I just read an opinion piece that appeared in an online publication Sapiens about Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) and whether they made art. I wanted to check out this article because I remember doing some research on Neanderthals when I was carrying out my undergraduate and graduate work, and I thought the consensus way back then was, “Yes, Neanderthals not only made art but they buried their dead with flowers and cared for the sick,” considered by many to be the first indication of human civilization and consciousness as we know it. But it seems that the circles of debate continue to swirl around these issues.
I recall a biological anthropologist by the name of Jean Marie Auel, a successful novel writer, who had written a series of six novels about Neanderthals at the time modern anatomical Homo sapiens were encountering Neanderthal populations. In fact, one of her books caught the attention of Hollywood and a movie was made based upon her series, Clan of the Cave Bear, staring Daryl Hannah (film by the same name – 1986). At the time there were two predominant theories concerning the extinction of Neanderthal populations, one, they were wiped out by modern humans, or two, they met and made love. The fact that we now know modern humans carry Neanderthal genes would indicated that some intermingling between the two populations did take place. The movie and Auel’s series explore these hypotheses and offer explanations for how these, and other, hypotheses about human development might have occurred.
So check out this recent article and opinion piece by Bruce Hardy and explore some of the fascinating aspects of our human anatomical and cultural development!