Mammoth               Neanderthals

Neanderthals -- Evolved in Europe's Ice Age, they hunt and kill 7-ton mammoths

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A Godless Philosophy - Contents

Preface  (What's this all about?)

The Story of Evolution

14,000,000,000 y.a. -- The Big Bang
Evolution begins

4,600,000,000 y.a. -- Our Sun and Earth
Stars evolve, producing the complex elements of organic life

2,500,000,000 y.a. -- First life forms on Earth
A bacteria reproduces itself, and the race is on

220,000,000 y.a. -- First mammals
A tiny shrew survives among the dinosaurs

30,000,000 y.a. -- The great apes of Africa
Chimps achieve sociability, planned combat, and use of natural objects as tools

5,000,000 y.a. -- Earliest human ancestors
It looks like a chimp but walks upright

3,000,000 y.a. -- Earliest toolmakers
Still chimp-like, this larger-brained ape makes the first stone tools

1,800,000 y.a. -- Later pre-humans
More human-looking without fur, this naked ape conquers fire and reaches Eurasia   

300,000 y.a. -- Neanderthals
Evolved in Europe's Ice Age, they hunt and kill 7-ton mammoths

50,000 y.a. -- Modern humans (Homo sapiens)
Fully human now, we narrowly escape extinction to follow our destiny

45,000 y.a. -- Spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia
Out of Africa, we encounter the pre-humans and fight our way north

30,000 y.a. -- Extinction of the last pre-humans
Neanderthals, the tough guys, hold out the longest

15,000 y.a. -- First settlements, city-states and empires
It takes us 35,000 years to create the first small city

600 y.a. -- Racial differences and European conquests
Guns, germs and steel

Now -- Human evolution in modern times
Where are we, and what lies ahead?

Theory or Science?  Sources and References

Evolution's Implications  (Summary)

Miscellaneous Musings

While humans were slowly evolving in Africa, a whole new species burst forth in Europe. Neanderthals started evolving from earlier pre-humans around 500,000 years ago in western Russia and became a distinct species about 120,000 years ago. Having evolved under glacial conditions, they were heavily built (a thick-set body reduces heat loss), with 1400 cc. brain size (slightly larger than modern humans).

The Neanderthals cared for their injured and buried their dead. They developed tools using tree resin to bind stone points to wooden handles, quite similar to the tools being developed in Africa by the evolving humans. However, despite their large brains, Neanderthals apparently lacked capability for further innovation. They never improved their stone tool set, and most scientists believe they never developed language.

Nevertheless, these were formidable people. Neanderthal bones are much more robust than human bones, indications of heavy musculature. And we know they killed mammoths and other megafauna of their era. Imagine the strength required to throw a stone-pointed spear hard enough to penetrate the thick wool of a mammoth, puncture its elephantine hide, and go deep enough to reach a major organ.

Well before 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals had spread south from Russia across Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and west to the ocean in Spain. The earlier pre-humans who were prior residents in these areas were simply no match for them. We don't know why the Neanderthals didn't also expand eastward into Asia and exterminate the pre-humans living there as well.

Meanwhile, human evolution continued in Africa. There is some evidence of Homo sapien migration north to the Levant around 100,000 years ago, but it failed to take hold. No other modern human lineage left any trace of successful migration out of Africa. The most likely reason, scientists believe, was the presence of Neanderthals in the Middle East.

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Copyright © 2011 Marshall C. Whitfield