Our Cousins

neanderthal1I stumbled on this relatively recent recreation of a Neanderthal and it’s striking (1) just how good we are at doing lifelike recreations and (2) how much like us we now understand the Neanderthals to be. I’m not really up on paleontology but I understand there are distinct differences about how we out to classify Neanderthals (as a subset of homo sapiens or as another hominid altogether) as well as what happened to them. Did we absorb them by breeding or did we kill them off. Ronald Wright asked this question in A Short History of Progress and the implications for who we are are fascinating yet disturbing. Are we hard-wired for genocide?

I sort of put that aside, but this image is striking, it made me think of that again. If we were killing off the Neanderthals, we certainly were not killing some hideous other, but rather people who to our paleolithic forebears must have appeared as darn near identical.


15 responses to “Our Cousins

  1. i have to say, i honestly wish i looked like that. i find that boy-if he continues in looks how he is-would have gown to be far more attractive than any boy i’ve seen so far.

  2. For me, it does have nothing to do with whether this boy looks somewhat handsome or not that we swept out them from the planet on which they had as much saying as we do now. From this point of view, I come to the point of thinking how useful the humanization is such as codes of ethics, moral values, and regulatory laws.

  3. How do you know this is a ‘lifelike recreation’ if you have never seen a Neanderthal?

  4. It’s lifelike in that the model looks like a living hominid as opposed to a glorified department store mannequin.

  5. You say you can’t understand how early humans could have killed off people that were obviously so much like them, but in the same breath you wondersif “we” aren’t “hard-wired for genocide”!

    Who have humans committed genocide upon, if not precisely people who are so much like themselves??

    And you also make the distinction of a “hideous other” so facile — are Native Americans or Africans (or as the Japanese were concerned in the 30s, the Chinese) really that hideous, that other? Were European Jews really so other or so hideous to other Europeans?

    In making the assumption that such a distinction is so recognizable — ie, your implied appeal to “common sense” — you prove how easily the distinction can be made, and how easy it is for our species to murder and brutalize absolutely anyone and any (so-called) thing.

  6. Gordon,

    I think all of those points are obvious. The “hideous other” is a creation of the imagination in most cases – look at the depictions of Jews in Nazi propaganda, or Tutsis by the Hutu militia during the Rwandan genocide.

    We do not have actually existing Neanderthals, but we do have sketches of them, most of which are sorts of what Ronald Wright calls “paleo-racism” where the Neanderthal gets the same treatment as various rival ethnic groups have given each other over time.

  7. David Teh Gnome

    Honestly…. is there a single topic regarding modern mans interest in untangling some of the many perceived, possible, historical and or evolutionary plot holes concerning bi-pedal, tool-using mammals, their origin, destiny, promise, demise and what have you, that isn’t sure to be cheapened by skewed holocaust dogma spouting trolls???

    I mean here we are talking about what to me and I don’t think I’m alone on this one is a fascinating area of discussion. Some say these Neanderthals were killed off by competing tribes of humans, others espouse they were bred into today’s human population. Others say only certain segments bred with them and today remain the sole carriers of their genetic lineage.

    Then there’s the arguments over which tribe today carries on that bloodline should it exist. Is it these guys over here or those other guys from over there, and which reconstruction of neanderthal is the correct base to go off of? There has to be at least like 50 completely structurally unique versions of what these characters looked like. The one in this article makes me think white Europeans may have mixed with ancient neanderthal. Others recreations look like straight up Inuit, some pacific Islanders and others a giant mish mash of who knows what. And then again in the end they may very well have simply died off.

    Basically it is a big plot hole in mans history, it begs to be hashed out by rational scientists, not bound by ethnic agendas. Who are we today, what is our true nature, our genetic destiny in this world? If we cannot know who we once were how can we possibly hope to make the right decisions regarding what we currently believe ourselves to be?

    So please don’t sully this grand debate with such biased ramblings about the Nazi genocide of the jews. First the jews called them Nazi’s, they were National Socialist’s. Referring to them as Nazi’s is not the path for a truthful person as it is a slur against them. They were the German people before, during and after the war, to call them anything else is to dehumanize their character.

    In addition there are no mass graves of these “millions” of murdered jews, however I can’t help but notice those spouting this false rhetoric always fail to mention the 40-50 million white Christians murdered under Jewish Bolshevik rule during the same time. And these victims are consistently unearthed unlike this holocaust thing of which you speak.

    Plus if I wanted to hear about this mass gassing affair that doesn’t even make least bit of sense, I could just turn on my T.V. or listen to the radio, read a book, or go see this weeks blockbuster movie about it.

    I don’t think it is that much to ask that there exist possibly one or two places in reasonable debate or study propagandists don’t feel the need to remind us about this crazy fair tail.

    Or just keep doing it at your current pace and watch it blow up in your face, either way I dont think you communist semetics have the restraint needed to pull off such a devious yet delicate assault on the minds of good people without getting what you deserve. And no for the record that is not genocide, we do not punish others in kind as it is pointless to become a monster in order to stop one.

    Guy who started on point but damned if going off on the jews in diatribe form isn’t pretty damn satisfying, and regrets nothing 🙂

    P.S. Theres more like me on the way

  8. David Teh [sic] Gnome,

    No one talked about the Nazis quite so much as you. Now I’d suggest you could better spend your time seeing if you can fit your tinfoil hat on underneath you white hood.

    Oh, and the Bolsheviks were headed by a former Christian seminary student during the time of the Nazis, one Iosif Dzhugashvili.

  9. The reason for these kinds of speculation (red hair and blue eyes) is that Europeans still cannot believe they are from the same race and breed as other people on earth and they try to find reasons (even ridiculous reasons like this) describing their self proclaimed different looks. After 10 years leaving among them now I understand and feel more that they do not look different or better or prettier than any other people. It is just people think them and their fellow countrymen look and are better. This feeling is so strong they are willing to relate themselves to primitives like neanderthals.

  10. Neanderthals were just a unique race of modern man. Same level of intelligence (capacity for abstract though) via their equal or larger brain size, they played music, had ritual burials, created art, had every capacity for speech we do…etc. Need proof? Study the following article:


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  12. Neanderthalus Europeanus???? I wanna see a picture of the exact replica of “Neanderthalus Africanus” or something. I bet it wouldn’t be that handsome. They wouldn’t make it look so human-like– they’d make it look like half-human/half monkey. People always depicted us as monkeys through the media, in physical and mental attributes, and they are sure to make the “black species” of Neanderthal the same way.

  13. My thoughts are that most Neanderthals were killed off by homo sapiens returning to the warming hunting grounds after the last ice age (Neanderthals inhabited the colder regions first, being more suited to colder weather).

    They were little different than us, burying their dead, except that they appeared to have typically lived in groups of 10 or so, whereas homo sapiens typically lived in groups of 50-100, making it easy for them to overwhelm any Neanderthal groups they came across.

    If the DNA was close enough to allow inter-species breeding, I assume a few Neanderthals would have been captured or subsumed.

    I often wonder if the old Norse tales of trolls refer to folk memory of the Neanderthals. They would have disappeared last from the most northern extremes of Europe – though apparently no evidence of them has been found there.

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  15. Juveniles of all species, especially primates, look appealing because of neoteny. Big eyes in a smaller, rounder face, etc. This holds true for Neanderthals as well as gorillas, orangutans, etc.

    But adult primates look starkly different and alien, and much less appealing. Similarly, an adult Neanderthal would clearly look brutish – thick brow ridges, huge jaw, weak chin, and a overall shape that reflected its thicker and denser bones.

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