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Thread: Human vs Neanderthal

  1. #101  
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    Gonzales

    The amount of neanderthal and denisovan DNA in modern human populations is only about 2% of the genome. Most of the other 98% pre-dates any split from pre-human ancestors. We share a rather large number of genes with mice, for example. If you define 'modern' DNA as that which evolved since splitting from other primates, then yes, there is not much. However, it is very significant.
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  2. #102  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    slavery ... For most members of a tribe, exile is certain death. Only a scarce few have the skills necessary to survive for a long time on their own. The slaves won't run away because there's nowhere to go.
    Thanks. Slavery's a charged topic for us moderns, who are most concerned for our personal freedoms. For slaves in earlier times the status would seem no more unjust than, say, raising a coal-mining family in a coal-company town. Year after year, the "slave" always determines the best option is to stay on and work for the boss. So slavery is maintained not by iron hardware but by an economic calculation in the slave's mind.

    When we talk of neanderthal slaves, we're talking about naïve pushovers who can't understand the injustice of their situation the way modern people - or their sapiens masters - do. The word "slavery" is a poor fit here. They would have been manipulated and ripped-off at every transaction with homo sapiens; this amounts to more than slavery.
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    Not really skeptic... Some modern humans are as low as 1.8% for "modern" derived dna. Last time I checked some "modern" humans had as high as 6-8% derived denisovan dna.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Gonzales The amount of neanderthal and denisovan DNA in modern human populations is only about 2% of the genome. Most of the other 98% pre-dates any split from pre-human ancestors. We share a rather large number of genes with mice, for example. If you define 'modern' DNA as that which evolved since splitting from other primates, then yes, there is not much. However, it is very significant.
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    Here are the numbers for "modern" derived dna..

    Europeans/French = 9.8%
    Chinese/Han = 7.8%
    Papuan = 5.9%
    Sub Saharan African/San = 1.7%

    Sub Saharan African's also have recent admixture, up to 13% of their dna, from other arciac hominid/s.
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  5. #105  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzales56 View Post
    Not really skeptic... Some modern humans are as low as 1.8% for "modern" derived dna. Last time I checked some "modern" humans had as high as 6-8% derived denisovan dna.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Gonzales The amount of neanderthal and denisovan DNA in modern human populations is only about 2% of the genome. Most of the other 98% pre-dates any split from pre-human ancestors. We share a rather large number of genes with mice, for example. If you define 'modern' DNA as that which evolved since splitting from other primates, then yes, there is not much. However, it is very significant.
    Cite your source
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Adelady

    The death rate for men in those societies is generally a lot higher than for women. It is those inter-tribal wars that cause this. Some modern hunter-gatherer tribes have death rates of males in male on male violence as high as 20%. In such societies, polygamy is common. My data, by the way, comes from Prof. Steven Pinker's book about the history of violence, which I have now read twice.
    The one study I pulled of the Hiwi (Venezuela), showed the women dying from violence at about the same rate as men.
    "Early adulthood. We recorded the causes for 88 deaths between the ages of 10 and 39 years. Warfare and homicide accounted for 44$ of the deaths in this age category, with about 42% of these caused by intratribal disputes and 58% due to attacks by "criollos." Surprisingly, women were just as likely to be killed as men,...
    http://courses.washington.edu/evpsyc...rs-JHE2007.pdf
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  7. #107  
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    neanderthal stone culture has been found on islands in the eastern Mediterranean
    caveat: the material has not been dated

    The conclusion reached by the greek anthropologists at the dig was that the neanderthals were mariners.

    Looking forward to seeing information as/re dates of materials, and then information of the climate in that time range.
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  8. #108  
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    Re: Mediterranean. Depending on the age of the sites. It is highly probable that the islands were accessable by walking due to low water levels in the Med. Basin. Them being mariners is much less likely. When was the Greek assessment published?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Adelady

    The death rate for men in those societies is generally a lot higher than for women. It is those inter-tribal wars that cause this. Some modern hunter-gatherer tribes have death rates of males in male on male violence as high as 20%. In such societies, polygamy is common. My data, by the way, comes from Prof. Steven Pinker's book about the history of violence, which I have now read twice.
    I've read, though, that the tribes that that practice the most warfare also tend to have rates of female infanticide or selected neglect of female babies.
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  10. #110  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If anything, slavery is easier for hunter gatherer tribes than for agricultural communities. For most members of a tribe, exile is certain death. Only a scarce few have the skills necessary to survive for a long time on their own. The slaves won't run away because there's nowhere to go.
    Well, yes, but that's true for any other member of the group as well.
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  11. #111  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Re: Mediterranean. Depending on the age of the sites. It is highly probable that the islands were accessable by walking due to low water levels in the Med. Basin. Them being mariners is much less likely. When was the Greek assessment published?
    It is, however, interesting to note that after the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia, a small number of people were found literally hundreds of kilometres from their point of origin clinging to floating mats of vegetation. This tells us that it is possible for people to travel substantial distances across the ocean without any mariner skills whatever. Since many Mediterranean islands are volcanic, tsunamis may well have been an occasional event in prehistoric Mediterranean coastal regions. Over periods of many thousands of years, this mode of transport and dispersion may have been important.
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    Call me stupid, but should it not actually be homo sapiens vs neanderthal? I mean because both are humans, except one became extinct, may I also point out that the trace of the neanderthal has yet to be erased from our current race. We still have some with a massive supraorbital ridge.
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  13. #113  
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    when did we stop using homo-sapiens-sapiens vs homo-sapiens-neanderthalensis?
    Please bear in mind that i left the academy over 1/3 of a century ago
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  14. #114  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Re: Mediterranean. Depending on the age of the sites. It is highly probable that the islands were accessable by walking due to low water levels in the Med. Basin. Them being mariners is much less likely. When was the Greek assessment published?
    George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece
    was the person quoted

    He claimed that at the time in question that the islands were islands
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  15. #115  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Re: Mediterranean. Depending on the age of the sites. It is highly probable that the islands were accessable by walking due to low water levels in the Med. Basin. Them being mariners is much less likely. When was the Greek assessment published?
    It is, however, interesting to note that after the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia, a small number of people were found literally hundreds of kilometres from their point of origin clinging to floating mats of vegetation. This tells us that it is possible for people to travel substantial distances across the ocean without any mariner skills whatever. Since many Mediterranean islands are volcanic, tsunamis may well have been an occasional event in prehistoric Mediterranean coastal regions. Over periods of many thousands of years, this mode of transport and dispersion may have been important.
    Finding stuff from very long ago comes down to probability. If it were very common, then out of the thousands and thousands of times a potential artifact was left somewhere for us to find it, we might just be lucky enough to find one that has survived intact.

