Re: Speciation - how do you know?

Stephen Barnard (
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 18:30:17 -0800

Paul Crowley wrote:
> In article <>
> "Stephen Barnard" writes:
> > I would like to ask Paul Crowley why he thinks Neanderthals were so
> > robust. There must have been a reason. It's reasonable to speculate
> > that it was due to their lifestyle.
> I've no problem about people making speculations; I've made more
> than enough in this newgroup.

That is true enough. I'm glad that you recognize it.

> It's just that IMHO the standard one
> about Neanderthal lifestyles is really bad. If we get it out of our
> minds maybe we can think about other possibilities. What have we got?
> (a) they lived in a cold climate; (b) they weren't built for speed or
> lots of running; (c) they often seem to have peculiar tooth wear.
> -- I can't do anything with this.
> > Maybe they were immensely strong so
> > they could turn over boulders to find grubs? Not likely. Maybe they
> > were into bodybuilding contests? Less likely. How can you explain the
> > many bone fractures found in their fossils?
> Sorry, I don't have any explanations. Should I?

So you don't have explanations. That's fine with me. Nevertheless,
their immensely roboust physique crys out for an explanation.

> But what would you do if you and some heavily-built friends found
> yourself having to survive in, say, a well-wooded environment with
> a Mediteranean climate using Neanderthal type tools? I'd bet that
> chasing(?) aurochs or other fast quadrupeds would be a long way down
> the list, if it was in it at all.
> Maybe they had to be that strong to hold off bears, using stones and
> clubs as weapons. (Wild hypothesis #1131).

If my friends and I found ourselves suddenly caught in the environment
you describe we would be nothing like a tribe of Neanderthals. They
presumably (according to the speculation that I favor) had many
thousands of years to develop an effective hunting technique, capable of
bringing down formidible animals.

Look, no one knows the truth. I'm inclined to believe that they were
effective hunters of large animals, and I believe that such a lifestyle
explains their physique. You don't believe it. I can live with that.
Someday we may find out.

Steve Barnard