Why is the disappearance of the “Neanderthal” Man 30,000 years ago, significant today? (Part D)

As we have mentioned in Part C of our article ,there have been 4 “major ice ages” in the past, and the Earth is currently experiencing the fourth “major ice age” which began 2.5 million years ago.We also mentioned that within each “major ice age”,there are climatic cycles which last approximately 100,000 years.We have the cycle of glacial advance called “glacial period”,when the Earth,s atmospheric temperature decreases causing glacial advance from the Poles towards the Equator, lasting approximately 60,000 years; then there is a warming cycle called “interglacial period”,when the Earth΄s atmospheric temperature increases and a glacial retreat occurs towards the Poles,lasting approximately 40,000 years.

From geophysical evidence,scientists have calculated that the last Glacial Maximum(lowest atmospheric temperature) ensued approximately 20,000 years ago,while the Earth experienced its initial warming trend or the beginning of an “interglacial period” about 11,000 years ago (p.1-5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age). Therefore,when “Cro-Magnon”Man migrated to Europe from Africa and the Middle East 45,000 years ago,the European Continent was exposed to very low temperatures since it was deep in a “glacial period” when “…Scandinavia and most of the British Isles were permanently covered in ice(In fact of course they were not islands at that time.Great Britain and Ireland were connected to each other and to mainland Europe by land). Switzerland was also permanently coated in ice.Forests only grew in the extreme south of Europe and most of it was covered in tundra or grassland…” (p.1. http:// www.localhistories.org/cro-magnon.html ). I would like here to point out the fact that “Cro-Magnon”Man is anthropologically classified as a “Homo-Sapien”,our direct ancestor.There were “Homo-Sapiens” in Europe, in Asia,in Africa,in America and in other places,while the “Homo-Sapiens” who lived in Europe were named “Cro-Magnon” and they were the ones who came to share the same territory with the Neanderthals.

We therefore have two “human species”,”Neanderthal”Man and “Cro-Magnon”Man sharing the same territory(European Continent) and living under extreme climatic and geophysical conditions.”Neanderthal”Man under exactly the same environmental conditions had a much lower birth rate than “Cro-Magnon”Man ,while he barely survived until the age of 40.”Cro-Magnon”Man΄s life span reached well into the 50s.(p.1. http:// www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/48850.html),while many of this “human specie” lived to a very old age(p.1. http:// earlyhumans.mrdonn.org/cromagnon.html ). Within the next 15,000 years,meaning from 45,000 to 30,000 years ago,”Cro-Magnon”Man expanded and also flourished in the European Continent,while the numbers of “Neanderthal” Man slowly diminished,eventually disappearing completely from the face of the Earth (around 30,000 years ago). But most importantly, “Cro-Magnon” Man became the creator of the first organised human “culture”*.In the previous parts of our article on the “Neanderthal”,we clarified that the “natural supremacy” of the “Cro-Magnon”Man over the “Neanderthal”Man stemmed from the fact that the first had the “ingenuity”,the “drive” and the “inspiration” to utilize all of his or her human “faculties” and “qualities” creatively and effectively,thus enhancing the quality of life of all the members of the group.They were the same “human potentials” which “Neanderthal”Man embodied as a “human specie”, but had almost completely ignored or neglected. Human “faculties” and “qualities” such as “creativity”, “communication”, “imagination”, “inspiration”, “initiative”, “inelligence”, “vision”, “the six senses”, “altruism”, “empathy”, or in a few words, the “affinity” and the “passion” for life,but within the context of “human mortality”. The Neanderthals abstained from their “natural role” and eventually Nature excluded them,while since the beginning of “human civilization”, the “human specie” has alienated itself from its “natural role”, and today we also are very close at being excluded by Mother Nature!!!!!!

By examining Cro-Magnon΄s successes in surviving under extreme environmental conditions,but also in “creating” and “constructing” the first “organized human culture”,we will better understand not only the “instrumental role” that these human “faculties” and “qualities” played in Cro-Magnon΄s human development, but also the reasons for the natural extinction of “Neanderthal”Man and maybe our own future natural extinction.

A very critical attribute of “Cro-Magnon”Man compared to “Neanderthal”Man was the fact that the first was a hunter-gatherer,who moved from place to place ,while “Neanderthal”Man was a hunter of large animals who lived in one place, a cave,close to a constant food source.The fact that the Cro-Magnon traveled all the time,searching for food in the plant and in the animal spheres,produced the ideal conditions for the development of the human language.They would have to communicate and exchange information during the times they met other Cro-Magnon groups who were on the move.This exchange of information through verbal language did not only involve simple facts concerning food sources and safe locations,it also involved an exchange of complex facts such as technological knowhow,social structuring,even the aesthetics of life such as art,music and ceremonies,providing deeper existential human meanings in relation to the Universal.These social activities by “Cro-Magnon”Man slowly refined the human language,which in turn permitted a more efficient and effective social structure and human coexistence(p.1.http://www.helium.com/items/1256887-neanderthal-interaction-with-…).

