Sometimes you might forget, but every one of us is still at risk from covid-19, but every time we do the right thing, we're protecting ourselves and the people around us. So next time you meet up, just take a step back. Let's all keep cleaning those hands and wear a face covering when you're shopping around public transport, if you cough or sneeze covers or have a tissue handy and don't know the Cobra tracker app to be one in more than a million because covid-19 is still a problem and we're all the answer from the hejazi.
I'm thrilled to say this episode of history, it is brought to you by Vodafone, Curiosity has no limits of Vodafone. You can follow your curiosity with unlimited data on Ireland's best performing mobile network. Like I am old enough to remember the world before unlimited data.
But I just still to this day, don't really know what we did. I guess we had to. I thought we had to prepare things to use books and like have dossiers with us. I got a question for you. You can find out the answer in the break that comes in this podcast. But this is one that you can try and look up using your Vodafone Unlimited data. I'd Professor Bartlett on the podcast the other day, and he's identified 27 female monarchs in medieval Europe, 27 queen pregnant women actually ruled in their own right in medieval Europe, but none of them were from Ireland.
None of them appear in the list of high kings or any of the other kings. Guess why? Find out during the break. The other day, I drove from Cork to Dublin, right. And on the fly, using my Vodafone unlimited data, I was able just to plot this itinerary. We checked out these amazing castles. We did care, Castle. We checked out the Rock of Cashel. I mean, that place is unbelievable. And then we went to Don Imus and then my family went completely mad and didn't let me stop anywhere else.
But I mean, that was all just done in the passenger seat of a car as my wife was driving and my kids were all screaming in the back. And I was able to do that with the supercomputer in my hand connected to the World Wide Web, thanks to Vodafone. You know what? You people are fans of history. That's why I listen to this podcast.
You've got to get best performing network. I don't want those networks. There's good in the cities. You want one that when you are in the middle of nowhere, you got decent signal because you've got to research what's going on around you. You got to work out which castle is that. There's Hoving into view on the horizon.
It's just a beautiful thing. Let your whole family follow their curiosity when you bring everyone's plans together on our multi mobile read family plan, search Vodafone, read family for more hardbody.
What contains no history? We're going way back. We're going way back in this episode. You know, I sometimes like a bit of prehistory. We're going way back to the Neanderthals. They're in all of us. It turns out the latest thinking that the science has changed extraordinarily over the last twenty years. It's super exciting. We no longer think Neanderthals were a genetic cul de sac, an evolutionary cul de sac, but they're that traces of them lived in all of us.
I love this. If you want to go and and listen to all the back episodes of this podcast, we go all the way from the Stone Age right up until the new to the digital age. Yeah. In fact, if we do all of that, we cover all of history. So if you want to do that, if you you're binge listen, these long summer days, please do. So history hit TV. If you use the code pod one, pod one, you get one month of free and then you get a month for just one pound euro or dollar.
But this episode is with Rebecca Wragg SAIC's. She's just written a fabulous book. I'm enjoying it so much. It's my holiday reading. I'm enjoying it so much. The moment kindred, you got to go and check it out. Transforming the way that we think about our own humanity. Not every book you read does not. Sorry. Rebecca Sites, fantastic book. Fantastic interview. Here it is. Enjoy.
Rebecca, thank you very much for coming on the podcast. Well, thank you so much for inviting me. This is really great. I am a huge fan of Neandertals and they're kind of and the fact that we're we're we're kind of reviving them. You know, when I was growing up, the Neanderthal, it was actually a drug. It was a pejorative. Right. People used it to say this person's idea. But we now your description of them is just the picture of a hugely sophisticated.
How do we describe the species?
Oh, well, that's a can of worms in the first instance. But a species has different definitions. Primarily Kanta organisms breed and produce viable offspring. Then they are kind of the same species. But within zoology, there is a there's a concept this kind of useful, which is alow taxa, which is where you might apply to things like the fact that a yak can make babies with a cow. So they're different species, but they're very closely related.