    If the event is uncommon, then finding an artifact from it would require quite a lot of luck. Not impossible. But the "balance of probabilities" works against it.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Noticed this article on Science Daily the other day. It seems reasonable to assume that there must have been something about neanderthals that put them at a disadvantage, but the evidence isn't really there for exactly what it was, according to this article.
    Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, study finds -- ScienceDaily
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  17. #117  
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    Thanks Diane

    as/re:
    Villa and Roebroeks say that the past misrepresentation of Neanderthals' cognitive ability may be linked to the tendency of researchers to compare Neanderthals, who lived in the Middle Paleolithic, to modern humans living during the more recent Upper Paleolithic period, when leaps in technology were being made.
    Alternately, from psychology, there is a tendency to think that we are the best that has ever been. Those from the past were primitive, and therefore stupid.
    This prejudice is most common in youth, and sadly, some folks just never grow out of it.
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    IMO, it's complex. Climate, resource competition, and disease.

    The thing is we are a migratory species, seemingly the Neanderthals were not. They probably were able to adapt to new situations as well as could or can, which is key in being migratory. Seems weird, since we were both descended from homo erectus (the original migratory species in our shared genus) it figures we'd both have the instinct to do this. The fact that Neanderthals remains have only been found in Europe and the Middle East, which in Paleolithic times were tundra or temperate at very best, shows they were adapted to being confined to a given area.
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    Carlinsomes

    Denisovans were genetically very close to Neanderthals, and their genes have been found right across Asia and into the Pacific. If we regard them as a version of Neanderthal, then Neanderthals ranged very widely indeed.
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    er...their taxonomic status is moot at best. Known Neanderthals have only ever been discovered in Europe and the Middle East, unless you can show otherwise..
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    We've had these neanderthal topics before and I remember seeing DNA research that showed Europeans have the highest amount of neanderthal DNA mixed in with their homosapien DNA. I would say that's pretty good evidence as to where most of the neanderthals lived.

    Also, when the homosapiens started migrating into Europe their numbers increased to at least 10 times the neanderthal numbers. So we not only out competed them, but we mated with them and had children with them. I'm not sure saying they went extinct is completely correct as their DNA is still being passed on in humans.
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  22. #122  
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    Of all the potential archaeological finds, maybe, we have found a fraction of a percent.
    Homo-sapiens-neanderthalensis had his interglacials during marine isotope stages 5, 7, 9, and (perhaps)11.

    It is likely that the range of neanderthalensis stretched from northern africa to the british isles to siberia and back to the levant during these interglacials.
    Unfortunately, the glaciers tend to destroy archaeological sites with the ruthlessness of bulldozers.
    It seems that the eastern and southern neanderthals were taller and more gracile than the common western european 'classical' neanderthals.
    These eastern and southern gracile neanderthals (eg Vindija) seem to have never recovered from the toba extinction as identifiable sapiens-neanderthalensis, perhaps they were among the first to breed with sapiens sapiens, and their genes were subsumed within sapiens sapiens? The few surviving western european neanderthals sought refuges along the Mediterranean coasts, but may never have been able to interbreed sufficiently between the refuges, leaving them genetically vulnerable.(this last is more speculative)

    Bear in mind that the next great archaeological find my just be a shovel full of earth away. Many had passed over Göbekli Tepe before Klaus Schmidt started digging there.
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  23. #123  
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    The following video was put on by PBS Nova. I have watched the complete program and it's the best I've seen and if you watch it, it will change how you view neanderthals forever.

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  24. #124  
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    Carl

    Both Neanderthal and Denisovan have had a big part of their genome sequenced. From this, we know that they are closely related, which is all I claimed. The Denisovan remains were in Eastern Russia, and genes identical to the few unique Denisovan genes have been found in human populations as far afield as the Solomon Islands. If Denisovans are a variety of Neanderthal, which the genome sequencing suggests, then Neanderthal ranged wider than bone discoveries would suggest.
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    So Denisovans are a race of Neandtherals? Kind of like white, black or East Asian modern humans? I guess it's possible, but then it's a stretch to say they were a species, especially since the only fossil we have is a finger bone...
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    Carl

    The understanding of the relationship is not based on a fingerbone, but on DNA. Enough was extracted from the Denisovan bones to provide a partial genome analysis. Enough to show they were closely related to Neanderthals.
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  27. #127  
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    Perhaps, we've been looking at the "neanderthal die-off" from the wrong perspective?
    Perhaps, it was the purebred sapiens sapiens who died off, and only the children of those who had bred with neanderthals(or denisovans?) had the immunity strength gotten from the neanderthals to survive in the alien environments outside of africa.

    If all non african sapiens sapiens have some neanderthal dna, then none without the neanderthal dna survived.
    Logical?
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  28. #128  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Perhaps, we've been looking at the "neanderthal die-off" from the wrong perspective?
    Perhaps, it was the purebred sapiens sapiens who died off, and only the children of those who had bred with neanderthals(or denisovans?) had the immunity strength gotten from the neanderthals to survive in the alien environments outside of Africa.

    If all non African sapiens sapiens have some neanderthal DNA, then none without the neanderthal DNA survived.
    Logical?
    The following article was just posted today and pretty much supports what you just said.

    Surprising Amount of Neanderthal DNA Still Evident in Modern European and Asian Populations | Science | KQED Public Media for Northern CA
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    yippee
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  30. #130  
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    Something to think about.

    Alongside Homo sapiens in the last few tens of thousands of years, three other types of human lived. Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo floresiensis. ​All three are now extinct, though all three must have lived for hundreds of thousands of years before meeting up with humans. All three died out within a short time, in evolutionary terms, after meeting humans. Why?
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  31. #131  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Something to think about.

    Alongside Homo sapiens in the last few tens of thousands of years, three other types of human lived. Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo floresiensis. ​All three are now extinct, though all three must have lived for hundreds of thousands of years before meeting up with humans. All three died out within a short time, in evolutionary terms, after meeting humans. Why?
    why indeed
    Recent digs put sapiens sapiens out of africa much sooner than previously thought 91,000 years is likely with questionable dates back to 120,000 years.
    Many of the migrations were, most likely, during the eemian(mis5).
    Much of what happened during the recent glaciation remains to be found in the shallow waters off shore.

