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How significant were the neandertals to the evolution of anatomically modern humans - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Significance of Neandertals to the Evolution of Anatomically Modern Man The origin of modern man and its relationship with Neandertals has been a topic of great debate in the field of paleo-anthropolgy (Mellars 35). In the past, it was supposed that the Neandertals were the less developed ancestors of modern man…
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How significant were the neandertals to the evolution of anatomically modern humans
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Download file to see previous pages Neandertal fossils date back to 130 000- 30 000 BP throughout the region of Eurasia. Their fossils were morphologically different from modern man in that they were ruggedly built with thick chest (Lahr 130). The Neandertals were very strong and muscular; an adaptation that helped them to survive in tough conditions. According to Hublin, the Neandertals spent most of their lives in caves given that their reign was during a period of long glacial maximum. Although referred to as ancient cavemen, recent archaeological studies have pointed out that the Neandertals were intelligent considering the fact they used stone tools and sometimes fire. (Ponced et al,13767). Thus, new evidence suggests that although the Neandertals were slightly physically different from the anatomically modern man, both shared a lot of characteristics. According to Roebroeks, anatomically modern man came into direct contact with the Neandertals about fifty thousand years ago (p. 438). The neandertals and modern man were forced to compete for the resources available like food and locations (Mellars 103). However, the highly specialized morphology of the Neandertals began working to their disadvantage due the climatic changes. There is no conclusive evidence to ascertain whether modern man was more evolve than the neandertals at this point in history. However, the discovery of cultural items associated with early modern man suggest that indeed, neandertals were less evolved in comparison (Hardy 35). Since both the neandertals and modern man shared diets, the competition for food grew fierce with time. Eventually, the neandertals were pushed towards harsh and less fertile environment which heralded their demise. It should be noted that modern man and neandertals were very similar. Research by Currat pointed out that modern man and neandertals had similar cultures (p. 15129). For instance, both were cognizant of the significance of death and tools of trade were inherited. Although they both had had significant morphological differences, their genetic distinction could still allow for mating to produce offspring that was viable. The possibility of interbreeding between modern man and neandertals may offer insight into the similar traits between the two (Weaver et al 464) . The gene of microcephalin is archeologically attributed to neandertal man. This trait was absent in modern man genome up to approximately one million years ago. Its presence in anatomically modern man thus points out to interbreeding with the neandertals. The gene that allowed for more brain development and intelligence was critical for the existence and survival of modern man (Ponced 1365). This gene was rapidly propagated through the modern man by positive selection and it is now present in a majority of the world population. Thus, it is evident that neandertals passed on some superior genes of brain development to modern man which contributed significantly to their evolution. The intelligence gene was advantageous to the progress and survival of anatomically modern man in a dynamic world. According to Blow et al, further research into the DNA of Neandertals has indicated compellingly that in deed anatomically modern man and neandertals interbred (1367). This conclusion was reached after the study found out that modern man had a gene that helped to develop resistance to virus that was previously found in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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