Quiz 10: Pre-Modern Humans


The hominins of the Middle Pleistocene, also known as the premodern humans of that time, they succeeded H.erectus. The earliest premodern humans possess many features of H.erectus , like the brows are projected, the face is large, the forehead is low, and in certain circumstances the cranial vault is thick. Even some of their other characteristics reveal that they exhibit some acquired traits more nearly approximating the modern condition in comparison to their H.erectus predecessors. In comparison to H.erectus, these premodern humans exhibited an enhanced brain size, a more vertical nose, a more rounded brain case, and a less angled back of the skull. The Middle Pleistocene was a phase of change in human evolution. The fossil hominins discovered from this period shows similarities both with their successors ( H.sapiens ), and with their predecessors ( H.erectus ). They have also been discovered from many regions of the old world, that is, in Asia, Africa, and Europe. As these transitional hominins are more advanced and more derived in the direction of human in comparison to H.erectus , they can be referred to as premodern humans. They possess many behavioral and significant anatomical features with modern humans, due to which they can be considered as humans to some extent.

The general popular concept of the Neanderthals is that they were lumbering cousins of ancient, modern man, and were less intelligent, who died as they were not smart or well-equipped as their cousins. However, archaeological and research evidence has proved that the Neanderthals lived and survived in harsh, changing environment. They reproduced and survived for nearly 250000 years, in spite the problems, which they faced. Their brain size was also similar to that of anatomically modern man, which means that they were neither ill-equipped nor stupid in the world they survived in. The Neanderthal's anatomy is almost same to that of modern humans, like the hyoid bone that supports the vocal tract and cannot be differentiated from that of its counterpart that is modern human. Finally, there is a conception that Neanderthals do not possess any cultural habits. However, Neanderthals used to follow ailing practices and cared for their injured, they used to bury their dead in symbolic and elaborate ceremonies with tools, flowers, and other preparations for the afterlife. Many used to cook, created tools for hunting purposes, used to celebrate and clothe themselves. They used to take part in religious ceremonies, and played musical instruments, like the flute created from the bone, which was discovered from a cave in Slovenia. They have anatomically and archaeologically proved themselves similar to modern man many times, if not better in certain aspects.

New research indicates that Neanderthals also may have buried their dead intentionally. The first possible finding of a Neanderthal tomb took place in 1908 in southwestern France at La Chapelle-aux-Saints. In this the 50000 year old bones were well preserved, which led the researchers to indicate that Neanderthals buried their dead, even before the arrival of modern humans. In the past decade, many findings indicated that Neanderthals were accomplished of composite mental behavior enough to contemplate in creating the dead tombs for them. Some archaeologists argued that the Neanderthal sites containing burials, is a practice, which is regarded to be an important characteristic of behavior of modern human. However, recently researchers discovered a compelling proof that Neanderthals used to follow other modern methods, like creating sophisticated tools and decorating their bodies. It was done even before the modern humans invaded their place, indicating that Neanderthals created cultural traditions on their own, rather than learning that from the modern humans ( Homo sapiens ). The concept that Neanderthals buried their dead showed that they had the tendency to develop rich cultures, and were capable of symbolic thought, like it was discovered that they wore jewelry made of colored shells and feathers, and they used to decorate themselves using pigments. It also indicates that like modern human they also used to care for the elderly and sick.