Music to some ears this: According to a recent article in the boston Globe, Neanderthal man died out because Neanderthal woman had to help him hunt.
The Neanderthal extinction some 30,000 years ago remains one of the great riddles of evolution, with rival theories blaming everything from genocide committed by “real” humans to prehistoric climate change.
But a recent study introduces another explanation: Stone Age feminism. Among Neanderthals, hunting big beasts was women’s work as well as men’s, so it’s a safe bet that female hunters got stomped, gored, and worse with appalling frequency. And a high casualty rate among fertile women – the vital “reproductive core” of a tiny population – could well have meant demographic disaster for a species already struggling to survive among monster bears, yellow-fanged hyenas, and cunning Homo sapien newcomers.
The current claim (November 10, 2007) is,
Almost as provocatively, a husband-wife anthropological team has raised the possibility that female derring-do may have contributed to Neanderthals’ demise.
The University of Arizona’s Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, use archeological evidence to argue that Neanderthal females – unlike Homo sapien women of the Upper Paleolithic period – joined men in hunts at a time when stabbing giant beasts with a sharpish stone affixed to a stick represented the cutting edge of technology.
That’s courageous, but probably bad practice for a population that never numbered much more than 10,000 individuals. The loss of a few males to a flailing hoof or slashing antler is no big deal, in the long run. But losing females of child-bearing age could bring doom to a hard-pressed species.
I think the Neanderthals died out because Neanderthal man never took out the garbage. That’s got to be the reason for sure because no one could LIVE like that!
More seriously, I still don’t understand why Neanderthal women didn’t fish, which is way safer and more convenient than hunting. Few fish are dangerous, and none are smart.
Well, maybe they did, and that’ll be the next big revelation ….