As postulated by Erik Trinkaus, paleontologist and Neanderthal expert at Washington University in St. Louis. He’s just published a paper on the subject. The link above is to an interview with him that’s posted on the website of the Archaeological Institute of America. Here’s an excerpt:
If you look at the literature in human paleontology over the last five years, there are numerous articles that are trying to explain why Neanderthals are different. They’re trying to analyze features of the Neanderthals that appear different or weird, in some cases to understand them biologically, in some cases simply to document that they’re different. There is virtually nothing in that same literature that tries to document why it is that modern humans are different from the previous 2 million years of human evolution. In other words, the question people are asking is not, “Why did modern humans evolve the anatomy we have?” What people are asking is, “Why do we have this weird group of humans who lived in Europe and the Near East that we call Neanderthals?”
If he’s right, modern man is actually an offshoot that managed to prevail — as, meanwhile, the main trunk of our evolutionary lineage failed.
Bizarre. And yet — not.
(Trinkaus has been assembling evidence to support this idea for three decades btw. Phew.)
[tags] anthropology, Neanderthals [/tags]