    From the recent dates, it would seem that the 3-4-? homo members cohabited for 40000-70000 years.

    If there is a smoking gun anywhere in there----we shot the darned thing off, and smoke just kept pouring out of the barrel for the next 70,000 years .

    To disperse out of sub-Saharan Africa, it was necessary for hominins to cross the deserts of either the Sahara and/or Arabia. Thus, understanding the palaeoclimate of the Saharo-Arabian region is central to determining the role these deserts played in the peopling of the planet; when did they act as barriers and when were they more humid, opening dispersal routes across them? To address these questions we have conducted a temporal and spatial evaluation of dated sites from 20 to 350 ka using combined probability density function (PDF) and geographical Information System (GIS) analyses of all sites dated using uranium/thorium (U/TH) or optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) methods. Radiocarbon dates were not considered because of contamination problems in this time range. The results show that during MIS 2 there is little evidence for humidity in Arabia as would be expected during the height of the last glacial maximum, however, the Sahara shows a sharp rise in probability at the beginning of MIS 2, peaking near the boundary with MIS 3 at ∼29 ka. There appear to be brief periods of humidity in MIS 3 and 6, though at different times in the Sahara (ca. 37, 44, 138, 154 and 180 ka) and Arabia (ca. 40, 54 and 163 ka). During MIS 5, both regions show much evidence for humidity,
    Last edited by sculptor; May 6th, 2014 at 12:47 PM.
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  32. #132  
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    Bad:
    Thanks for the video link in post #123
    One video links to another links to another.......wow
    I don't normally play videos to learn science. Maybe I'd forgotten just how much fun a good lecture can be?

    Neandertals have been a fascination for me since I was a child.
    While studying anthropology/archaeology circa late 70s, I had been in the field museum's basement doing research, and came up into the museum proper and wandered by the Neanderthal exhibit. The exhibit at that time showed the Neanderthals as stooped and stupid. Seeing a crowd gathered together in front of the exhibit, I acted impulsively, moved to the front, and began with something on the order of: "Let me tell you what is wrong with this exhibit". I most likely started by mentioning that neandertal brains were roughly 16% bigger than modern man. I lectured for maybe 1/2 hour when I noticed one of the museum guys at the back of the crowd. Part of me was wondering if I had offended him, which threw off my train of thought, so I opened it up for questions. As the people dispersed, I went over to talk to the guy, thinking to apologize for insulting the exhibit(which I had seen dozens of times in the preceding 20 years), and, amazingly, he began to apologize to me, saying that they had been planning to change the exhibit to reflect more accurate neandertal data. Interesting and refreshing conversation followed.
    And, change the exhibit, they did.

    Really a great place to spend a few days if you're ever in Chicago. Plenty of places to sit and ponder.

    Ok
    thanks again
    Me back to the linked videos
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  33. #133  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Bad:
    Thanks for the video link in post #123
    One video links to another links to another.......wow
    I don't normally play videos to learn science. Maybe I'd forgotten just how much fun a good lecture can be?

    Neanderthals have been a fascination for me since I was a child.

    While studying anthropology/archaeology circa late 70s, I had been in the field museum's basement doing research, and came up into the museum proper and wandered by the Neanderthal exhibit. The exhibit at that time showed the Neanderthals as stooped and stupid. Seeing a crowd gathered together in front of the exhibit, I acted impulsively, moved to the front, and began with something on the order of: "Let me tell you what is wrong with this exhibit". I most likely started by mentioning that neanderthal brains were roughly 16% bigger than modern man. I lectured for maybe 1/2 hour when I noticed one of the museum guys at the back of the crowd. Part of me was wondering if I had offended him, which threw off my train of thought, so I opened it up for questions. As the people dispersed, I went over to talk to the guy, thinking to apologize for insulting the exhibit(which I had seen dozens of times in the preceding 20 years), and, amazingly, he began to apologize to me, saying that they had been planning to change the exhibit to reflect more accurate neanderthal data. Interesting and refreshing conversation followed.
    And, change the exhibit, they did.

    Really a great place to spend a few days if you're ever in Chicago. Plenty of places to sit and ponder.

    Ok
    thanks again
    Me back to the linked videos

    Thanks, I was hoping someone besides me would watch that video. I thought it was good enough that I watched it twice as I had to verify it was the same NOVA program I'd watched before on TV. Ever sense then I've been partial to NOVA programing.

    Thanks for the invite, but it's Chicago I don't really like very much.

    And yes I very much believe neanderthals have got a bad rap they don't deserve. We did out compete them as the climate changed in favor of homo sapiens. However we also mated with them. Those matings were not as fertile as matings between the homo sapiens and as we absorbed them into our population the low fertility rates between species pretty much guaranteed they were going to fade out of existence as a species.
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  34. #134  
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    To sculptor

    Re the 'out of Africa' thing.

    There seem to have been two times Homo sapiens left Africa. Human bones dated at roughly 100,000 years ago have been found in Israel. However, there is no evidence that humans made it to Europe and to a co-existence with neanderthals till much more recently. The period of co-existence with other varieties of Homo was much less time than you think.

    My view is very simple. Humans are violent in primitive society. Humans kill other humans, when in tribal and hostile social set ups at a terrific rate. When 20% of the males in a tribe are killed by human-human conflict every generation, you realise just how bloody aggressive and violent we can be. Modern civilisation is a haven of peace and harmony by comparison. Modern tribal societies such as those in the Amazon and in Papua have unbelievably high raters of killings. Bones from ancient humans show arrow, spear and club wounds that had to be fatal rather too often to believe they were peaceful.

    Neanderthals would be more 'different' than another tribe of humans, and thus would be more likely to be a target for human aggression. I think Neanderthals died out, on the stone tips of spears wielded by humans.
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    Who says Neanderthals didn't attack modern humans? Or themselves were not violent to each other?