So I think that's more how we should be thinking about about us and Neanderthals, because we've not been separated from them that long, somewhere around 700000 years ago, and our branch split off from the branch that was leading to them. And that's not far off the same period in time that the chimpanzees split from the bonobos or pygmy chimpanzees, as they're sometimes called. So they look very different and they are behaviorally different. So that's that's a good comparison.
OK, so 70000 years ago, what's going on?
Who is where and what are we drinking, what? Seven hundred thousand years ago? Neanderthals are not really Neanderthals yet. That's before them.
Our paths are still the same at that point. Yeah. So we are we're a homo. We're from the homo branch in terms of deeper hominid evolution. And so if you go back to, say, like three million years ago, you have small creatures that are still relatively ape in some ways. They don't have very large brains, but they are fully bipedal and they are making stone tools, lyrics. The oldest record that we have now for that in Africa is three point three million years with essentially quite simple knapping.
It's using stone and you kind of just hit it on the anvil. So it's not really knapping that you would think of as somebody sitting there making an axe. And as you go through time about two million years ago, you get things that are starting to look a bit more like us early homo species, and by about one point eight to one point five million years ago in Africa. And you have the emergence of Homo ergaster, which is the name that we now use for what everybody used to call Homo erectus, essentially very humanlike in body.
The brain is not so big. There are differences, but they are fully upright.
They're quite tall, actually, and they're definitely living a Hunter-Gatherer lifestyle. We have footprint sites from around a lake where we can basically see them. Stalking animals around a lake is amazing. So that's really one and a half million years ago, well before the Neanderthals.
So if you sort of seem forward, we don't quite know where the split between us and the branch that was going to lead to Neanderthals happened. But on the balance, it's probably going to be in Africa and.
The the split leading to us, you shouldn't kind of think of it necessarily as like just a branch, like a straight path.
What we see from from the archaeology, not so much the archaeology, but the anatomy and the genetics is really suggesting that our own lineage evolved almost as like a meta population and different subpopulations across the continent in Africa almost show sort of a mosaic of features anatomy. And it looks like there probably was far more contact and interbreeding between those. And that coalesced over time into what looks like us in Africa about between about 300 and 150000 years ago. So that's quite late, really.
It took us all that time to to become something that really looks like like you and me. And if we then look at what was going on with Neanderthals and the branch that was going to lead to them, we would call them Neanderthal survivors because that branch then split not too long after, probably about six hundred thousand years.
One sort of population is turning into the Neanderthals in Europe. Probably the other branch is going to become the Denisova, this other kind of hominid that has only really recently been identified initially purely from genetics and which is amazing in itself, that we can sort of pick out this ghost hominid that we knew nothing about and they were an Asian species.
By the look of it, we know very little about them. We've got just a handful of fossils and we don't really understand exactly where they fit archaeologically in terms of their culture. But the Neanderthals certainly, and what we might call Proteau Neanderthals are appearing in Europe by around 430000 years ago. And we have really great fossil evidence for that from Spain.
And sort of if you force fast-Forward a hundred thousand years onwards to about three hundred and fifty thousand years ago, it still sounds like a hugely long time. But on that massive scale, back to three million years, it's very recent and that is when Neanderthals proper emerged.
And what we would really recognize in terms of their anatomy and also their culture, the middle Paleolithic is what we call that. And their their way of life is by that point, quite clearly established. Top hunters already experimenting with different materials for for using tools and things like this. So that's that's really the point at which they they've arrived, if you want it that way.
So you've got record still, Robosapien? Yeah. Yeah. We're Homo sapiens.
I would call people who were around at the same time as Neanderthals or call them early Homo sapiens, basically just to differentiate from us.
Yeah. Early versions of us. Then you've also got some traditions knocking about potentially as well in Asia. Yeah.
And so you have got different like very closely related human hominid species. OK, so obviously first question is Neanderthals and humans were able to breed, were they.
Yes, we know we first found that out for sure a decade ago. There was a long, long, long debate sort of beginning in the 90s really, and moving onwards that there were two models. One was that hominids in general were quite widespread across the old-world early, you know, from a million plus they were outside Africa. There was an idea that there was always interconnectedness between different populations across the old world in a slow, organic kind of way.
