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12_1 H. sapiens neandertalensis_Lecture Script.pdf

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Simon Fraser University
ARCH 131
Dennis Sandgathe

UNIT 12 HOMO SAPIENS NEANDERTHALENSISTHE NEANDERTALS Slide 1 Title slide Slide 2 Neandertals are our closest hominin relative both in time and likely genetically They were also among the first fossil hominins that were discovered because they lived in Europe where the earliest research began We also have more Neandertal remains recovered from Europe and Western Asia than any other hominin species besides recent modern humans and so far they are only one of three species of hominin including us from which we have so far recovered DNA Because of all these factors Neandertals hold a certain special place in the popular view of ancient humans and their origins Neandertal have made their way into many facets of popular culturethey are the stereotypic cavemen We likely know more about Neandertals than any other premodern hominin and yet there is still a lot that we dont know In point of fact there is still significant debate over whether they should be considered a separate species Homo neanderthalensis or are more accurately viewed as just a subspecies of ours Homo sapiens neanderthalensis Although up to this point the community of Neandertal researchers have been divided on this the recent discovery of segments of Neandertal DNA in some modern people indicates that we could interbreed with them which based on the biological definition of species means that we and Neandertals do belong to a single species There has also long been division among researchers about how Neandertals should realistically be depicted These differing views tend to swing from seeing Neandertals as uncultured brutes to seeing them as really no different from us modern humansDuring the late 1800s and early 1900s researchers like Arthur Keith and Marcellin Boule maintained the idea of the primitiveness and brutishness of Neandertals Marcellin Boule in particular represented those researchers who saw Neandertals as being very different and much more primitive than us Then in the mid1900s there was a general shift in attitudes toward the idea that Neandertals were not any culturally or cognitively inferior to us and that in fact they represented a species that had been much more in tune with nature and their environment than we modern humans had been in a very long time Today there is still a range of views among researchers that while perhaps not quite as extreme as these earlier ones come into conflict in the literature from time to time One brief note here The name Neandertal is spelled both with and without an H after the T Both spellings are correct The original word was spelled without an H but during the 1800s changes in common German spelling included changing T to TH is some words Including my own last name Sandgathe More recently however there has been a shift back towards spelling Neandertal without the H You can put the H in or leave it out as you prefer Slide 3 We were briefly introduced to some of the early Neandertal discoveries in the initial lectures but lets just do a quick review here to bring us back up to speedThe very first Neandertal discovery that we know about was in 1839 when the remains of a child were found in Engis Cave Belgium However these remains went unrecognized for almost 80 yearsIn 1848 a complete adult cranium was discovered in a site called Forbes Quarry in Gibraltar This fossil also went unnoticed for about a decadeThen in 1856 in Felderhofer Cave in the Neander Valley in West Germany quarry workers discovered the almost complete skeleton of an older Neandertal man This was the first Neandertal to come to the attention of scientists and began the debate about what they represented It was a major impetus for the start of serious research into Human origins
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