Discussion in 'Human Science' started by pluto2, Oct 18, 2008.
Why did Homo Erectus and Cro-Magnon become extinct? What were the reasons for the extinction?
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I can't find the info on the extinction of H. erectus. It was one of the most successful early species of our genus, living around 1Mya. As far as we can tell, it was probably the first Homo species to migrate out of Africa. There is some controversial evidence that other species in the fossil record are descendants of erectus, in which case it would not be strictly correct to say that they are extinct. It's a linguistic controversy to say that an animal whose descendants are still alive is not properly extinct, even if it has evolved into a different species.
Do populations become extinct? Are the Babylonians, Harappans, Khazarians, Picts, Etruscans, etc., extinct? Some of them have descendants spread all over the globe.
Cro-Magnons are much more recent, around 50,000kya. Recent enough that we've been able to analyze remnants of their DNA and learn that they were merely one of the earliest communities of Homo sapiens to migrate into Europe. They were not a separate species. They were a population. Although in this case they probably have no descendants, since an ice age overcame Europe and the Neanderthals, who were better suited to frigid weather, migrated to the continent and took over for a while.
ED of course
I am not an anthropologist, but I would suspect that the development of the spoken language in Homo Sapiens may have had something to do with it. Imagine a group of hominids who could only speak through the use of gestures and vocalizations, as opposed to a group which could convey information vocally only and therefore had the use of both hands for fighting. This would certainly give homo sapiens a distinct advantage in a fight.
Latest theory is that homo sapiens and Neanderthal split from a common ancestor about 600-800,000 years ago. That ancestor split from homo erectus about 300,000 years before. Genetic analysis shows that homo sapiens did not "mix" with Neanderthal.
Whatever the advantage, homo sapiens replaced Neanderthal, and we are the result. I for one am happy because I really don't find that heavy browline to be particularly attractive, despite the Geico ads.
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I dunno --- I'm kinda partial to having huge bulbous noses, gigantic chins, and high natural resistance to cold - not to mention all that physical strength.
I was under the impression it was an issue of slow change, and cro-magnon/homo erectus simply represented significant stages in overall development and morphology. I didn't think it was an issue of one going 'extinct' in the sense that they were wiped out.
Homo sapiens and Neanderthals co-existed for a time. Evidence for Neanderthal habitation disappeared approximately 30,000 years ago. The two theories of the demise of Neanderthal were assimilation or replacement. A study of Neanderthal DNA (small pieces of DNA was able to be extracted from known 70 Neanderthal remains from 6 sites) and Homo Sapiens DNA indicates 26-27 differences and that there was very little assimilation.
I don't mean to imply that Homo Sapiens necessarily "wiped out" Neanderthals, although in reading through my previous post, it does seem that was what I said.
What I meant was that the ability of Homo Sapiens to use both hand in fighting or hunting, probably gave them an advantage of over Neanderthals, who it is surmised, had to use both vocalization AND hand gestures in communication. Two hands are better than one in most cases...
Most of this information came from a recent lecture I heard at Gustavus Adolphus College in Northfield, MN, given by Svante Paabo of Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology - Liepzig. He developed a technique of polymerase sequencing for DNA from extinct species.
On the first line, I was simply responding to your joke.
In the 2nd, I was referring to the OP's question. His assertion was Homo Erectus and Cro-Magnon went "extinct" - as if to say they "died off" rather than developed. In other words, I thought they were deprecated/unused human forms as opposed to separate entities from the main human herd.
Saw this in the store the other day: http://www.amazon.com/History-Channel-Clash-Cavemen/dp/B0016OKR2U/
Perhaps their brains were too big and took too many resources to maintain. Homo sapiens were smaller brained and that gave them a small advantage in lean times.
What does ED stand for? Evolutionary developement?
Is not both our ancestors? I do´nt know of other europeans at their time than "cro magnon" - except extinct "neanderthals".
Could it have been disease? If they had caught something like AIDS, would they have known sex was what transmitted it? Even if they had known, what could they have done about it?
M*W: I read somewhere that the Neanderthals were wiped out from autoimmunilogical disease from adding protein to their diet.
adding??? I thought most of their diet was protein.
Pääbo's research is intriguing but it clearly has not yet settled the question of hybridization between H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis. All of the material I find indicates that he needs to do a little more work first before the word "suggests" is replaced by "proves." There is still plenty of fossil evidence--and some DNA--suggesting that the two species did indeed interbreed.
Indeed. Humans are the only apes who have adapted to a truly carnivorous diet. Our intestines have shortened to the point that we've completely lost the ability to digest cellulose, which allows other primates to subsist by grazing for their calorie requirement and eating just a bit of animal tissue for protein--frogs, arthropods, larva, etc... yuucch! We have to eat meat because it's the only major source of nutrition that we can digest. Sure like most animals we can get energy from fruits, and nuts (and some seeds) are good sources of protein, but just there aren't enough of those to sustain a population.
It wasn't until we invented the technology of cooking, which I gather is far less than one million years old, that we were able to break down the cellulose and not only digest it for its starch content but also unlock the protein in grains and other cellulose-jacketed seeds.
Make no mistake, humans are predators by biology, and we have the instinct to go with it. This is not to say that with our modern technology we can't find a way to overcome that instinct and learn to live on imitation soy loaf--double yuucch! But it will be just as difficult as overcoming the other Stone Age instincts that still hold us back, such as the pack-social instinct which motivates us to feel hostility toward other clans because they must be competitors for our scarce hunting and gathering area.
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