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Sex-Based Roles Gave Modern Humans an Edge, Study Says

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posted on Jan, 9 2007 @ 02:22 AM
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(I am not sure if this is the right place for this topic, so i apologise if it is in the wrong section)

"A division of labor according to sex and age gave modern humans an advantage over Neandertals, a new study says.

The emergence of "female labor roles" played an important role in human evolutionary history, because it allowed early-human hunter-gatherer societies to draw on more food resources and live in larger communities, researchers say.

It may help explain why the Neandertals (also spelled "Neanderthals"), who occupied Europe until modern humans arrived some 45,000 years ago, went extinct";

news.nationalgeographic.com...

Personally, i don't think it was sex-based roles that gave us the advantage over our ancient human cousins, but simply the fact that there is an awful lot more evidence that we had people, even whole groups of them living in the same quarters, who specialised in performing/producing better tools, clothes, food, hunting, jewellery making etc.
I can imagine that the typical group of modern humans would consist of those who specialised in these sorts of tasks as well as people who were also taught the basics of how to survive in general until they decided on a particular profession as well. If you don't have to go out and hunt every day, but instead concentrate on making needles or stone tools spear heads, scrappers or knives for other people in return they supply you with food and you supple them with the particular goods you are making, then it gives both people a lot more time to perfect their skills on such area's.
Neandertal weapons, although sophisticated in their own way, hardly compare at all to the stone tools that we were making at any given time- our tools are lighter, more efficient at doing their job and took more skill to make. This leads me to believe that the reason why Neandertals produced a lower quality/less advanced and smaller selection of stone tools was not due to lack of intelligence, but rather due to the way their societies were structured, did not encourage people to specialise in certain arts. This is why their technology progressed very slowly (which inevitable lead to things like a less varied diet), while ours came on in leaps and bounds.

I am sure that Neandertals went extinct due to climate change related events- IMHO, we simply were never in large enough numbers to make any impact competition-wise on their population, Neandertals were more at risk from being out-competed for their food by wolves than from us, there is also next to no evidence for any conflict between us and them. It is also now known that their numbers started to fall before we even encountered them too, so at least to a certain extent we are not to blame for their demise.

What I think happened was that Neandertals became specialised in the animals they preyed on, and not the way they organised their societies. Their diet was not very varied and concentrated largely on big game, while we concentrated on a variety of animals (everything from birds or fish to deer etc) and had a much larger non-animal product aspect to our diet than theirs (like the eating of berries and plants or the grinding of grain).
When the climate started to change, the big game like giant Irish elk and mammoth were the first to suffer- the larger and more active the animal, the more food it needs, and these were large and active animals which not only lived in a harsh cold environment but also tended to specialise a lot in what they ate. So when the plants they ate as food started to die off or be replaced by other plants due to climate change, these animals plummeted in numbers along with the Neandertals.
(more in a mo)




posted on Jan, 9 2007 @ 02:23 AM
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Neandertal weapons also specialised a lot in killing big game and were pretty much useless against small game like elk which spent much of its time in open area’s and the Neandertals never had any real experience with hunting such animals, so were not able to take advantage of the rise in smaller and less specialised animals whose numbers were not depleted by climate change that we were able to hunt. We also know that Neandertals were actually more physically evolved to use the huge and heavy spear they carried, but unfortunately these spears were useless in comparison to the light weight ones we used to hunt animals on the open plains.


Modern humans also seemed to be a lot more active, while Neandertals tended to stay in the same place a lot- Humans came to try to live in Britain eight times and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions;

news.bbc.co.uk...

Because many of our early lifestyles concentrated on following migrating herds of animals, it would have been much easier for us to deal with the prospect of changes in the climate- Neandertals on the other hand seem to have preferred staying in caves and just trying to shelter themselves from the harsh effects of the ice age winters. This lifestyle would have made it more difficult for them to deal with the prospect of being forced to move out of their accommodation due to particularly extreme ice age winters. During a winter though that was worse enough for them to consider moving to a different location, this prospect may have already made it too late for the Neandertals to move out- there is evidence of cannibalism and starvation from Neandertal skeletons found in caves;

news.bbc.co.uk...