    Neanderthal fossils have been discovered with numerous breaks, I doubt all of these are from hunting large game.
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  36. #136  
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlinsomes View Post
    Neanderthal fossils have been discovered with numerous breaks, I doubt all of these are from hunting large game.
    and what is the rationale behind this doubt ? neanderthals didn't have the weapons that allowed them to attack big game from a distance, and had to get up close to make a kill - does it then surprise you that breakages are common occurrence ?

    that's not to say that battles with modern humans could not have have produced the same results, but there's enough chance of breakages with their normal way of life and hunting to account for them
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  37. #137  
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlinsomes View Post
    Who says Neanderthals didn't attack modern humans? Or themselves were not violent to each other?

    Neanderthal fossils have been discovered with numerous breaks, I doubt all of these are from hunting large game.
    I am sure that was true. The "winner" of hostilities would be the species that survived. Since it took some thousands of years for the process of extinction to be completed, there was probably not a lot between the two peoples. Humans eventually were the ones that survived, which implies they had a small advantage. It was suggested earlier that the human ability to throw a weapon may have been that difference. If Neanderthals were attacking humans, their ambushes would be less effective, since they would have to rush out to stab their victims. Humans, though, would be able to throw their spears, with or without atlatl's, and I have no doubt that their young men were very skilled at such throwing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To sculptor ...

    My view is very simple. Humans are violent in primitive society. Humans kill other humans, ...
    Neanderthals would be more 'different' than another tribe of humans, and thus would be more likely to be a target for human aggression. I think Neanderthals died out, on the stone tips of spears wielded by humans.
    May i suggest that this is indicative of a prejudice on your part? And, that that prejudice may blind you to the reality of the situation.

    Prejudice may be the most heinous and contagious of all mental diseases.
    Because of the contagious nature of the disease, we should do all in out power to suppress it.

    We do know that modern humans passed through the caucasus mountains on their way up to europe and asia, and that they did so early enough to then split into the varied races we see today. The timeline for commingling of genetic material thereby seems to have been several tens of thousands of years ago.

    There were 3 separate races of neanderthals. The modern humans seem to be most closely related to those who inhabited the caucasus mountains.
    With some east asians showing an admixture of the eastern race of neanderthals.

    map of approximate distribution of neanderthal races:

    PLOS ONE: Genetic Evidence of Geographical Groups among Neanderthals

    Meanwhile, the mtDNA of a 400kyr old leg bone from La Sima de los Huesos, in northern spain seems to be more closely related to denisovans than neandertals. This is an excellent example of how new knowledge just leads to more and maybe better questions.
    The Max Planck guys think we'll see the nuclear DNA within a year, then we'll know at-least twice as much.
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    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_fY3pjP0Zc8


    Sculptor

    My views on primitive human aggression come from proper scientific studies. They are summarised in Prof. Steven Pinker's book "The Better Angels of our Nature" which details the way in which human violence has been falling. He quantifies the deaths by violence in different societies. The reference above is a talk by Pinker on this subject.

    No, do not assume prejudice. High levels of violence and murder are demonstrated by good science, in primitive human societies.

    My view that this violence translates into action against Neanderthals is deduction, since there is no direct evidence. (There cannot be.) However, since we know that primitive human tribes wage war on each other, and the death rate through male on male aggression is high, it is very logical to deduce that the same applied from human to Neanderthal.
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    more on the spanish site:

    The DNA, which represents the oldest hominin sequence yet published, has left researchers baffled because most of them believed that the bones would be more closely linked to Neanderthals than to Denisovans. “That’s not what I would have expected; that’s not what anyone would have expected,” says Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at London’s Natural History Museum who was not involved in sequencing the femur DNA.

    The fossil was excavated in the 1990s from a deep cave in a well-studied site in northern Spain called Sima de los Huesos (‘pit of bones’). This femur and the remains of more than two dozen other hominins found at the site have previously been attributed either to early forms of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe until about 30,000 years ago, or to Homo heidelbergensis, a loosely defined hominin population that gave rise to Neanderthals in Europe and possibly humans in Africa.

    But a closer link to Neanderthals than to Denisovans was not what was discovered by the team led by Svante Pääbo, a molecular geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

    The team sequenced most of the femur’s mitochondrial genome, which is made up of DNA from the cell’s energy-producing structures and passed down the maternal line. The resulting phylogenetic analysis *— which shows branches in evolutionary history — placed the DNA closer to that of Denisovans than to Neanderthals or modern humans. “This really raises more questions than it answers,” Pääbo says.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    ... They are summarised in Prof. Steven Pinker's book "The Better Angels of our Nature" .
    Steven Pinker...............ok, that explains a lot.

    Really, Steven Pinker knows almost nothing of anthropology and less of archaeology. His claims about previous violence do not stand up to even a cursory scrutiny.
    He has created a fantasy ancient world to support a poorly thought out hypothesis about a future Utopian world.

    Maybe he's doing a dr. feelgood silliness to encourage a direction he fervently hopes will come true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    ... They are summarised in Prof. Steven Pinker's book "The Better Angels of our Nature" .
    Steven Pinker...............ok, that explains a lot.

    Really, Steven Pinker knows almost nothing of anthropology and less of archaeology. His claims about previous violence do not stand up to even a cursory scrutiny.
    He has created a fantasy ancient world to support a poorly thought out hypothesis about a future Utopian world.

    Maybe he's doing a dr. feelgood silliness to encourage a direction he fervently hopes will come true.
    If you search [youtube Steven Pinker] you'll find he has one hell of a lot to say about a lot of things.

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    You know the story of the helvetii?
    circa 60 bc, @260,000 of them left their home territory in Switzerland seeking more room for their growing tribe. Everywhere they went, they were attacked. Then Caesar attacked, and diminished in numbers, the 110,000 survivors went back to their homes-----the overpopulation problem having been solved.

    If we are looking to high percentages dying from warfare, need we look any farther back than the gory that was rome?
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    Re Steven Pinker

    He is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. If human violence is not part of psychology, then what the heck is it part of? Pinker is eminently qualified to comment on this topic, and his work is well worth reading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by carlinsomes View Post
    Neanderthal fossils have been discovered with numerous breaks, I doubt all of these are from hunting large game.
    and what is the rationale behind this doubt ? neanderthals didn't have the weapons that allowed them to attack big game from a distance, and had to get up close to make a kill - does it then surprise you that breakages are common occurrence ?

    that's not to say that battles with modern humans could not have have produced the same results, but there's enough chance of breakages with their normal way of life and hunting to account for them
    That's not my point. So we were/are violent to each other and Neanderthals with whom we share a common ancestor were not? that doesn't make sense, at least to me.

