Neanderthals and The Relationship to Modern Humans
One may ask, what is the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans? Many seem to think that Neanderthals were a different kind of species. Hominid from Homo sapiens also referred to as Homo neanderthalensis, which has been determined to evolve from the Homo erectus forms in Europe and have seemed to have died off when modern humans emerged (Park, 1999 pg412). Others see Neanderthals as a subspecies or some kind of biological race. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis differentiated only by geographical isolation, but at the same time they still contributed to modern humans. Physically, Neanderthals were different looking, with longer heads, more robust bones, even slightly bigger brains; these adaptations are thought to be adaptations to the cold periglacial climate that they lived in (Pettitt, 2000 pg 351-366). Where as compared to modern humans, these physical characteristics were not present, since they did not have to worry about such cold periglacial climates. When compared to modern humans, also known as Homo sapiens, Neanderthals did not have the same cognitive abilities to comprehend and develop a system of speech, the way modern humans have done (Fagan, 2009 pg92). Modern humans are able to pass on stories, knowledge, and ideas to one another through speech, which is something Neanderthals lacked. If Neanderthals were able to use their brains the way modern humans can, it would have changed everything about Neanderthals and scientist wouldn’t have thought of them as being stupid people. For example, Fagan writes, “some people still use the word Neanderthal to describe dim-witted, ugly people who are like apes, an insult aimed at those they consider dumb” (Fagan, 2009 pg85). When in reality, Neanderthals were actually pretty smart, they were able to adapt to the climate changes and were expert hunters (Fagan, 2009 pg85). Socially, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis were considered more advanced, in...
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