Neanderthals' failure to make parkas may have sealed their demise

August 4, 2016 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report

Comparison of Modern Human and Neanderthal skulls from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Credit: DrMikeBaxter/Wikipedia
(Phys.org)—A quartet of researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada has found evidence that suggests that the reason early humans were able to survive the ice age while the Neanderthal perished is because humans figured out how to make parka-like clothing to keep warm and Neanderthals did not. In a paper published in Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Mark Collard, Lia Tarle, Dennis Sandgathe and Alexander Allan describe their study of camp site evidence from both groups and offer some ideas on why just one group was able to survive.

As scientists continue to explore why humans managed to survive to the modern age while other hominids did not, new evidence has emerged that suggests at least one of them: Neanderthals might have perished because they were not able to sufficiently warm themselves using animal fur.

The study consisted of analyzing data describing campsites used by and Neanderthals and then comparing the two to find similarities or differences. One major difference they noted was the lack of the type of animal remains around Neanderthal sites that would have suggested they were used to make warm clothes. In sharp contrast, the researchers found multiple examples of animals such as fox, rabbit, or mink—and particularly Wolverine—remains around 56 early campfires, all of which could have been skinned to allow for use in creating a fur coat or parka. The finding of Wolverine remains was of particular note because it is the same animal that people living in the Arctic in modern times turn to keep warm because it works so well as a liner and fringe around the hood.

Reconstruction of Neanderthal man. Credit: public domain

The researchers also note that other evidence of humans crafting warm clothes has been found as well, such as bone needles for sewing and other tools that could be used to scrape pelts. Also, a set of figurines wearing parka-like coats and dating back approximately 24,000 years was found in Siberia. No such of Neanderthals wearing crafted clothes has ever been found.

As to why the Neanderthals would not have crafted clothes to survive the cold, the researchers suggest they may have lacked the intelligence or simply because their cultural traditions were standing in the way.

Explore further: Analysis of bones found in Romania offer evidence of human and Neanderthal interbreeding in Europe

More information: Faunal evidence for a difference in clothing use between Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, In Press, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2016.07.010 , http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278416516300757

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huckmucus
4.1 / 5 (10) Aug 04, 2016
I call BS.
F111F
1 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2016
Who said fashion wasn't important?
Pooua
5 / 5 (6) Aug 04, 2016
This suggestion that Neanderthals perished because they didn't make warm clothing is very odd. Supposedly, Neanderthals lived for several thousands of years in Ice Age Europe, and conferred on modern humans genes adapted for living in cold climates. It was only as the climate warmed and modern humans migrated into their spaces that Neanderthals eventually went extinct. Other studies suggest that Neanderthals could not survive on rabbits, as they needed more calories to catch them than the rabbits provided. So, no surprise that such small animals were not around their campfires. Perhaps Neanderthals fared better by making clothes from large mammals, which went extinct?
ElectricBoobVerses
Aug 04, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
4.1 / 5 (9) Aug 04, 2016
Good comments on the long term survival et cetera. Yes, the science and the article seems to ride on the usual Neanderthal stereotypes.

Neanderthal specialist John Hawks claim both human subgroups, Neanderthals and "modern humans" had much the same technological level when they met, and that no single factor can describe the anthropological data of the period.

No doubt the Neanderthals thought differently, but we have much less data on them than on the massive influx of modern humans (10 times as many). From genome data it now - arguably - looks like Neanderthals were simply assimilated, we mated as one group, and their inferior alleles could simply have vanished faster than their cultural influence may have. If so there is no big mystery here, it went as it usually goes between humans, the largest group has the most influence when they merge.
CocoaJackson
4.3 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2016
'researchers suggest they may have lacked the intelligence or simply because their cultural traditions were standing in the way'

Interesting comment, because 'cultural traditions' of Abrahamic religions are standing in the way of our species evolution of values in this era.

Are there parallels now?

