: proto-mongoloids, proto-caucasoids and proto-negroids.

Homo neanderthalensis appeared some 100 000 years ago in Central Asia.  He moved into the Levant region (Israel) and then Europe.

Homo sapiens appeared 100 000 years ago in Israel.  This was the place where populations from Africa, Asia and Europe met.  It was ‘the melting pot’ of cultures and of intermarriage between peoples for 65 000 years before Homo sapiens migrated into Europe.

Key inventions and adaptation to cold allowed Homo sapiens to move northwards into Ice Age Europe 35 000 years ago.  Homo sapiens also called Cro Magnon man caused Neanderthal to cease to occupy Europe 33 000 years ago (but Homo neanderthalensis went elsewhere).

When the Ice Age ended 10 000 years ago, Neolithic populations grew up first in Asia and America, and later in the Middle East moving into Europe by 5000 BC.  Homo sapiens Ice Age hunters became herders in northern Europe and dispersed to other places after the Ice Age ended.  Civilizations grew up on the basis of Neolithic agriculture, and the rest is history as they say.