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Since its initial discovery in Germany's Neander Valley in 1848, Homo neandertalensis, the Neandertal, had undergone quite a dubious reputation. From sensationalist beginnings as big, hairy apes, they had, for the longest time, become the stereotypical caveman--big-boned, brutish and all-out primitive.

But in recent years, the image had undergone a renaissance. We have found evidence pointing out possibilities of omnivory (evidence of chewing medicinal plants), arbitration (art used for purposes that aren't necessarily practical) and even display construction (The Astonishing Age of a Neandertal Cave in France).

So culturally, technologically and dietarily, Neandertals were no different from us. So why did they vanish 30,000 years ago?

We can't say with 100% certainty. The most traditional assumption is that their brutish appearance, actually a necessity to deal with the hostile, frigid environment of Ice Age Europe, made them too specialized to deal with change. Maybe it was our sexual joie de vivre that bred them into extinction, absorbing their genes into ours. (Which would make sense, considering that 1-4% of Eurasia's genetic population was found to come from Neandertals.)

But perhaps the most overlooked reason may be that they never expanded their social structures beyond clans (small groups tied together by descent.) Their particularly small population densities meant that they could not expand their numbers to the extent that tribes do.

But let's say they do.

In this alternate scenario, Neandertals ruled Europe in a higher population density, numerically, culturally and technologically akin to Native American or African tribes. When Homo sapiens made their first steps to Europe to cross paths with Neandertal towns or villages, would this change the course of genetic admixture between species in any way?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by o.m., Hohmannfan, Aify, Mołot, Frostfyre Nov 22 '16 at 13:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ To answer your question: "Yes." But how exactly these changes play out is a wild guess. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Nov 22 '16 at 7:14
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since we are not exactly sure how the intermixing occurred it could go either way. The more voluntary it was the more mixing there will be in your hypothetical. Assuming the altered neandertal are technologically similar then they may just end up as rather distinct human "race" with normal intermingling we see today.

One aspect you may have to consider is that it appears there was a difference in technological progression with sapiens just advancing faster, although this could be an illusion created by having less insular tribes, or it could be true and due to nothing more than a difference in tribe size. If they really did advance slower, than we would see the same slow replacement. Really there is enough evidence either way to support whichever you prefer.

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