Particularly since we have been in control of our biological evolution since the 1920s with lengthening the human life span using science.

rrrander
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 05, 2016
Aside from wiping out a race, it's been said in a broad theory that the reason the people in the southern hemisphere failed to evolve and develop like those in the northern hemisphere was that failing to innovate didn't mean they would freeze to death as in the north. You can see evidence of this happening today in Hawaii which has one of the largest populations of indigent people in the U.S. Easy to survive with temps always in the livable range.
richk
5 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2016
I understand the evidence of inter-breeding is conclusive, so I don't get it: they didn't notice what the H.S.'s were wearing to their dates?
RobertKarlStonjek
5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2016
If the Neanderthals lived from 600,000 to 40,000 years ago they would have lived through several ice ages, why did they perish in the last one for want of fur booties ??

See this chart of ice ages
http://www.divedi...line.gif
CocoaJackson
1.5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2016
'Aside from wiping out a race...' rrrander

Neanderthals were not a race, they were a species of hominid.
Current genomics has verified there are and were no races of homo sapiens - humans. Race is no more than a social construct of discrimination; as such it scientifically inaccurate
EnricM
5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2016
You can see evidence of this happening today in Hawaii which has one of the largest populations of indigent people in the U.S. Easy to survive with temps always in the livable range.


Well, I would invite you to take your best summer clothes and visit Ushuaia to find out by yourself how easy it is to survive in the temperatures of the Southern Hemisphere ;) And give greet the penguins on my behalf ;)

torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2016
@rrander: Empires like the Inca arose south of the equator, while many of the largest empires arose in hot regions like the Egypt/Sudan and Cambodian empires - the latter spawning the largest medieval city in the world. I doubt heat has anything to do with productivity.

More likely the Asia/Europe landmass took advantage of having plants and animals that could be used throughout (same latitudes).

@Cocoa: Whether or not Neanderthals were a separate species or a sub-species (that could be a trait analog to 'races' within husbandry) is an open question, I think. The latest genome models that implies mating as one population when N. and "moderns" met in Europe implies - in my layman understanding - they were insufficiently diverged to be a separate species, not much of a breeding barrier.

But I don't know if anyone has gone over the new data implications in that regard.
huckmucus
5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2016
I propose a new protocol in the sciences: If you have an idea, run it up the flag pole on the internet and let folks poke holes in it before spending countless hours and untold money researching it. You might refine your idea and save yourself a lot of time and money, not to mention embarrassment.

In the instant case, the burden would not be upon the readers to show why certain evidence was missing from the N sites but, rather, the burden would remain on the scientist to prove why N survived so many colder periods without that evidence.
jonesdave
3 / 5 (6) Aug 05, 2016
......He said God has healed me already because of my faith. I was cure after Using the oil and prayers.


It didn't say 'snake oil' on the bottle, did it?
Moltvic
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2016
Another day, another Neanderthal theory...

"The Neanderthal's inability to form a centralized banking system and promote consumerism may have sealed their demise".
CocoaJackson
not rated yet Aug 07, 2016
@Cocoa: 'Whether or not Neanderthals were a separate species or a sub-species (that could be a trait analog to 'races' within husbandry) is an open question, I think'

I agree, torbjorn_b_g_larsson

A subspecies is my take. Thanks for the comment, as my meaning wasn't clear

However, Neanderthals are not a 'race', as this concept is a social construction of homo-sapiens evolution of values.
What is interesting is, some using discriminatory language apply the term 'subspecies' to any humans outside their social, ethnic or family group implying race

@torbjorn_b_g_larsson 'But I don't know if anyone has gone over the new data implications in that regard'

All I could recommend is scanning for Craig Venter, as his opinion on our species is quite extensive. Keywords are; Craig Venter on Race & Science
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2016
Perhaps Neanderthals fared better by making clothes from large mammals, which went extinct?
So did they find remains of these extinct animals around their camp sites?

Before you postulate you ought to do a little research.
huckmucus
not rated yet Aug 09, 2016
Perhaps Neanderthals fared better by making clothes from large mammals, which went extinct?
So did they find remains of these extinct animals around their camp sites?


The article says no remains of small animals around their campsites. If there were no remains of large mammals around their campsites does that mean they were vegetarians? The absence of either says nothing about clothing made of animal skin. The remains of large mammals are often left near the kill. Their hides, in pieces, would be lugged back home.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2016
The article says no remains of small animals around their campsites
Correct. Which means the scientists would expect to find them if they were being used to make clothes. Same goes for remains of large animals.
The absence of either says nothing about clothing made of animal skin
The experts say it does. Can you figure out why?
The remains of large mammals are often left near the kill. Their hides, in pieces, would be lugged back home
What remains do you think the scientists are talking about? Bones? Hides? Sinew?