But the proposal was that there was some gene flow and that within different regions, different hominids emerged but also interacted.
And then against that was a different view, that Homo sapiens emerged only in Africa and then dispersed out of Africa.
This was the Out of Africa theory and essentially replaced the existing archaic in species that were all around the rest of the old world.
And that was it, that there was no like interbreeding. It was just swept away, basically. And the first genetic material that was found was from the mitochondrial genome, which is like the powerhouse cells in your body that seem to support that because there was basically no no sense that Neanderthals had contributed anything to our anti DNA. The problem is the DNA is only from. Maternal lines, so it's not going to tell the whole picture, so it was only 10 years ago that we first got our first real look at a nuclear genome.
They were they were not as complete and as high resolution as we can get now with good fossils. But it showed definitely that there was a signal suggesting that people outside subsaharan Africa were more similar to Neanderthals than people in that region, which was definitely a really strong hint that there had been some interbreeding. And since then, it's just gone, you know.
Crazy that there is so much more evidence now, and I think that's something that's really hard for people to keep track of. I think most people, most people know, oh, we integrate rather than, you know, but but the amount of different kinds of evidence for that and the picture that we now have, that there were probably multiple phases of contact and interbreeding potentially going back before 200000 years ago, maybe even before two hundred and seventy thousand years ago.
That's a big change. So it looks like there were earlier dispersals of early Homo sapiens and people were essentially looking pretty much like us out from Africa into at least Asia, the Near East, through the Near East and across into Asia. And based on fossil evidence, it now looks as if people were in China by at least between 80000, perhaps as much as 120000 years ago. And we have good evidence based on the archaeology and genetics from Australia that Aboriginal people's history goes back sixty five thousand years ago and they had to get there.
So that's pushing that back. That much is this Asian chronology. And then we also have from the Near East in Israel, we have a site now which looks as if the fossil is looking pretty much like Homo sapiens, and that's one hundred and eighty thousand years ago. So that dispersal of when people began to move outside Africa has been pushed way back in time, which means that the scope of when we could have been interacting with Neanderthals has massively widened.
And that's exactly what we see from the genetics. It is pointing from multiple different samples suggesting that there were different periods during which these populations were meeting and. Probably in very different social settings. There was interaction and breeding hybrid babies, and so as a Western European, I am more like our DNA, right, than someone tells me.
That's what that's what people used to think, because people used to see Europe as the Neanderthals heartland. But really, they are a Eurasian species. If you look at it graphically, if you plot all their sites out and look geographically at the spread, there's actually more into Asia than in Europe. So there they always a Eurasian species. And what seems to have happened, although genetics is extremely fast moving, every sample we get has the potential to really change the picture because we have so few at the moment.
So we have to bear that in mind that things can can shift somewhat. But at the moment it looks like we were probably moving, dispersing out of Africa, but we didn't get anywhere near Europe for a long time. And we may have been sort of around the edges in the Near East, in Israel, but it looks as if the populations that dispersed from Africa that went across into Asia did encounter Neanderthals and living people from East Asia as well as other regions in Oceania.
So Papuans, they have more.
Neanderthal in their genome than Western Europeans, and that's partly because Western Europeans are not an ancestral population that have been in Europe for all this time, they are Neolithic peoples for the most part. So when you're talking about ice age, humans, Homo sapiens, people hunting in Europe and the upper Perisic who made the cave art, that's not the ancestors of most living Western Europeans.
Those populations also were replaced successively through later prehistory. And so that's something that's often a surprise.
We like to say, oh, we're a success. You know, we're so here, Neanderthals aren't. But those early populations that we see in Europe, those early hunter gatherers, they're not really much to do with the present day European population. Those people came from the Near East. So that's why you have lower amounts in Western Europeans than in East Asians of Neanderthal DNA. But the other interesting thing is that although potentially somewhere up to 20 to 50 percent of the whole Neanderthal genome might be preserved in living people, it's not all the same bits in different groups.
