Homo Neanderthalensis Essay

Early human, a Neanderthal or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, existed between 130,000 and 30,000 years ago and is generally considered to be a relative class of Homo sapiens sapiens. There is much more information about the Neanderthals than about other prehistoric species and that is partly because of the fact that their fossils are rather new as well as it is caused by the factor of the purposeful burial of their dead. Many sites where Neanderthal fossils were found include the remains of individuals who were intentionally placed in graves that were dug into the ground. Some of those burials even showed evidence of being adorned with offerings, and that represents consciousness and recognition of life and death, that was practiced by the Neanderthals. (Background: Early finds and distribution)

Fossils of early Neanderthal were first disclosed in the Neander valley near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1856, and that was a signal of the first recognized fossil human form. However some time later it was realized that several Neanderthal sites had previously been revealed, but their fossils were not recognized as those of an ancient form of a human until the discovery of “Neanderthal Man.” In 1864 a new species was publicly recognized and was given an official title: Homo neanderthalensis.

Neanderthals populated in Europe and western Asia during the latter part of the Pleistocene. The climate in those regions tended to be cold and that lead to some particular adaptations that were made by Neanderthals. Neanderthals and modern humans (Homo sapiens) are rather similar anatomically — so similar, in fact, that in 1964, there was a theory that Neanderthals were not even a separate species from modern humans, but that the two forms that just represented two subspecies: Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens. That opinion was spread during the 1970’s and 80’s, however many scientists nowadays have returned to the previous two different species hypothesis. Either way, Neanderthals represent a very close developed over the course of the evolution relative of modern Homo sapiens sapiens. (Creationist Arguments: Neanderthals)

Neanderthals were hunter-gatherers who moved across Europe with the progress and withdrawal of the Ice Age glaciers. The number of their total population probably never exceeded 100,000. After 130,000 years ago they created the technology and that tuned into a “classic Neanderthal technology called the Mousterian tradition”. They produced a great range of tools and finely trimmed cutting edges. They created the flint stones that were properly chipped, as well as the worked out the forms a cutting edge that was sharper than a modern steel scalpel. (Homo neanderthalensis)

Several unique features of Neanderthals’ skeleton appear to be related to cold climate adaptations. These include such features as: limb-bone proportions and muscle attachments indicative of a broad, slightly short, and strong muscular body, a set of anatomical traits of the skull and others. Another feature of the adaptation to the cold weather is the long and projecting nose, with rather large nostrils to warm the cold air up while breathing. Discovered tooth enamel patterns suggest that Neanderthals usually grew to adult size by age of 15. This particular distinction between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis was probably also a climatic adaptation made by our “ancestors”. (Background: Early finds and distribution).

Neanderthals would have been considered extraordinarily strong by common modern standards, and their skeletons show that they lead brutally hard lives. These short, muscular, heavily built people had a brain volume of 1200 to 1800 cubic centimeters that is equal to and even larger than the brains of the modern people. The Neanderthals were definitely incapable of a high level of language, though they were much more muscular than are modern humans – as well as they were about 30 to 40 percent more in weight. However, there was great anatomical variation within their population so there probably had been species of the modern human size.

As mentioned before their life was rough and strenuous. Because of such a tough lifestyle, very few of them rarely ever survived beyond the age of 40, and according to the researchers two out of five Neanderthals suffered from malnutrition diseases and arthritis. They must have also been able to walk extremely long distances, for they had extraordinary resistance.

Three areas of first and later Neanderthal habitation have distinctive fossil remains. There are fossils found in Western Europe that date at between 70,000 and 40,000 years old. The most recently existing remains are 36,300 years old, while the modern human fossil remains from the same area are only 30,000 to 34,000 years old. (Background: Early finds and distribution)
With the arrival of “modern” humans, with an advanced and “sophisticated” technology 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals started to vanish. Every year, we learn something new about the Neanderthal story and it is much more detailed now than it was even two years ago. But despite all of our attempts, some facts about the Neanderthals are blurred, and Neanderthals will probably keep those secrets forever.

Work Cited
Background: Early finds and distribution http://www.ecotao.com/holism/hu_neand.htm
Homo neanderthalensis http://www.mnh.si.edu/anthro/humanorigins/ha/neand.htm
Creationist Arguments: Neanderthals http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/a_neands.html

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