Dogs: the key for homo sapiens to prevail over the Neanderthal

Dogs: the key for homo sapiens to prevail over the Neanderthal

Anthropologist Pat Shipman has concluded that Humans overpowered Neanderthals through the domestication of dogs. Their study is based on the comparison of extensive literature with the research of Cambridge University academics (UK), Paul Mellars and Jennifer French, who established that «the numerical supremacy of humans could have been a key factor on its own”To displace neanderthals.

The analysis of the results of the excavations of the fossilized canine bones of Europa during the time that humans and neanderthals lived together, was what prompted Shipman to conduct his investigation. If they all put in collation, offer convincing evidence of the relevance of dogs.

First, there was a ritual worship of dogs. The 27,000-year-old remains found at Předmostí (Czech Republic) show the ritual postures with which the animals were buried. Also, the marks on the holes in the teeth suggest that early humans used those teeth as jewelry. According to Shipman, Paleolithic people rarely made animal ornaments that they used simply for food.

Like humans, not too many dogs appear in cave paintings. This could be understood as that they did not see them as simple animals, but faithful travel companions.

Shipman thinks that the affinity between humans and dogs manifested itself mainly in hunting. Dogs helped humans identify their prey, although they were also used as beasts of burden, due to their large size. According to experts, the minimum size would be around that of a German shepherd today. Since transporting the carcasses of hunted prey was an energy-intensive task, dogs made it easier for humans to engage in other pursuits, such as hunting, gathering, and breeding. This would put humans at a clear evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals.

There is another theory about the relationship between dogs and humans that the anthropologist points out. Is refers to the physical construction of the human eye and gazes. Human beings have a different type of eye from other primates, since the white sclera is much more abundant and allows more information to be communicated with each look. The white sclera reveals the direction of the gaze, which is useful when hunting skillfully in a group. Already from babies, humans follow the gaze of parents or those who observe them.

But dogs also recognize looks and are able to take advantage of them. In a study conducted at the Central European University, Shipman notes that in a test in which a person spoke, “dogs and human children followed that person's gaze in the same way”.

This affinity for eye contact of humans and their best canine friends is quite unique. According to Shipman, it would be a consequence of the millenary relationship between the two: «No genetic studies have yet confirmed the prevalence or absence of white sclera in modern Paleolithic humans or Neanderthals. But if the mutation of the white sclera was more frequent among the former, this characteristic could have to do with greater communication between humans and dogs, as well as the domestication of the latter.«.

The relationship between humans and Neanderthals it has been a mystery to anthropologists. 250,000 years ago, Neanderthals lived and evolved in Europe quite successfully until 45,000 years ago the first humans appeared. These inhabitants proliferated in their new environment, multiplying their population tenfold during the 10,000 years after their arrival, while that of the Neanderthals declined until they became extinct.

Shipman's theory is one of the newest of the many out there on the disappearance of Neanderthals in front of humans. Some attribute it to climate change. Others focus on the social ability of humans, who developed the ability to cooperate and took advantage of the evolutionary advantages of social cohesion. Although it could also be that it was a technological evolution with the development of more advanced tools and hunting weapons that allowed them to access a greater variety of food.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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