And that's probably because all these different phases of when people are encountering each other different material, you know, went over, or rather it would take the diversity of the existing populations that were interacted with. But then what was kept in us varied. So it looks like genes to do with immunity were definitely something that was important for us. And that's kept but not everything is the same across living people as to what you've actually got.
Okay, so we are talking too much about Homo sapiens. We we're so far we have to talk about Neanderthals, so let's just ignore those extremes.
And so when you do get a a group of Neanderthals pretty contact with proto Homo sapiens, what tell me what how do they live? What do we know about them? How are they how are they different to what we would become?
Well, we know an awful lot now. It's 160 odd years since we first discovered Neanderthals or rediscovered them in the mid 19th century.
And the the change in what the pioneer historians had to deal with in terms of the material they could use and their methods of analysis is enormous. So, you know, I think their jaws would really drop at what 21st century archaeologists can actually do.
You know, we can look from Stonefield assemblages to the kinds of animals they eat, but we can go right down to, you know, microscale analysis. We can look at the grot in the calculus on Neanderthal teeth to see what they ate. We can actually see like traces of smoke in the dental calculus and we can examine the micro structure of an individual hearth to assess how many phases of burning it had, whether the temperatures of burning were different. And you might want to know that because that can tell you things about how that site was used.
Did people did Neanderthals reuse that hearth in one place? Did they use it for different things, which tells you a lot about how organized their lives were. So this we kind of have to have to tack between different scales of our data and they'll tell us different things. But we can then stitch that together into into a narrative of their lives. But it's still completely grounded in the archaeology. And that's that's exactly what we've tried to do in the book.
So tell me, OK, so what's a night out with Neanderthals like? I mean, we are they were using their hearts. Are they moving all the time? What are they eating?
The impression we get really is that for almost all of their period of existence compared to early Homo sapiens of the same time contemporaries, they were living pretty similar lives. People were in small groups, Neanderthals. It looks like they were never large sort of agglomerations of people. They were not staying for months and months at a time in a single site, in a cave or a rock shelter.
They were highly mobile, but that doesn't mean that they were disorganized or unsystematic. The impression that we get is that they they knew the land intimately. They knew the places to be at the right time. So they would we have evidence from some places that there they are at sites and they are targeting particular animals at different times of the year, different seasons. And so this sites in Spain where it looks like they're hunting the deer all year round. We can tell that because of the wear on the animal's teeth varies depending on the kind of diet it has through the year.
And the deer, like they were there all the time, whereas the horse all looked like they were taken during a short period of time. Not necessarily all the horses in that site were killed in one particular season and lack of one year. But it's a seasonal signature. So there is structure. And then if you transpose that to look at the what they're doing within the space of a site, again, that picture's really changed that for a long time, people.
And sort of presented and it tells us not really much more organized than hyenas in their dens, you know, coming in food, making fire and sort of just trashing everything and leaving.
But when we use really high resolution analysis with good sites where the preservation is very good, we can definitely see clear patterns in how they were using their space. And so you have the heart. I mean, Hask are obviously a center of activity. And we know that we built our houses around the hearth still. But we can literally see, you know, the the halo of artifacts around hearth where they were sitting and organizing their their daily work around the fire.
There are different hearts at the back of the cave that look like they were burning differently, smoldering probably. Those are sleeping hearth to warm them because they're going to sleep at the back of the cave with your back to the to the rock, because there's a lot of nasty beasts around.
And we can also see in in several sites, really good evidence now for middens. So active management of waste, you know, rubbish piles, basically. And we know that by looking at the the structuring. So like the layering within those middens, we can see evidence for burning of plant materials, which was probably bedding. We can see layers of charcoal and ash from where they've reached out their hearths to like freshen them up and then dumped that as well.
So there's clear evidence that they were living in a way that would not look unfamiliar. You know, if you sort of are suddenly transported back, it would look like people, you know, just getting on doing this stuff around the fire. There's a rubbish dump, there's a sleeping bit, and then we can see really cool stuff. In some places, there's evidence for animal processing. So they are hunting up in the landscape. They have kill sites quite often at the kill sites, depending on the size and the species of the animals.
