Some interesting converging research trends …
First, the more research that is done into the Neanderthals and their level of technology and society, the clearer it becomes that they were the bright, quiet, creative, and more advanced species compared to Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals had art and comparatively advanced artifacts long before we humans. They were out-competed by vanilla humanity when we turned up on the scene – we didn’t directly wipe them out.
Neanderthal’s lived in small family groupings, whereas the more social-minded Homo sapiens would travel mob-handed in aggressive tribes of up to 250-strong. Not only that, early humanity turned their social skills to domesticating wolves and used their critters’ superior tracking abilities to become hyper-successful hunters.
Neanderthal’s primarily lived in Northeastern Europe, which is why many European descended people now have 1-4% of the genomes contributed by Neanderthals – while it is zero to low in the rest of the world.
There’s a second trend in research that now suggests that autism might be an expression of the interplay of our Neanderthal genes – basically a byproduct of integrating two operating systems in the same mind.
It is interesting to speculate that some characteristics of us folks on the autistic spectrum – which may include but are not limited to shyness, less sociability, inability to read social cues, aversion to large groups, gentle less-competitive natures, enhanced creativity, inventiveness – seen in the extreme with individuals like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Bill Gates – are the same characteristics which scientists now believe that the previously much-maligned Neanderthal peoples possessed.
I wonder what a parallel reality looks like where people were 96 per cent Neanderthal and four per cent Homo Sapien. Where Apple Macs won, and PCs lost the race to mass market dominance?
Would it be a kinder, solarpunk world of peace and high-technology, with comparatively little warfare, crime, and high social equality – not to mention mostly dog-free? Maybe Neanderthals would have been cat-people, instead – given felines would have turned up around the grain silos, regardless of genomic vectors?
Fascinating to speculate. And if Bill Gates’ plans to get to net zero through safe fourth-generation nuclear energy end up saving Earth from turning into Hothouse Venus, it might be thanks to the Neanderthal slice of our soul that Homo Sapiens were saved from the worst excesses of their own nature.