A very important aspect of a complex and refined language was not only the exchange of vital information but also a “productive” and “harmonious” human cooperation which affected positively the welfare and the quality of life of everyone. With the Cro-Magnon,the dynamics of language and human cooperation also involved the organization of all the members,in order to ensure vital food supplies for the survival of the whole group.We therefore see a division of labour along the lines of gender and age.The men would hunt large animals,while women and children hunted small animals and gathered plants such as fruits and nuts (p.2. http:// www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/12/06/1805278.htm ). In these processes of “cooperation” and “negotiation”,defining roles,duties and activities,”Cro-Magnon”Man as a hunter-gatherer was able to ensure a varied and balanced diet which included meat,grain,wild carrots,beets,onions,turnips(p.2.http://www.newworldencyclopedia. org/entry/Cro-Magnon),as well as seeds,berries,roots,nuts and even ants.They also ate fish.Through this “intelligent” human cooperation using language,the Cro-Magnons could alter their diet according to seasonal changes and to natural challenges which may occur(p.1.http://studyingsocietiesatjhk.pbworks.com/Cro-Magnon).This type of sophisticated cooperation for food resources also affected Cro-Magnon΄s hunting techniques,which included pitfall traps and forcing large animals to fall off cliffs(p.2.http://newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cro_Magnon).

From scientific evidence,we know that Neanderthals did not take care of their women and children;this is apparent from the state of the bones of their skeletons and especially their teeth.The signs become even clearer when examining the skeletons of Neanderthal adolescents of both sexes whom scientists believe did not receive adequate care and nourishment due to separation from parents.What is even more appalling is that there is plenty of evidence which reveals that the powerful Neanderthal males would kill and eat their own group-members,especially the weaker ones,such as the young,when food was scarce(p.1. http:// www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/12/06/1805278.htm ). In contrast,not only was there cooperation among all the members of the Cro-Magnon group,but anthropologists have also found that members who had been seriously injured from various causes,underwent a primitive but delicate type of surgery which healed internal fractures, thus extending that person΄s life span.This pattern of community “support” and “vigilance”,taking care of each other΄s injuries was based on “cooperation” and “negotiation”,but also on a deep human sense of “altruism” and “empathy” towards the other members(p.2.http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cro-Magnon).All these human activities founded on “communication”, “negotiation”, “organization”, “initiative”, “mobility”, “altruism” and “empathy”, created the necessary prerequisites for the Cro-Magnon people to extend their life span,to increase the reproductive years of women and to pemit “…childrearing grandparents to perform the critical job of passing on their society΄s skills and cumulative knowledge to the young…”(p.8.http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_5.htm).

We have already mentioned that the Cro-Magnon people were able to increase their food supply,especially in large animal prey like the wild horse,the mammoth,the reindeer,the red deer and the bison,through “coordinated” group hunting techniques which facilitated the killing of large herds of these animals.What we should mention here is that the “Cro-Magnon”Man also greatly improved the hunting weapons that he used so that he wouldn΄t have to make any physical contact with his prey and risk his life.One of these specialized weapons was the “spear thrower” seen in Figure(a),which was a compound instrument.”…This was a wood or bone rod with a hook on one end that fit into a socket at the base of a spear…” (p.2. http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_5.htm).

The two advantages of this compound weapon was first of all that it boosted the force of the impact of the projectile,but it also expanded the range of the projectile since it practically elongated the length of the arm of the hunter which he used to throw the spear towards his prey.Other specialized weapons which were developed by “Cro-Magnon”Man were the bow and arrow,the harpoon tipped with bone points, hooks and nets for fishing,while in coastal areas they even constructed boats to catch fish more effectively(p.3. http:// www.essays.cc/free_essays/f4/rsk 197.shtml). Some of these weapons are shown in Figure(b).The “inventiveness” and the “innovative” technical abilities of the Cro-Magnon were not only applied in the design and construction of weapons but to a large degree in the skillful treatment and processing of natural materials such as stone,bone,wood and antler in making tools.Efficient tools which greatly helped with the fabrication of weapons,the building of shelters and the manufacture of warm clothes such as trousers,coats and boots from animal skins(p.1. http://www.localhistories.org/cro-magnon. html). Some of these tools were knives, hide scrapers, chisels, drills, awls, burins and bone needles (p.2. http://anthro.palomar.edu/homo2/mod_homo_5.htm).

fig_a_large fig_b_x-large
figure a figure b


One of the most extraordinary technical innovations which “Cro-Magnon”Man produced was the construction of permanent homes which were adaptable to their “nomadic” and “mobile” lifestyle.For this “intelligent” and “complex” human specie of many abilities,caves were the least efficient and practical human shelters within a harsh and inhospitable natural environment.They built permanent winter homes which were used for many years,to protect them from the long harsh winters. These permanent winter homes were built from branches and mammoth bones,covering them with animal skins.The shape of these permanent winter shelters was like the North American Indian tepees with large rocks placed all around the base to hold the structure together.In the summer ,the Cro-Magnon groups constantly moved,following the seasonal migration of the various large animals,so they lived in sturdy large tents which could be moved easily from place to place.As winter approached,they would return to their permanent winter homes(p.1. http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/ LifeScience/Physical A…).

In the next section of our article,we shall examine those universal human elements and factors which not only allowed the “Cro-Magnon”Man to create the first “organised human culture”,but they also provided this extraordinary “human specie” with the incentives and the means to communicate with Νature and the Universe.One last comment.There is a wise old saying which says,”The tortoise can move forward only when it has its neck out of its shell”.It΄s time we thought about it!!!!



*culture-the beliefs,way of life,art,and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society.