Free Trade Caused the Neanderthals to go Extinct?

According to this article. According to the article, to be published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, computer simulations indicate that neanderthals were done in by free trade. From the article:

“He cites archaeological evidence that suggests that humans, who joined Neanderthals in Europe about 40,000 years ago, specialised and traded both within and between regions. The evidence includes complex living quarters with different sections partitioned for different functions. Neanderthals, in contrast, lived in “largely unorganised” living spaces. (The Mousterian tool tradition was also fairly uniform acrioss a wide geographic area -afarensis)

There is also evidence that the early humans, mainly one population called the Gravettians, imported materials. Ivory, stones, fossils, seashells and crafted tools were found dispersed through many regions. This greater pool of resources led to increased innovation, says Shogren.”


“Shogren tested his theory with simulations of population growth. He even gave the Neanderthals, who were larger than Homo sapiens, a head start by assuming they were better hunters and individually brought home more meat – which may or may not be true.

But because humans were allowed to trade, in two of three similar simulations, they overcame this initial handicap and ousted the Neanderthals within 7000 years. In the third simulation, the two ended up co-existing.”

I hasten to say, that I am not convinced. Many theories have been proposed for the extinction of the neanderthals. Among them this theory climing cold temperatures killed them off (even though most paleoanthropologists see a lot of “cold adapted” traits in neanderthal anatomy).

3 Responses

  1. Do you have a favorite neanderthal theory? I’ve always hoped for evidence that would show co-existence. I have a fondness for them, and would like to think their genes have somehow been passed on. I’ve seen some pretty pronounced brow ridges in the general population… although I’m not sure it always accompanies a larger brain.

  2. Okay, close your eyes and imagine my gravetar with a realy wild shock of Gene Wilder hair. Imagine it doing a realy good Gene Wilder ala Young Frankenstein impersonation shouting “Ralph Solecki Rules!” Okay, got that out of my system. You can open your eyes now.
    All my paleoanthro teachers were mulitregional continuity devotees. One of them studied under Milford Wolpoff. So I tend to think their was some gentetic assimilation going on, there is some inconclusive evidence in that area. There is also some evidence that would indicate that some of the traits we associate with neanderthals were also present (in small numbers) in early anatomical modern human populations. I don’t mean to cop out but I have yet to hear a theory I completely agree with. I do think it was probably a combination of things – including competion with Homo sapiens sapiens that led to the demise of the nearderthals. One of the little mentioned versions of the Out of Africa theory is out of Africa with assimilation – which is were I tend to be theory wise these days.

    (Oh, and for those of you who don’t know much about paleoanthropology Ralph Solecki is the man who discovered flower pollen in the neanderthal burials at Shanidar.)

  3. It was the flower pollen at Shanidar that made me a Neanderthal fan. It always bothered me to think that the contemporary anatomically correct humans survived, wiped out this other group who were burying their dead so ceremoniously, and then adopted some of their successful behaviors. But, then again, it does explain our behavior nowadays. I see our future in how our ancestors behaved, so to speak.

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