Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In a Hole in the Ground, There Lived a Neanderthal

So, I've been watching Walking with Cavemen with my kids as a way to keep some science learning going, despite the disruptions of the testing weeks. We finally made it to the section about Neanderthal Man, the much maligned failed evolutionary offshoot of humanity (though, interestingly enough, there are signs that even as it was dying out, Neanderthal man was mating into the lines that would eventually produce modern humans). As we were watching, something occurred to me:

Neanderthals are hobbits.

  • Short? Check.
  • Stocky? Check.
  • Omnivorous? Check.
  • Tough as all hell? Check.
  • Cave-dwelling? Check.
  • Essentially human in the ways they think and act? Check.

I can easily see how, if Neanderthal Man had not died out, they might have cleaned up in much the same way as the humans they coexisted with. Their musculoskeletal system would have slimmed down and their brains continued to advance as their ecological niche increasingly selected for smarts rather than brawn. They could easily have stayed short and tough when compared to humans. Why develop an easy-going disposition? Why not?

Anyway, just a weird little thought that occured to me, and I'm eager to hear what you think of it (hence the creative prompt tag).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Alternatively they could've continued to mate with humans and eventually they'd've become so cross-bred they'd be commonplace, sort of like the labradoodle... or the humans could've decided that as an inferior species they should be dominated and enslaved, similar to the Africans years later.