Re: Speciation - how do you know?

Brent Ermlick (
Wed, 9 Oct 1996 11:41:43 GMT

Paul Crowley ( wrote:

. . .

: I think you've put forward as good a case as can be made for
: "hunting Neanderthals". But I don't think it works in the end;
: the logistics aren't right. I'd accept that they would be
: opportunist animal killers if, say, they came across a crippled
: deer, but that's not the issue. The question is 'Were they
: skilled "professional" hunters?'. Or 'Was hunting how they got
: a significant part of their diet?' If it was, they would have
What other sources of food would be available in the middle of
the winter in the middle of a glacial period? The conditions were
at least as bad as the conditions in the polar regions that Eskimoes
currently inhabit. Non-animal food just isn't available for much
of the year (at least for us primates who can't digest grass and
who don't get much benefit from moss). Slugs and snails aren't a
useful alternative in the middle of the current mild European winters
either. To store up enough vegetable food during the short growing
season to last the winter would require intensive agriculture. Long
distance migrations to arctic oyster beds from central Europe isn't
very likely either. So what else would they eat? Tree bark?
Pine needles?

. . .

: Compare these putative hunters to a pride of lions. They have
: everything, including sprinting speed. Lions do not find life that
: easy. They never adapted to Europe (AFAIK). The prey is too rare
You're forgetting about the European lion. The European lion seems
to have gone into decline about the time that European populations
were expanding in the Neolithic, and to have gone extinct at the
end of the European Bronze Age. The Greek myths have the lion as
a favorite target of local heroes (or bullies). But at the time in
question, the European lion was doing very well -- probably because
of the availability of large populations of large herbivores.

. . .

: In a group of 40, you'd only have 8 or fewer mature males. So
I'd assume a bit more than that -- teenagers of 14 or so would
be mature enough for the purposes of a hunting party, and would also
be less cautious members of the party.

: your group has to be much larger. Even then the rate of death
: or serious injury would seem much too high. Comparing with other
A lot of those broken bones look like very serious injuries to me.

: predators (assuming H.n. was a predator) such as lions, the risk
: of serious injury has to be much lower. H.n.'s lifespan is much
: longer and the replacement of a mature male would have been much
: slower and more costly.

: Paul.

Brent J. Ermlick (407)331-6625