Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Other Human

For a change of pace from the political arena...
This month's National Geographic has a very interesting article about the other humans who lived upon our planet, The Neanderthals. We know so little about the development of our species. Searching for information on it, will bring you many theories. Most agree though, that the human species, in one form or another have been around for a couple million years... Yet we have so little information on their evolutionary process to modern day man. Reading this very interesting article will make you acknowledge how vulnerable life is. So many species have come and gone and we have barely scratched the surface of realizing their existence. Perhaps we will never learn completely how life formed upon our planet and how we got to where we are today, but there's one fact for sure; Science will endure and will never give up its quest to bring us answers. National Geographic is a good way to keep up with new scientific discovery. http://www.thethinkingblue.com

National Geographic's
Last of the Neanderthals

CLICK TO SEE LARGER

Eurasia was theirs alone for 200,000 years.
Then the newcomers arrived.

By Stephen S. Hall

Reconstruction by Kennis & Kennis/Photograph by Joe McNally





In March of 1994 some spelunkers exploring an extensive cave system in northern Spain poked their lights into a small side gallery and noticed two human mandibles jutting out of the sandy soil. The cave, called El Sidrón, lay in the midst of a remote upland forest of chestnut and oak trees in the province of Asturias, just south of the Bay of Biscay. Suspecting that the jawbones might date back as far as the Spanish Civil War, when Republican partisans used El Sidrón to hide from Franco's soldiers, the cavers immediately notified the local Guardia Civil.

But when police investigators inspected the gallery, they discovered the remains of a much larger—and, it would turn out, much older—tragedy.

Within days, law enforcement officials had shoveled out some 140 bones, and a local judge ordered the remains sent to the national forensic pathology institute in Madrid. By the time scientists finished their analysis (it took the better part of six years), Spain had its earliest cold case. The bones from El Sidrón were not Republican soldiers, but the fossilized remains of a group of Neanderthals who lived, and perhaps died violently, approximately 43,000 years ago. The locale places them at one of the most important geographical intersections of prehistory, and the date puts them squarely at the center of one of the most enduring mysteries in all of human evolution.

The Neanderthals, our closest prehistoric relatives, dominated Eurasia for the better part of 200,000 years. During that time, they poked their famously large and protruding noses into every corner of Europe, and beyond—south along the Mediterranean from the Strait of Gibraltar to Greece and Iraq, north to Russia, as far west as Britain, and almost to Mongolia in the east. Scientists estimate that even at the height of the Neanderthal occupation of western Europe, their total number probably never exceeded 15,000. Yet they managed to endure, even when a Cooling climate turned much of their territory into something like northern Scandinavia today—a frigid, barren tundra, its bleak horizon broken by a few scraggly trees and just enough lichen to keep the reindeer happy.

By the time of the tragedy at El Sidrón, however, the Neanderthals were on the run, seemingly pinned down in Iberia, pockets of central Europe, and along the southern Mediterranean by a deteriorating climate, and further squeezed by the westward spread of anatomically modern humans as they emerged from Africa into the Middle East and beyond. Within another 15,000 years or so, the Neanderthals were gone forever, leaving behind a few bones and a lot of questions. Were they a clever and perseverant breed of survivors, much like us, or a cognitively challenged dead end? What happened during that period, roughly 45,000 to 30,000 years ago, when the Neanderthals shared some parts of the Eurasian landscape with those modern human migrants from Africa? Why did one kind of human being survive, and the other disappear? READ MORE CLICK HERE




Neanderthal Man



The discovery of the Neanderthal Man, originally believed to be a possible
ancestor of Homo Sapiens. DNA testing showed that they were in fact a seperate
species from us, one who shared a common ancestor with a Hominid who lived in
Africa some 500,000 years ago.

THE HISTORY CHANNEL

More Pictures Click Here

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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