Re: Speciation-how do you know?

Phillip Bigelow (
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 18:15:17 -0700

T&B Schmal wrote:
> In article <>,
> (Brent Ermlick) wrote:
> > 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).

> If, when the ice melted and the
> vegetation appeared but the Neanderthal didn't know how to take advantage
> of it, the way would be open for another people, a people who knew how to
> gather, to gain ascendance. Maybe this is what happened?

The problem with this is that, assuming your claim is
true, neanderthals were never-the-less STILL quite successful in
their northern niche. Keep in mind that neanderthals go back nearly
200,000 years (and probably much earlier than that).
The last of them died out around 30Ka.
If neanderthals were unsuccessful in their environment, then they
were "unsuccessful" for at least 170,000 years! Surviving 170,000
years (roughly 3,400,000 reproductive generations) in a northern
tundra-like climate (with a few warmer glacial interstades
thrown-in) makes neanderthals pretty successful as a group.
Competition with H.s.s. probably led to neanderthal's demise, but
it only takes a SLIGHTLY different lifestyle (even something as
minor as cultural differences) for one group to wipe out
another group.
In other words, neanderthals may have been very good hunters,
and foliage foragers, and defenders, but H.s.s. was probably
slightly better at it.
It only takes a flea to tip a scale; you don't need an elephant
to sit on it.