They will be selective about what they butchered, how much they carried away. And then you have sometimes secondary processing sites where they bring jointed stuff in, cut it up, more smashup, the bones get the marrow out because we have to remember that they were really interested in fattened and marrow, not just lean meat. And then that stuff sometimes then gets taken off further or it goes direct from the kill site to caves and rock shelters.
And we can see once it arrives, in some places there is appears to be processing of different parts of animals in different parts of the site.
So that may be to do with the number of people staying there at any one time. The kind of make up of the group might change how they did their butchery, for example, whether they separated a whole carcass and different perhaps subfamilies within a group got a different part. But the impression we get clearly is that, you know, they were not, I guess, sort of scrabbling around a killing and everyone just grabbing what they could get. And it was chaotic.
It was always systematic, their butchery. They knew exactly how to take an animal. They knew the best bits to take back with them. And the impression really is of sharing of that resource amongst the group. So I think that's something that's that really has wider resonances for how we see their society as a whole.
Sean had no idea what would be in the envelope when his postman dropped it off, now that he's opened it. He's none the wiser. Not that it matters. A picture from his knees always gives him a smile. And when he walks out, it's actually a portrait of her favorite uncle surrounded by love hearts.
He'll be smiling for the rest of the day, send art, send scribbles, send love at your local post office or online and on post.com and post for your world.
Isn't a curious that every member of your family has a different voice, that a baby can recognize their mother's voice from inside the womb, that identical twins have the exact same vocal chords but usually don't sound similar. And teenagers can sense the tone of their dad's voice when he says, I'll think about it even over WhatsApp, I'll think about it.
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So the question I posed at the start of this podcast was why in the whole of Europe are there Quin's regnant during the medieval period but not in Ireland? And the answer Professor Bartlett gave me is because it was customary for Irish kings take many wives. So there was never a shortage of sons. Whereas over in England, over in France and elsewhere, those those kings, they just had one wife. I mean, the old mistress, like Henry, the first and a lot of illegitimate children, but they were excluded from the line of succession is an island.
Plenty of wives, plenty of sons, no shortage. Family is fascinating. You know what? Use your Vodafone unlimited data. Have a little Google. Prove me wrong. Send me a tweet. I'd love to know if there are any queens. Let your whole family follow their curiosity when you bring everyone's plans together on our multi mobile read family plan. Such Vodafone read family for more. To take one brief moment to pause and say are unbelievably cool is that you can reconstruct that that that journey of from a hunt to a kill to a butchery process to a night sleeping at 300000 years.
I mean, sorry to interrupt.
I mean, I'm just like it's just a lot of those sites with really good condition or later they're like 100000 or a bit later. But you do still have really, really nice, nicely preserved early sites. The one that's really famous is Scheveningen in Germany, which is a horse hunting site where Neanderthals went back repeatedly, potentia for decades, maybe centuries to this lakeshore, and they hunted horses, probably ambushing them and they have them using spears. We know that because the spears are there and these amazingly finely crafted and spruce and pine spears probably throwing because they are they appear to be weighted like javelins.
And that site is thirty thousand years old.
Unbelievable. Can I say why? I mean, are they they sound I don't want to make any great claims for our species, but it's as sophisticated as Homo sapiens. I mean, like, is there any difference really in the sites?
There is. And what seems to be intriguing is that the early Homo sapiens coming into Europe say hundred and eighty thousand. We don't know that much about and about them. We have their fossils, but we haven't really sort of got a handle on exactly what archaeology and things they were producing. But if you look, say, from about 40000 years ago, which is the last dispersal probably of our species into Europe, and that was where we had the last encounters with Neanderthals.
And what people are doing at that point really does not look that different to Neanderthals. They are pretty much hunting the same animals. There are some isotopic studies which can which can really show you where they are in the trophic level. So which, you know, which predators they resemble in terms of what they're eating. And it looks like Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens, certainly in north west Europe, when it was quite cold around 40000 years ago, were eating a lot of mammoth.