Towards the end of their existence in Europe, we now know that Neandertals were beginning to become more “modern” in their physique and habits/culture;

news.bbc.co.uk...

Its possible that this came about from them interbreeding and/or learning from us, it would make sense too that something like this would eventually would come about.
But I think in the end it was the way we structured our societies that made us superior to them survival wise and why they died out. Hmm…I am sure this is at least a large part of the reason any though- there are many pieces to the puzzle when it comes down to it, see another interesting discovery about Neandertals;

news.bbc.co.uk...

And Neandertal art discovered;

news.bbc.co.uk...


Every year we discover out own ancestors to be much more advanced earlier on history than what was previously thought, or our Neandertal cousins. It will be interesting to see how these histories progress over the course of 2007 and what new discoveries we will find.
Back with the gender role thing though- I think it is likely that sex-based roles have definitely played a part in our evolution, but I don’t think they have ever been very consistent throughout the population. I think it is more likely that some tribes or groups of people played more emphasis on sex-based roles than others (just like in today’s societies, some countries or religions have much more sex-based roles in their societies than in others). But regardless of gender, I think it’s the fact that we sat down and started to organise our societies so that we always had specialists and generalists (or jack of all trades) that gave us a big advantage. Neandertals don’t appear to have ever specialised in anything in their groups or played a large emphasis on tool making and producing art and jewellery. I think simply the way they lived for so long (even though seemed to make a big effort to change towards the end of their existence), made them less adaptable no matter how much potential they had to adapt.
What do you think about all this? What are your opinions or beliefs on this controversial topic?



posted on Jan, 9 2007 @ 02:30 PM
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Modern humans may have driven Neanderthals to extinction 30,000 years ago because Homo sapiens unlocked the secrets of free trade, say a group of US and Dutch economists.


here is the link to the full story:
www.newscientist.com...

As many links there are that state that neanderthals were extinct due to climate there are as many that state what i have provided in the link.



posted on Jan, 10 2007 @ 03:08 AM
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Originally posted by theTRUTHtheWAY

Modern humans may have driven Neanderthals to extinction 30,000 years ago because Homo sapiens unlocked the secrets of free trade, say a group of US and Dutch economists.


here is the link to the full story:
www.newscientist.com...

As many links there are that state that neanderthals were extinct due to climate there are as many that state what i have provided in the link.


Although trade would have given us a survival advantage, it wouldn't have killed off the Neandertals. Neandertals survived for tens of thousands of years (they actually went extinct 28,000 years ago) and lived for thousands of years long after our arival and contact.
I think climate change or desease/viruses that we brought out with our arrival (of which they would have had no immunity against) are the two most likely candidates for their extinction.



posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 01:34 AM
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Originally posted by Tokis Phoenix
I think climate change or desease/viruses that we brought out with our arrival (of which they would have had no immunity against) are the two most likely candidates for their extinction.

I didn't know this thread was about how Neanderthals went extinct. I thought it was sex-based differentiation of social roles and activities among early humans and its effects on the evolution of Homo sapiens.

I was drawn to the thread by its title, which promised a discussion on this fascinating subject. Sadly, that was not what I found. What I did find was a series of posts about how Neanderthals went extinct.

Would you like to discuss the topic advertised at all, or is this just another misnamed thread?



posted on Jan, 30 2007 @ 11:23 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax

Originally posted by Tokis Phoenix
I think climate change or desease/viruses that we brought out with our arrival (of which they would have had no immunity against) are the two most likely candidates for their extinction.

I didn't know this thread was about how Neanderthals went extinct. I thought it was sex-based differentiation of social roles and activities among early humans and its effects on the evolution of Homo sapiens.

I was drawn to the thread by its title, which promised a discussion on this fascinating subject. Sadly, that was not what I found. What I did find was a series of posts about how Neanderthals went extinct.

Would you like to discuss the topic advertised at all, or is this just another misnamed thread?



This is not a misnamed thread- if sex based roles gave us an advantage in evolution over out neandertal cousins (which you cannot ignore in the story of our evolution), then why and how? That is the discussion. I've given my opinions/views on both. If you have issues with the thread, take it to a mod, if you've just come to moan though....



[edit on 30-1-2007 by Tokis Phoenix]



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