    Some of the fossil bone breaks could have come from attacks on each other. there is no reason to say they didn't or couldn't have attacked each other, or were not as violent as we are. and what is the rationale to say they were peaceful and weren't/aren't?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The "winner" of hostilities would be the species that survived.
    That would seem highly dependent on the context. Whether in modern or primitive groups, aggression can also be risky and costly. I can easily see the winner as being any group who managed to avoid it, and put more effort into finding food, caring for young, and making or inventing things that enhance survival.

    It also seems contradictory to me to attribute modern or even historical violence to our primitive roots, but then suggest or peaceful or cooperative strategies appeared out of no where, or that trust or cooperation is just a thin veneer that civilization has somehow overlayed our animal instincts. I think cooperation and competition are just different behavioral programs humans can easily switch between, depending on the threats or the benefits, but both behaviors equally rooted in our evolutionary past.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlinsomes View Post
    Some of the fossil bone breaks could have come from attacks on each other. there is no reason to say they didn't or couldn't have attacked each other, or were not as violent as we are. and what is the rationale to say they were peaceful and weren't/aren't?
    i was not implying that neanderthals were of necessity peaceful
    all i'm saying is that you can't tell whether a breakage comes from hunting or fighting with modern humans (unless you find one with a spear or an arrow embedded in its skeleton, which i don't think has happened yet), and considering that hunting of big game was a regular activity, and imo far more frequent than tussles between nearby tribes of hominids, then it stands to reason that the majority of injuries observed in the fossil record come from hunting
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    Diane

    If you read Pinker's book, you will find that he proposes mechanisms by which violence gets less over time. The main one is the imposition of a central authority. As tribes amalgamate into larger social units, people appear who are the leaders. While these people tend to be very nasty themselves, they also tend to take a dim view of their subjects being nasty. So they punish those who commit murder. This reduces the murder rate. As societies further amalgamate into city-states, and later into nations, the power of the central authrity grows and its suppression of violence. Of course, they still go to war, but that kills fewer people than inter-tribal raids and murders.

    Humanity is currently enjoying a period that academics call The Long Peace. In this period, deaths in war globally have dropped to about 70,000 per year as an average over the past decade or so. Earlier, in the 20th Century, and in the decades just after WWII, deaths in war were two to three times that level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Diane

    If you read Pinker's book, you will find that he proposes mechanisms by which violence gets less over time. The main one is the imposition of a central authority. As tribes amalgamate into larger social units, people appear who are the leaders. While these people tend to be very nasty themselves, they also tend to take a dim view of their subjects being nasty. So they punish those who commit murder. This reduces the murder rate. As societies further amalgamate into city-states, and later into nations, the power of the central authrity grows and its suppression of violence. Of course, they still go to war, but that kills fewer people than inter-tribal raids and murders.

    Humanity is currently enjoying a period that academics call The Long Peace. In this period, deaths in war globally have dropped to about 70,000 per year as an average over the past decade or so. Earlier, in the 20th Century, and in the decades just after WWII, deaths in war were two to three times that level.
    I wouldn't disagree with any of that. It's interesting, though, to look at the role prisons play. Instead of killing people, we just incarcerate large numbers of them. It's less overtly violent, but it serves pretty much the same purpose of forcibly eliminating transgressors from society. And I'm not necessarily saying this it's wrong - what other alternative is there -but it makes it harder to argue that there is really less conflict.

    Rather than a steady decline in violence and aggression from paleolithic times, I think there was more of a spike in aggressive, war like behavior coinciding with the beginning of settlements, agriculture, population increase, and the accumulation and disparity of wealth. The long peace might be the result of centralized authority, but I think we are running "the trust/cooperate" program more because of the benefits of trade, and complex economic structures that are disrupted by war, and social unrest. People easily revert back to violence, pillage and plunder if they have nothing to lose, and feel threatened, or someone else's gain is automatically your loss (Rwanda, Darfur)

    Where I suppose I disagree is the assumption that pre-neolithic humans were even more violent, because I just don't see the logic. If the primary threat to your existence is harsh climates, accidents and injuries, disease and parasites, and seasonal fluctuations in food, what do you gain from warfare? Land is only important if you've made an investment in it, or it's somehow scarce. There's no accumulated wealth to loot. There might be some small gain to running over and stealing your neighbor's freshly killed deer, but it's not a good long term strategy. Chances are, what ever problems you're having surviving, are also problems for any other tribe in the region, and they won't really be solved by clubbing anyone over the head or stealing their shit. Your only solution is to migrate, or change your methods of hunting. That's why I don't see violence or aggression as a some primitive trait that civilization has has helped us overcome. We've always run both programs and probably still will flip back and forth when or if the benefits out weigh the costs.
    Last edited by DianeG; May 10th, 2014 at 04:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post

    Where I suppose I disagree is the assumption that pre-neolithic humans were even more violent, because I just don't see the logic. If the primary threat to your existence is harsh climates, accidents and injuries, disease and parasites, and seasonal fluctuations in food, what do you gain from warfare? Land is only important if you've made an investment in it, or it's somehow scarce.
    It comes down to hunting territory. Each tribe clearly states to the other tribes "This is our territory!!!". If you cross their boundaries, you will come under attack. But if you're hungry enough and your own territory is short on fauna, you may risk it to feed your children.

    Even animals follow this rule. Modern day wolves are often found dead near the boundaries between their pack's hunting territory and the territory belonging to the next pack over.


    There's no accumulated wealth to loot. There might be some small gain to running over and stealing your neighbor's freshly killed deer, but it's not a good long term strategy. Chances are, what ever problems you're having surviving, are also problems for any other tribe in the region, and they won't really be solved by clubbing anyone over the head or stealing their shit. Your only solution is to migrate, or change your methods of hunting.
    Migrate to where? By the time the wars started, it would be safe to assume that every inch of the available hunting grounds on all of planet Earth was claimed by some tribe or another (at least anywhere a starving tribe might hope to migrate to).


    That's why I don't see violence or aggression as a some primitive trait that civilization has has helped us overcome. We've always run both programs and probably still will flip back and forth when or if the benefits out weigh the costs.
    It's the combination of poverty and parenthood. It sounds just so immoral until we put ourselves into their shoes. What wouldn't you do for your own starving child?

    But poverty happens. So what are ya gonna do?

