Neanderthals were sailors

Neanderthals were sailors

All the new discoveries make us think that neanderthals they could have been ahead of modern humans in conquering the sea. Growing evidence suggests that our extinct ancestors crossed the Mediterranean on ships 100,000 years ago.

In this region (mediterranean), Neanderthals lived for 300,000 years. Mousterian culture has left stone tools in the whole area of ​​mainland Greece and also in the Greek islands of Lefkas, Kefalonia and Zante, which could be explained in only two ways:

  1. Or the islands weren't islands at the time.
  2. Our distant cousins ​​crossed the water somehow.

In this context, the historian George Ferentinos, from the University of Patras (Greece), states that we can rule out the first hypothesis, because the islands were already such at that time. Of course offers a scientific version for this, explaining that sea levels were 120 meters lower 100,000 years ago, because most of the water was frozen in the largest ice caps on the planet.

But nevertheless, the seabed off Greece, which currently descends about 300 meters, gives us to understand that when the Neanderthals were in the region, the sea must have been at least 180 meters deep. This has been published in the Journal of Archeological Science.

In this sense, Ferentinos thinks that Neanderthals had a marine culture tens of thousands of years, while it has been widely believed that humans have gone out to sea only 50,000 years ago, crossing to Australia.

The trips to the Greek islands from the mainland were very short, between 5 and 12 kilometers, but according to Thomas strasser, from Providence College in Rhode Island, the neanderthals didn't stop there. Similar stone tools were found in 2008 in Crete, which are at least 130,000 years old, and this is an island that is at least 5 million years old and is 40 kilometers from its closest neighbor, suggesting that Neanderthals were more ambitious with their travels.

Strasser agrees with the idea that Neanderthals were sailors before modern humans, at least in the Mediterranean. He believes that early hominins made much more use of the sea than we can suspect and that they could have used it as a road, rather than seeing it as an obstacle.

But nevertheless, the details are still lost in history, since all the boats were made of wood, so they have probably rotted a long time ago. The oldest boat found in the Mediterranean is the "canoe on Lake Bracciano", in Italy, which has 7.000 years old. Ferentinos speculates that Neanderthals could have done something similar.

There is a simple explanation how they got to the islands and is given to us by Paul Pettitt, from the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom): “just swimming”, not a crazy idea.

Anyway, there is an even bigger question if Ferentinos is correct and that is Neanderthals would not have been the first marine hominins. They have been found in Indonesia, more specifically in the Flores Island, stone tools of a million years old, so Homo Erectus He could also have crossed the sea to an island, winning over our distant cousin.

Source: New Scientist
Image: MartaM in Art and Photography

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