Re: Speciation - how do you know?

David Sierra (
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 16:09:21 -0500

On Sun, 6 Oct 1996, Stephen Barnard wrote:

> So why is it impossible that Neanderthals established a hunting niche
> for themselves? What assets could they bring to the table? Far
> superior intelligence. Coordinated, cooperative technique. Long-range
> planning. Possibly language. Possibly most important, cultural
> adaptation over centuries, passing down effective hunting techniques
> from generation to generation. An extremely robust physique by our
> standards.

And look how well of a predator H.s. was (and still is in some places)
with a much less robust physique and similar levels of technology.

I think there is a certain tendancy (and I'm guilty of it as well) to
think that just because our species is currently the dominant one on the
planet (free to debate if you wish), that any other species that was in
our evolutionary background were somehow "lesser" creatures who were some
how less adapted to the enviornment and lacked our basic chapabilities
(otherwise wouldn't they be the dominat species now?).

In fact, this is likely far from the truth. Who knows exactly why H.n
died off and H.s was able to colonize the entire planet? Guesses and
theories abound, but solid answers are in short supply. Is it not logical
to asume such a similar species to our own as H.n would have many of the
same abilities that make us such a dominant force? After all, its not our
physical domination that allowed us to dominate the planet; pound for pound we
compare quite poorly to most of the other species out there. Rather, it
was our intelect that has allowed such a domination. H.n was probably
our near equal in that intelect.

Now, I'm not saying a H.n transported to the 20th century would be able to do
quantum physics, but certainly they possed the ability to work in groups and
fashion tools for spesific uses! The minimum it takes to bring down a large
prey animal is a judicous use of the former and enough of the latter to have
weapons spesifically designed for the hunting of such an animal. And I don't
mean going up and directly killing it either. Rocks thrown from on high work
well, as do driving it over a cliff, or other such creative applications of
applied force. It is not impossible to immagine a group of well armed H.n
working in a tightly organized hunting party using any number of techniques to
bring down a large prey animal. Thats not to say every H.n society did so
(alowing for geographic differences) but that certainly these large
animals formed a substantal part of the diet of certain groups.

Comments? I know they'll be forthcoming!

David Sierra