    Imagine a world where the economy fails, and we don't go to war. What happens then? We get eaten alive by our own criminal element? Or supposing nobody participates in criminal activity. What then? We simply watch our children starve to death in front of us?

    Would that be preferable over going to war?

    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To sculptor ...

    My view is very simple. Humans are violent in primitive society. Humans kill other humans, ...
    Neanderthals would be more 'different' than another tribe of humans, and thus would be more likely to be a target for human aggression. I think Neanderthals died out, on the stone tips of spears wielded by humans.
    May i suggest that this is indicative of a prejudice on your part? And, that that prejudice may blind you to the reality of the situation.

    .
    It would be prejudice if we assumed that it was a one sided exchange and the neanderthals didn't kill their fair share of sapiens also.

    This article suggests that quite a lot of the neanderthals' additional brain space went into supporting their larger eyes and bulkier bodies.

    Marek Kohn


    There is light mention of smaller social groups too, which would be a greater tactical disadvantage than any difference in weaponry or tactics. If the neighboring hunting territory is claimed by a tribe with more members than yours, and you want to go over there to hunt, then you're probably going to find that you are out of luck.
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    If we were to look for a fairly recent example of what it might have been like in neanderthal Europe when homo sapiens were migrating into their space. Look at what happened with the North American Indians when the Europeans started migrating here.

    In both cases the invaders overwhelmed the local populations with shear numbers. The locals didn't have any chance at all. The best the neanderthals could do was to commingle their genes with homo sapiens. After all women were considered to be spoils of war and any tribe finding itself short of women would usually raid their neighbors.
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    To Diane, who thinks there is no logic in primitives being excessively violent.

    Diane, logic has nothing to do with believing something is correct or incorrect. We need to go with the empirical data rather than with what we think is logical.

    On this, there are two lots of empirical data.
    1. Anthropologist studies, who look at primitive hunter/gatherer tribes in recent times, such as the Yanomomo of the Amazon, or the inland tribes of Papua.
    2. Bones from ancient peoples. These rather too often show damage of the sort consistent with human on human violence. I mentioned earlier the arrow head in the back of Otzi, the ice man. Many other ancient skeletons and bones show damage consistent with murder.

    Quite simply, whether you believe it logical or not, primitive peoples were very, very violent.

    Is there a reason? Yes. In the absense of some power or government inhibiting violence, it will happen. Sometimes it is anger. Sometimes greed. Sometimes sexual jealousy. Sometimes acquisition of property, or territory, or stealing another tribe's women. Sometimes it is trying to do it to them before they do it to us.
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    If you go back to evolution, you tend to see that the fastest change happens in a population group where there is a strong selection against survival, which is offset by a rapid breeding rate. If only a small fraction of those born go onto reproduce, the species is able to mutate faster. It gets to both "try out" more mutations, and put them to a stronger test to weed out less useful forms faster.

    Humanity should be expected to be no exception. In the pre-"smart" stage, we would have had our birth death cycle set up so only a fraction of the males born every generation survived. If the female population's survival rate was higher, near to 100%, then the males would be the ones who do the mutating, while the females bring the stability. Keeping the female survival rate high ensures rapid replenishment. Letting the males die frequently ensures rapid mutation and adaptation.

    We are now in the "smart" era, where genetic mutation is less important to our species' adaptability (we can instead adapt by changing our technology) - but we haven't been in that stage for long, and so we should expect that a lot of things about our instinctive behavior will still be based on the previous era.

    For example, I think it is no accident that European people tend to have broad shoulders, and during the Medieval era Europe was the continent that put the most focus on wearing heavy metal armor during combat. It's possible that even that brief a period of time (about 1000 years) was enough to change the average shoulder span on European males.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If you go back to evolution, you tend to see that the fastest change happens in a population group where there is a strong selection against survival, which is offset by a rapid breeding rate. If only a small fraction of those born go onto reproduce, the species is able to mutate faster. It gets to both "try out" more mutations, and put them to a stronger test to weed out less useful forms faster.

    Humanity should be expected to be no exception. In the pre-"smart" stage, we would have had our birth death cycle set up so only a fraction of the males born every generation survived. If the female population's survival rate was higher, near to 100%, then the males would be the ones who do the mutating, while the females bring the stability. Keeping the female survival rate high ensures rapid replenishment. Letting the males die frequently ensures rapid mutation and adaptation.

    We are now in the "smart" era, where genetic mutation is less important to our species' adaptability (we can instead adapt by changing our technology) - but we haven't been in that stage for long, and so we should expect that a lot of things about our instinctive behavior will still be based on the previous era.

    For example, I think it is no accident that European people tend to have broad shoulders, and during the Medieval era Europe was the continent that put the most focus on wearing heavy metal armor during combat. It's possible that even that brief a period of time (about 1000 years) was enough to change the average shoulder span on European males.
    Evolution doesn't quite work as you are picturing it. In a population with a large genetic diversity, the random deaths caused by murder and war don't make any evolutionary difference at all. The only time evolution comes into play is when the deaths are not random such as during the plague. In this case any homo sapiens or neanderthals that had a natural genetic resistance to the plague would tend to survive to pass their genetic advantage on to future generations. If there was any mutation going on at all, it had already happened in the past.

    Also, I'm not very sure your armor example means much as most of the European males didn't ware any armor. Even most solders didn't wear heavy armor. That kind of armor was very expensive and only knights with wealth could afford it. But in the case of having large shoulders, that could be more of a sexual selection part of evolution. If the females liked men with large shoulders better, then men with large shoulders would have better chance of breeding than those without large shoulders.
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    I think that both could have played a dominant roll in Neanderthal extinction: continuous conflict and climate change. As well as the possibility of interbreeding between us and Neanderthals. Maybe us homo sapien sapiens fancied Neanderthal women and we bred with them more than the Neanderthal men themselves (this was my recent spontaneous notion.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Migrate to where?

