The extinction of the Neanderthals 25,000 years ago is still a mystery. But if they weren’t extinct by that time, would we be able to live with them on Earth?
Regardless of the continent’s origin, all modern humans are “wise” humans of African origin, known as “Homo sapiens”. But when Homo sapiens arrived in Europe 40,000 years ago, there was already a group of native humans that actually lived there, the Neanderthals.
This breed is from 1.6 meters to 1.7 meters tall, with a large head, large nose and bushy eyebrows. A strong man of this species can take down our best boxers with a single fist. In essence, this human race is very different from our species.
Over the past few years, researchers have found that some modern humans carry Neanderthal-like “genes,” but this doesn’t change the fact that Neanderthals are now completely extinct.
So it is possible that our relationship with this distant relative is like that of a lion and a tiger, they are two related species, and they can sometimes interbreed. However, the genes of tigers and lions determine that they cannot produce a large number of healthy offspring. Such individuals, known as tigons and ligers, are often infertile and unable to resist disease.
Similarly, the exchange of genes between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals is rare and not sufficient to merge into a new race. Therefore, the mysterious disappearance of Neanderthals 25,000 years ago was not due to hybridization with Homo sapiens but gradually merging with Homo sapiens. If Neanderthals could have survived on Earth longer, would they have survived today?
Surely many people would think that Neanderthals could not live because it was a much less intelligent human race than us. But with the deepening of scientific studies, this statement will probably no longer be true. Through current research, we know that the Neanderthal brain was slightly larger than ours. They used stones to make all kinds of intricate tools, and they are no different from the tools our ancestors used long ago.
Neanderthals were even extremely intelligent and imaginative. They used paints, made jewelry, and possibly made musical instruments (such as flutes made of bones).
Scientists think they can build boats and even explore the Greek islands with them, which is how Homo sapiens arrived in Australia over there tens of thousands of years ago. world. Some archaeologists even believe that “technology” appeared in Europe more than 40,000 years ago (such as intricate stone saws, bone tools and sculptures, and early rock paintings). first) did not come from the hands of Homo sapiens, instead it is a Neanderthal masterpiece.
Therefore, it would be a bit presumptuous to think that our ancestors lived longer than Neanderthals because they were smarter!
Another view that makes us feel that Neanderthals could not have survived until now is that Homo sapiens wiped them out. Homo sapiens waged a war against the Neanderthals until they were wiped out. Maybe so, but why would Homo sapiens want to exterminate Neanderthals?
But in fact, the two human species have coexisted peacefully for 3000 to 5000 years in Western Europe, especially in the territory of present-day France, in addition, archaeologists have never found any signs of conflict. from the known archaeological evidence.
And what’s surprising is that war seems so rare in the Paleolithic. Of the hundreds of ancient human skeletons found around the world, only a few dozen have been found with scars caused by violence, and the cause cannot be ruled out as an accident during hunting. .
In addition, scientists also think that Neanderthals and our ancestors often lived in distant areas. Compared to Homo sapiens, Neanderthals actually preferred large mammals, such as deer or bison. Some scholars believe that this dietary difference may explain why our distant relatives disappeared 25,000 years ago.
In fact, during that period, the climate became extremely cold, and large animals were difficult to find. Neanderthals have large muscles and brains and need more calories than us, so their livelihood will be more difficult than Homo sapiens.
If Neanderthals disappeared because of this, then the question is: if the temperature did not drop suddenly at that time, could Neanderthals survive? Perhaps this is possible. For a while, everything will go smoothly. But when people’s way of life changes from a nomadic hunter-gatherer life to a sedentary agricultural life (as has happened in history), trouble will arise. Let’s go back to 12,000 years ago.
The last ice age is over. Climate change led to the disappearance of the forests of the Middle East, forcing the first inhabitants of Mesopotamia to create agriculture (growing wheat, domesticating cattle) to feed their bellies.
In this way, two hands of one person can produce food that can feed many people. Food is constantly stocking up in newly formed settlements, and people no longer need to waste time searching for food. Some people started to focus on making new tools or building houses. This was the beginning of rapid technological progress. The agricultural population grew rapidly because they occupied new lands, or because neighboring tribes followed suit.
And this was also a time when our ancestors had a good reason to go to war: conflicts broke out over lands that could be used for farming, settlements, or occupation. enemy farmland.
If you were a farmer in that period and a new stranger came to steal your crops, you had no choice but to fight him, because if you give up your land and your crops, you will starve to death.
As farming technology approached Europe, Homo sapiens became farmers, and Neanderthals were probably still in the hunting age, because of areas frequented by Neanderthals, such as Aquitaine in southwestern France, southern Spain and the mouth of the Rhine are the regions with the longest hunter-gatherer lifestyles in history.
Finally, in the face of the constant advancement of Homo sapiens farming technology, the Neanderthals had no choice but to attack the settler farmers and seize supplies and food that they could not make themselves to fight the invasion. progress of agricultural civilization. This situation is not impossible. In the 19th century, such struggles occurred between American Indians and European immigrants.
However, this did not make the Neanderthals extinct because they could also change their way of life and establish their own inherent civilization, like the Huns and the ancient Mongols. If so, then perhaps there would now be a strange country in Europe, mostly Neanderthals.