February 10th, 2021 @ 6:30pm via online link (see bottom of page)
Do Neandertals have to be just like us? The perpetual debate about Neanderthal and early modern human behaviour
Dr. Dennis Sandgathe, Simon Fraser University.
Since the discover of Neanderthals in the mid-1800s there has been an ongoing debate about how different or similar to us modern humans they were. In the early decades of research this was a strongly polarized debate between those who thought Neandertals were dumb brutes and those who thought they were just like us. In more recent decades it has become more of a debate about just how much like early modern humans they might have been in terms of their technology and complexity of culture. However, the available evidence still makes it clear that Neanderthals had been different from the modern humans that replaced them in Eurasia 40,000 years ago at the start of the Upper Palaeolithic. This can be seen in their use of abstract symbols, how they treated their dead, and their level of fire technology. In fact, we have very good reason to expect that they would have been different in many ways from contemporary early modern humans. However, this does not mean they were dumb or lacked culture and, after all, modern humans and Neandertals obviously saw each other as similar enough to choose to interbreed.
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