    Um, pretty much anywhere. Practically an entire planet of unclaimed real-estate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvolvedAtheist View Post
    I think that both could have played a dominant roll in Neanderthal extinction: continuous conflict and climate change. As well as the possibility of interbreeding between us and Neanderthals. Maybe us homo sapien sapiens fancied Neanderthal women and we bred with them more than the Neanderthal men themselves (this was my recent spontaneous notion.)
    Without actually seeing these primitive peoples in the flesh it's really hard to say what they really looked like. Most neanderthals are pictured as harry brutes, which wouldn't produce vary attractive females. But I have a feeling it's mostly a bias the artists have. Anyway the fact that most modern humans have 2 to 4% neanderthal DNA, is proof that we were willing to mate with them and the DNA we got from them did provide survival advantages. Without survival advantages that DNA wouldn't have spread to almost all modern humans. One study of the neanderthal DNA in modern humans shows it to mostly be associated with disease resistance. Which would mean that whenever a crossbreed was born they would have more protection from the diseases in the Northern climates of Europe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To Diane, who thinks there is no logic in primitives being excessively violent.

    Diane, logic has nothing to do with believing something is correct or incorrect. We need to go with the empirical data rather than with what we think is logical.

    On this, there are two lots of empirical data.
    1. Anthropologist studies, who look at primitive hunter/gatherer tribes in recent times, such as the Yanomomo of the Amazon, or the inland tribes of Papua.
    2. Bones from ancient peoples. These rather too often show damage of the sort consistent with human on human violence. I mentioned earlier the arrow head in the back of Otzi, the ice man. Many other ancient skeletons and bones show damage consistent with murder.

    Quite simply, whether you believe it logical or not, primitive peoples were very, very violent.

    Is there a reason? Yes. In the absense of some power or government inhibiting violence, it will happen. Sometimes it is anger. Sometimes greed. Sometimes sexual jealousy. Sometimes acquisition of property, or territory, or stealing another tribe's women. Sometimes it is trying to do it to them before they do it to us.
    Empirical evidence may trump logic, but the empirical evidence is pretty sketchy in this case. Game theorists apply logic and mathematical models to predict or explain all sorts of things in biology, economics, and history. The only way logic wouldn't matter is if one is convinced that our hominin ancestors acted irrationally against their own interests.

    I understand that the premise of Pinker's book is that there was a major and continuous decline in violence because state level societies ended the perpetual feuding and small scale warfare that exists in the state of anarchy. He bases this on archeological sites where skeletons have been analyzed for signs of violence, and on ethnographic data from recent times and their calculated death rates due to some form of homicide.

    Few people dispute the overall decline in violence in recent times, but his assessment of pre-neolithic warfare is questioned by other anthropologists, for two reasons - many of the modern hunter gatherer groups Pinker included - the Jivaro, Yanomami, Mae Enga, Dani Murngin, and the Huli - are not, strictly speaking, huntergathers. They are settled, they cultivate crops like yams, maize, bananas, sugarcane, beans, pumpkins, etc, and raise chickens, pigs, llamas. Some practice slash and burn horticulture, and modify the land in other ways. They have an investment in the land they live on and accumulate things. Some groups were even zooming around in aluminum boats by the time the ethnographic data was collected in the seventies.

    Pinker bases some of his data on that of anthropologist Keeley, but does not make the same distinctions that Keeley does between "Low-density, nomadic hunter- gatherers, with their few (and portable) possessions, large territories, and few fixed resources or constructed facilities” and “farmers and sedentary hunter-gatherers" whom Keeley says "had little alternative but to meet force with force or, after injury, to discourage further depredations by taking revenge.”

    The second criticism of Pinker, is that the evidence for extensive violence mostly arises in the last 10,000 years. Pinker attributes this to largely a matter of the deficient skeletal record - maybe so - but his extrapolation of this violence to earlier times is an assumption he can't really prove. So much for empirical data.

    But even if one accepts his evidence, his own data actually seems to support the alternative view, that warfare and violence spiked during the transition to agricultural settlements and because of increased population density. Pinker arrives at an average of 15% deaths due to homicide in Hunter-gatherer societies, 24.5% in Hunter-horticulturalists & other tribal groups, and for state societies the numbers range from less than 1% to 5%, He's the one straying from his own evidence by saying if we just had more skeletons we could prove that earlier hunter gathers were even more violent than people were in neolithic times.

    He seems commited to the Hobbesian view that state authority was solely responsible for pacifying human violence, and unwilling to entertain the idea that cooperation is equally rooted in our evolutionary history, as much as aggression, and it just depends on which strategy provides the best pay off.

    Evidence for a spike in violence is even better supported by anthropologists Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg in a study published in the journal Science. They analyzed the earliest existing records on those that had no horses and no permanent settlements, leaving them with 21 mobile foraging societies for analysis.

    “To be purists, we took only the oldest high-quality sources for each culture,” Fry told the journal Science, adding that these studies would best showcase the people’s traditional ways. The groups included the Montagnais people of Canada, the Andamanese people of India, the Botocudos of Brazil, and the !Kung people who live in isolated areas of Botswana, Angola and Namibia.

    These old records contained data on 148 lethal events. Of the 138 killings in which circumstances were “unambiguous,” 55 percent were determined to have involved one killer and one victim, the study said. In most killings (85 percent of the time), the killer and victim came from the same society. Men were most often the killers. Women were the aggressors just four percent of the time.

    “Most incidents of lethal aggression can aptly be called homicides, a few others feud, and only a minority warfare,” said the study. “In my view, the default for nomadic foragers is non warring,” Fry told Science. “In most foraging societies, said Fry, lethal aggression was infrequent, and in the archaeological record violence didn’t take regular group-on-group character until relatively recently, when people settled down in ever-larger, more complex and hierarchical societies.”
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  59. #159  
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    It may be that early agriculturists were more violent than their hunte/gatherer predecessors. It does not matter, though, since both were enormously violent by today's standards. When the number of males in a population killed by violence are expressed as a percentage above 10, then we have excessive violence. By comparison, in today's world, we express it as total number (male and female) per 100,000 per year. In my country it is 0.9. In Australia, 1.0. In England 1.2, and the USA as 4.3

    While the clear evidence for violence in Neolithic times is limited to a small number of skeletons, it is also clear that the level of violence is massively higher than in today's world. You can argue about whether it is 15% or 30%. But it is not below 5 per 100,000 per year, which is the case for all modern western nations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If you go back to evolution, you tend to see that the fastest change happens in a population group where there is a strong selection against survival, which is offset by a rapid breeding rate. If only a small fraction of those born go onto reproduce, the species is able to mutate faster. It gets to both "try out" more mutations, and put them to a stronger test to weed out less useful forms faster.