Their diet is basically the same. The there's been a long period where people were proposing maybe we had a more broad diet or we were more specialized in mammoths and things. And it doesn't look like that's necessarily true. I think Neanderthals, you can think of Neanderthals as focused on quality. So wherever they were and we have to remember, they lived in interglacial periods as well when it was as warm as today and even warmer what was around them. They took the best of what was in their environment.
So in the in the southern Europe, in the Mediterranean, we do see them not hunting things like mammoths and stuff because they're not really that much. But you have read their small game, rabbits, birds, tortoises. And so this broad spectrum diet that was once claimed to be something that made us really successful, they are doing it in some places. So the diet and the hunting side is not really not really a difference. But in terms of what seems to become more clear over time after the Neanderthals were gone, we can see what we began to develop into.
And it's certainly true that it seems that we had more extensive and more connected social networks than Neanderthals did. So not all Neanderthals, you know, just lived in one valley and were really inbred. There's definitely evidence that in some regions, populations were extremely small and there was inbreeding, but not in all contexts. For Neanderthals, there's diversity there. However, none of the early Homo sapiens genetic samples we have so far, we don't have that many, but none of them show any kind of signature for, you know, tiny breeding populations or inbreeding.
So there's definitely something different going on in how, um, how the society of early hominids people were structured because they were they were living in tiny numbers as well. It's not like they were loads more of them, but clearly they were more interconnected in order to show a greater genetic diversity. Even if you have a tiny population, you will you have to be in contact. What you have to be meeting more people. So probably that is why we later see sort of ten thousand years old later.
We see the construction of large mammoth huts during this later period of the last ice age. But I think that tendency was there earlier. We just don't see it in the archaeological record, but we can see it genetically. So that's that's definitely there. And we can also see in the way that the early Homo sapiens. Seem to have transported or moved around the Olympics further. There seem to so when you want to assess the scale of of a social network, you can look at the isotopes in your body or Neandertals body, which will record geologically the place where you grew up and you were born, I guess basically sort of laid down in your teeth and bones compared to where those bones are found.
And you compare the difference.
And we can't do that for all samples because we don't have any fossil samples and you're not allowed to just drill through all of them.
So the other thing you can do is look at the scale at which you see stone tools moving across the landscape from the source to where they end up, where you find them. And those distances are lengthier and there are more of the longer distance transfers for early Homo sapiens than for Neanderthals. So Neanderthals did sometimes move. That was a long way, say, over 100 kilometers, up to 300 kilometers. And that's showing that's just a snapshot of a particular territory because we're not going to see it from beginning to end.
It's just a snapshot of where that where those individuals are moving around. But the but we kind of we hype it up basically.
And the same thing this hyping up is what we see with the symbolic evidence to say Neanderthals were, I would call them aesthetically and engaged with material. So that's they're they're making marks, structured marks on bones.
We have evidence for that. They're interested in pigments. They're interested in mixing substances to make different pigment mixes. They're interested in material transformation. So we can see that they they knew how to turn birch bark into birch tar to hoft their tools together. And you have to cook that and sort of it's not easy and it's not it's not incredibly difficult, but it's it's not something that really happens by accident. You have to manage that process. And now we have new evidence that they were combining pine resin with beeswax to make glue for the tools as well.
So that's that's a mixing thing. They're doing it with pigments as well. And they're interested in fossils. There's a fossil shell from a site in Italy called Grotto for Money. And this is a shell that was probably carried 100 kilometers from where it was picked up. And it has red pigment on the outside. And it's only one thing, but this is the only thing like that from the whole record. But it's like it's a little keyhole into what was going on.
But when you look at what Homo sapiens were doing, it's amplified. You know, the amount of pigment use is much more the markings on other materials like bone. They become more structured, more clearly designed graphically. Yes, the diversity of what was happening aesthetically is greater. And it also looks more structured in terms of potential symbolic content. So that's what I would say is the real difference.
So humans are sapiens, we're artists and we hang about in gangs and we travel. Is that what is that what gave us that advantage over of in our final question, where the animals go, were they were they absorbed into us? Were they murdered? Were they starved? What happened to them?
Well, they haven't gone anywhere because they're still still here in genetic terms. There's probably more of them still here than walked the earth, although in bodily form.
