Of course, humans have a culture, but it seems that the other humanoid species on the planet were working their way toward that goal as well. Despite Neanderthals having existed long, long ago, they still seemed to have a little bit of culture of their own. Researchers who have found Neanderthal burial sites have also discovered that the graves – which in and of themselves are evidence of a little bit of culture – were also filled up with flowers.
Not only is this practice something that tells us there was communication between the groups of Neanderthals, but it’s also evidence of a rudimentary religion or at least some respect for the dead of a kind. It’s hard for anybody to say that those things couldn’t possibly mean culture.
From Small Beginnings
There are a little under eight billion people on Earth, and our rate of growth is slowly increasing. It took us about a hundred thousand years to reach a billion people, but only 133 years to reach two billion people. After that, it was a mere forty-four years to DOUBLE the world’s population. We’re an expansive species – we fill the space we have, and we’re always looking for more space. It’s predicted that we’ll hit the eight-billion-people line in 2025.
But we started with a very small number of people. It’s thought that an illness wiped out all but two thousand humans back in seventy thousand B.C., making us an endangered species. The theory about this disease is that it was something that can still knock us down even today: tuberculosis.
Symmetry Is Good
There’s been a lot of research into what makes people attractive to others, but one thing that has constantly been found to make people attractive – sexy, beautiful, handsome, whatever – is a symmetrical face. You might think that your face is symmetrical – an eye on either side, two ears, a nose that isn’t crooked – but we’re talking about PERFECTLY symmetrical. And when we get right down to it, nobody’s face is perfectly symmetrical.
In fact, if you saw someone with a perfectly symmetrical face, you’d probably be a little creeped out by it. Symmetry was a good indicator of proper genes for some reason, which is why we find those people attractive – those good genes will probably mean healthy children. Remember, it’s all about making good kids. Either that or finding food.
The Big Mount Toba Blast
Mount Toba is found on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, and when it blew its top around seventy-four thousand years ago, it was the most massive eruption the world had seen for approximately two million years. It blew an intense amount of rubble and ash into the air, which caused temperatures to drop quickly, creating a volcanic winter so bad that it almost drove humans to extinction.
However, some groups were able to flourish during this time. As far away as South Africa, evidence of Toba ash has been found, as well as evidence that the early humans who lived there not only survived but thrived. More than four hundred thousand artifacts have been recovered that showed they knew tools, how to make fire, and had generational homes.
How Were Neanderthals Different?
Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens weren’t the same creatures, but they were pretty close. They likely had a shared ancestor species, but their competition with Homo Sapiens didn’t really go their way – which should have been easy to tell, since we’re here on Earth and they aren’t. However, these creatures were actually stronger than Homo Sapiens.
On the other hand, they were shorter and had a smaller prefrontal cortex – which leads many to believe they could win the species war due to their inability to figure out problems like their Homo Sapien cousins could. Scientists aren’t actually sure why the Neanderthals died out. There’s a whole lot of history there, and a lot of things that could have happened. Their best bet is that Homo Sapiens were at least a big help.