    Humanity should be expected to be no exception. In the pre-"smart" stage, we would have had our birth death cycle set up so only a fraction of the males born every generation survived. If the female population's survival rate was higher, near to 100%, then the males would be the ones who do the mutating, while the females bring the stability. Keeping the female survival rate high ensures rapid replenishment. Letting the males die frequently ensures rapid mutation and adaptation.

    We are now in the "smart" era, where genetic mutation is less important to our species' adaptability (we can instead adapt by changing our technology) - but we haven't been in that stage for long, and so we should expect that a lot of things about our instinctive behavior will still be based on the previous era.

    For example, I think it is no accident that European people tend to have broad shoulders, and during the Medieval era Europe was the continent that put the most focus on wearing heavy metal armor during combat. It's possible that even that brief a period of time (about 1000 years) was enough to change the average shoulder span on European males.
    Evolution doesn't quite work as you are picturing it. In a population with a large genetic diversity, the random deaths caused by murder and war don't make any evolutionary difference at all. The only time evolution comes into play is when the deaths are not random such as during the plague. In this case any homo sapiens or neanderthals that had a natural genetic resistance to the plague would tend to survive to pass their genetic advantage on to future generations. If there was any mutation going on at all, it had already happened in the past.
    War deaths are not all that random, and in ancient wars they were much less random than they are today because battle was more close up and personal skill mattered more. Even more importantly, success at war guaranteed breeding opportunities, because the winner tended to get the best mates. When whole tribes were victorious, the war leaders of those tribes were elevated in status so they got first pick of food, stuff, wealth - you name it.

    In Medieval times, success in battle was pretty much the only way for a peasant to rise into the nobility. Even if a prominent noble had only one wife, he'd likely get lots of mistresses.


    Also, I'm not very sure your armor example means much as most of the European males didn't ware any armor. Even most solders didn't wear heavy armor. That kind of armor was very expensive and only knights with wealth could afford it.
    It's true only a few had armor.

    But I think you may be underestimating the degree to which knights had access to breeding opportunities. Even the bastard children of nobles were afforded privileges far in excess of anything the peasantry got. You can well imagine that many peasant women wanted to be mothers of those bastard children.

    But in the case of having large shoulders, that could be more of a sexual selection part of evolution. If the females liked men with large shoulders better, then men with large shoulders would have better chance of breeding than those without large shoulders.

    As a general rule, whatever body type the rich have immediately becomes stylish with everyone else.

    The rich people of Medieval Europe wore armor. Even merchants (to protect against assassins.)
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  61. #161  
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    War deaths are not all that random, and in ancient wars they were much less random than they are today because battle was more close up and personal skill mattered more.
    Not really. Most deaths in war were from non-battle injuries such as camp diseases, minor non-battle injuries turned infectious, exposure and others. Though I can't find any detailed studies of middle age campaigns, it is well documented that more than 80% of deaths during the American Revolution for example (the British did better because of strictly enforced camp standards), were from non-battle related injuries (http://www.taphilo.com/history/war-deaths.shtml) ; it is likely earlier wars had similar ratios. There's also nothing very personal about being stricken by one of thousands arrows pounding a small area.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; May 15th, 2014 at 12:21 PM.
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  62. #162  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    War deaths are not all that random, and in ancient wars they were much less random than they are today because battle was more close up and personal skill mattered more.
    Not really. Most deaths in war were from non-battle injuries such as camp diseases, minor non-battle injuries turned infectious, exposure and others. Though I can't find any detailed studies of middle age campaigns, it is well documented that more than 80% of deaths during the American Revolution for example (the British did better because of strictly enforced camp standards), were from non-battle related injuries (http://www.taphilo.com/history/war-deaths.shtml) ; it is likely earlier wars had similar ratios. There's also nothing very personal about being stricken by one of thousands arrows pounding a small area.
    From the point of view that solders are more able bodied than men in the general population, yes that makes them less than random. So any deaths in this group would seem to actually cause a negative evolution in that a larger percentage of able bodied men will be lost for whatever reason in conflicts. After all women can only select men that are alive and available, so the less able bodied men will be a lot more numerous during these times of conflict.

    I'm not sure I really believe that, but in any event other than being physically fit, solder selection is fairly random in the population and the deaths of a percentage of that group shouldn't really affect the evolution of the species very much.

    However if we are just talking about primitive tribes of people where all the men are killed and the women taken. The winners will get more genetic diversity and will greatly benefit evolutionarily speaking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    War deaths are not all that random, and in ancient wars they were much less random than they are today because battle was more close up and personal skill mattered more.
    Not really. Most deaths in war were from non-battle injuries such as camp diseases, minor non-battle injuries turned infectious, exposure and others. Though I can't find any detailed studies of middle age campaigns, it is well documented that more than 80% of deaths during the American Revolution for example (the British did better because of strictly enforced camp standards), were from non-battle related injuries (http://www.taphilo.com/history/war-deaths.shtml) ; it is likely earlier wars had similar ratios. There's also nothing very personal about being stricken by one of thousands arrows pounding a small area.
    Yes, it might not have been just survival of the beefiest, but survival of who had the best immune system once they got injured - even the smallest cut.

    I often wonder if some of the traits humans take the most pride in weren't actually factors in natural selection, or were only indirectly selected for because of some other seemingly ridiculous, but never the less life saving or enhancing advantage. Such as survival of the least annoying. Survival of those who go to bed early. Survival of those who tell funny jokes. Survival of those who can detect when a large object is about to fall on their head. Survival of the guy who convinces the big, broad shoulder medieval armor wearing guy to go fight his wars - how come so many politically powerful, rich men are not attractive, broad shouldered specimens if what Kojax says is true?
    Last edited by DianeG; May 16th, 2014 at 02:19 AM.
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    Could it just be that we have different morals? Humanity hasn't changed in many fundamental ways since we become behaviourally modern (about 50,000 years ago, though IMHO this is moot). I think as we were more connected with nature, we were more eager to accept death readily. If living in Paleolithic times, though it's possible we had some very basic medicine back then, even a minor injury could turn lethal or fatal over time.

    I'd also say that perhaps early modern humans were able to communicate over long distances, which Neanderthals didn't. A band of modern humans living in what is now modern day France may communicate long distance to a band in, say, what is now Germany that a strange people who look, sound and act like we do is living here and they have access to tools we've never seen before, so bring your band and we trade with them.

    It's moot as to whether Neanderthals had such long-distance communications links.
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