Youre making things up.
huckmucus
5 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2016
Youre making things up.


I'm not making anything up. Use logic. No small animals. So what? No large animals. So what? No needles, no sinew, no whatever. That does not mean no cloths. The absence of evidence does equal evidence of absence. Since they are known to hunt larger animals then they probably wore larger animal hide. I already explained why larger animal remains are less likely to be found at home (unless the home itself is made of them; and that does not go to the clothing issue).
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2016
No small animals. So what? No large animals. So what? No needles, no sinew, no whatever.
"Scientists have also recovered scrapers and awls (larger stone or bone versions of the sewing needle that modern humans use today) associated with animal bones at Neanderthal sites. A Neanderthal would probably have used a scraper to first clean the animal hide, and then used an awl to poke holes in it, and finally use strips of animal tissue to lace together a loose-fitting garment. Neanderthals were the first early humans to wear clothing, but it is only with modern humans that scientists find evidence of the manufacture and use of bone sewing needles to sew together tighter fitting clothing"

-These are called facts. They are available on the internet. It is advisable to look up a few of them before deciding to make them up yourself.

Being scientists, they are well aware of the above facts. The conclusion is that large animal skins are inadequate for warmth.
huckmucus
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2016
-These are called facts. They are available on the internet. It is advisable to look up a few of them before deciding to make them up yourself.


This is where your analytic and critical reading skills have failed you. As well as your logic. Show me a fact I made up by myself. Indeed, I have not talked about facts. I have talked about the *absence* of facts and the leaps that have been made based upon the absence.

Here's how logic works: No evidence of fine-materials working tools (or small animal bones). Yet they survived much worse and much colder for millennia. Now these "scientists" leap to the notion that a failure to make adequate clothing somehow lead to their demise. Conclusion false.

P.S. Anyone who thinks N didn't kill and eat small animals, notwithstanding a lack of evidence, probably hasn't spent much time in survival situations. Yet they are usually quick to point out cannibalism.
sissiboo
not rated yet Aug 11, 2016
Difficult to believe in the 200,000 year history of Neanderthals, that not once did a shivering sophont not wrap him/herself in the skin of a nice furry animal. Sounds like drivel to me. There still seems to be an inherent element of racism in certain people toward Neanderthals. These were very bright, tough survivors who survived considerably longer than modern humans. Unfair to compare us to the dying embers of a stagnant and nearly dead Neanderthal civilization.
sissiboo
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2016
Another question occurs. What about the African history of Neanderthals. We never hear about that. Levant, yes. Africa not a peep.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2016
Difficult to believe in the 200,000 year history of Neanderthals, that not once did a shivering sophont not wrap him/herself in the skin of a nice furry animal
They did. Read the thread. Do a little research.

They never learned to use the right animals, which is the jist of the article.
Another question occurs. What about the African history of Neanderthals. We never hear about that. Levant, yes. Africa not a peep
-Thats because

"Neanderthal fossils have not been found to date in Africa"

-and also because you didnt bother to look it up and answer some of your own questions.
antigoracle
not rated yet Aug 11, 2016
It's astonishing what passes peer review. The Neanderthals obviously survived several ice ages prior to the arrival of humans, so what else changed?
They might as well have concluded the Neanderthals were so envious of humans in their parkas that they didn't want to live anymore.
huckmucus
not rated yet Aug 11, 2016
It's astonishing what passes peer review. The Neanderthals obviously survived several ice ages prior to the arrival of humans, so what else changed?
They might as well have concluded the Neanderthals were so envious of humans in their parkas that they didn't want to live anymore.


This ^^^^
huckmucus
not rated yet Aug 11, 2016
They never learned to use the right animals, which is the jist of the article.


How far north did they get, how high in elevation, and how-cold-for-how-long did it get in periods during the 200,000 years before their demise? Could they have survived that having never learned to use the right animals? Those are the questions the article should include and address. I think that is all anyone is saying.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2016
Eskimos are cromags. Neanderthals are extinct.
huckmucus
not rated yet Aug 11, 2016
Eskimos are cromags. Neanderthals are extinct.


This is true. But clothing had nothing to do with the latter.

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