The Humans Who Went Extinct

The Humans Who Went Extinct

Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived

Book - 2009
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Just 28,000 years ago, the blink of an eye in geological time, the last of Neanderthals died out in their last outpost, in caves near Gibraltar. Thanks to cartoons and folk accounts we have a distorted view of these other humans - for that is what they were. We think of them as crude andclumsy and not very bright, easily driven to extinction by the lithe, smart modern humans that came out of Africa some 100,000 years ago.But was it really as simple as that? Clive Finlayson reminds us that the Neanderthals were another kind of human, and their culture was not so very different from that of our own ancestors. In this book, he presents a wider view of the events that led to the migration of the moderns into Europe,what might have happened during the contact of the two populations, and what finally drove the Neanderthals to extinction. It is a view that considers climate, ecology, and migrations of populations, as well as culture and interaction.pa href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427335.800-bad-luck-neanderthals.html" target="_blank"Why did our species survive the Neanderthals? Article featured in New Scientist/a/pHis conclusion is that the destiny of the Neanderthals and the Moderns was sealed by ecological factors and contingencies. It was a matter of luck that we survived and spread while the Neanderthals dwindled and perished. Had the climate not changed in our favour some 50 million years ago, thingswould have been very different.There is much current research interest in Neanderthals, much of it driven by attempts to map some of their DNA. But it's not just a question of studying the DNA. The rise and fall of populations is profoundly moulded by the larger scale forces of climate and ecology. And it is only by taking thiswider view that we can fully understand the course of events that led to our survival and their demise. The fact that Neanderthals survived until virtually yesterday makes our relationship with them and their tragedy even more poignant. They almost made it, after all.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9780199239184
0199239185
Characteristics: xi, 273 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.

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srmechs Dec 11, 2014

A comprehensive look at the interrelationships of environment, evolution and the survival of our species. It includes but does not focus upon the Neanderthals. I found it absorbing and informative very well written.

Unlike the flyleaf recommendations, I did find this book a bit of a slog to read. It is very scientific but fascinating reading and I will, in future, hear news of new archeological finds of evindence of human evolution with different mind set. The hypothesis is that we evolved from several branches of proto-humans and that several other branches went extinct because they were in the wrong environment when the earth's ecology began to change. Most important question, when the earth's weather and ecology change again, will our species be able to survive. Do we have enough survival skills to live in a harsh environment after a global catastrophy which could wipe out 99% of the human race?

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