But why do we not look like Neanderthals? Basically is the question why? You know, why have they disappeared as a as a as a fossil? You know, why did the fossil disappear? Why did their culture disappear? And I think really, after, you know, more than 100 years of people debating this, there is very little evidence for direct conflict we don't see. Greater levels of aggression or, you know, interpersonal violence in Neanderthal's compared to early homosapiens, they don't look like they were up for a fight anymore than we were.
And I think also the assumption that contact would necessarily be something that has an aggressive default position. I think that's also. Open to debate because of what we see about Neanderthal Neanderthal society more broadly, if you look at the the primate models, for example, chimpanzees are quite aggressive to other groups and they actually patrol the territories. If they see another group and the numbers look in their favor, they'll have a go and they'll try and kill them.
Bonobos are different. They don't do that. They don't do that. They're much more open to interaction. And there's no reason from the archaeology why do we should favor the chimp model? If we look at what Neanderthals are doing, they are groups that are founded around sharing of resources within their own group. And that's that's one of the explanations for the reason why bonobos are not hyper aggressive like chimps, because there's less food competition and they're not fighting over resources.
So much so females, for example, in chimpanzees, in chimpanzee society don't really have, like, strong friendships. It's it's all about competition. And they go away and hide to have their baby because there's infanticide is a huge risk. Bonobos, it's not like that. They have friendships. They they actually, you know, bonobo females will try and assist during birth, will try and support and and it's just so much less aggressive. So I don't see any evidence that suggests that Neanderthals, as more like bonobos, is not a realistic possibility, which means that in situations where different and very different groups are meeting us and then there's not necessarily a reason why it should have been a fight, doesn't mean to say that there wasn't conflict.
I'm sure there was, because we have to remember, we're not talking about one time or one place where this happened. We're talking multiple periods across more than one hundred thousand years. So there's every context would be different. But we should also remember that hybrid babies, in order to survive, they need to be looked after. They need to be able to adapt to whichever cultural group they're raised in and grow up, find a partner and have their own babies.
If that didn't happen, we wouldn't see the DNA signal in us, you know, and. That speaks to at least some level of cultural compatibility, you know, social compatibility, cognitive compatibility, even if it's not identical. And so I think that's another interesting perspective. But in terms of. Why they disappear. We're not looking at a full assimilation, you know, they're not like the Borg. They we didn't we didn't totally assimilate Neanderthals. And because the genetics doesn't doesn't show that it's smaller scale, but it might just come down to slow processes where.
It was already a difficult time, Neanderthals had lived through harsh glacial periods before they had coped with that, they had coped with great instability as well. But it may be that the last dispersal of us coming and sort of pushing at the boundaries of Europe and in their area beginning to shrink coincided with this climatic period that we know was extremely, you know, up and down and up and down. And you could have very different conditions just within a person's lifetime, even on shorter scales.
So if you were a hunter gatherer, you really do not want instability. That's a big problem. So that may have made a setting where people were competing for resources. And if one group, perhaps us, was just a little bit more successful every year and had more babies over a thousand years, that's going to have a big impact.
Climate change, man, volcanoes. So last question very quick. Where was the last where was the last Neanderthal and where do they live and when was it? Nobody knows.
And what we see is that pretty much everywhere they've gone by about 40000 years ago, some of the very the dates that seem more recent than that sort of 28000, 30000, 34000, as we use better techniques, they've been pushed older as as we've sort of honed our dating that has been pushing it back more towards 40000. So I would say just on, you know, geography, it's probably somewhere in Western Europe, but we shouldn't forget that they were in Asia as well.
So the last Neanderthal could have been somewhere off in Siberia and perhaps even further east. We don't know what their eastwards extent was. So, yeah, we should keep our minds open. Neanderthals like to surprise us, say one day we'll find one in Minnesota.
That's fingers crossed. Thank you. That would be a cat among the pigeons. Anyway, thank you very much. What's the book called?
It's called Kindred's, Neandertal Life, Love, Death and Art. Really?
Thank you. That was so cool. Thank you very much.
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