According to a Journal of Archaeological Science paper an apparent sleeping area for Neanderthal has been unearthed in Esquilleu Cave in Cantabria, Spain. It is estimated to be between 53,000 and 39,000 years old. The remains indicate that he slept and worked there on the same grass beds near warming hearths. Evidence from other sites confirm that he prepared stone tools, cooked, ate and slept near hearths. With this level of resourcefulness the question of how he went extinct remains unanswered. Competition with and/or absorption by modern man are plausible explanations.

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This is truly fascinating. Thanks for the link!
Absorption seems like the most logical fate for them, considering what the Neanderthal Genome Project has revealed.
That suggests we are only up to 4% Neanderthal doesn't it? I'm wondering if the Neanderthal population was that small compared to modern man during co-existence. Maybe they fought over hunting grounds as well as interbred.
Evidence pointing out how intelligent Neanderthals were would lead me to believe that absorption is a more plausible explanation... However, it makes sense that if Homo sapiens were competing for the same resources, we'd end up killing them and/or driving them away to less suitable environment that would hamper their survival.
We did absorb at least some of the Neanderthal population. A recent DNA analysis indicated that our ancestry is from 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal.
Competition seems a big factor. Findings are suggesting more and more that the neanderthals were nowhere near as social as we are when it came to spreading ideas from group to group. Where as we will keep contact with different living groups that span thousands of miles and embrace trade with ideas and art, they kept to "themselves" a lot more in that context.

I personally don't think our ancestors saw them as being all that different either, beyond being ugly and strong. We probably thought of them as the big ugly people, but we still considered them people all the same, no different really than a neighboring group of humans.
If they did not share much with other groups of their own kind it surely makes sense that they did not share much with modern humans. I agree that this would have resulted in competition because they, perhaps out of feeling threatened, would have been possessive of hunting and gathering grounds.
I think that there was some degree of possessiveness over resources, but when I speak of competition, I meant to clarify that it was the sort of competition that comes from natural selection. Not that they openly competed, but that their methods just lost in the end when put up against our successes. Just as natural mutation favors one line over another.
I can certainly see this. They did well for hundreds of thousands of years before we came so it is sensible that we dominated the resources that they had depended on. Nonetheless, I don't think they would have given them up without a fight.

My understanding is that they didn't have any weapons that could be thrown, slung nor flung. Only spears for thrusting. Although they had physical advantages over us we probably had weapon superiority that would have done them in during any fight for the resources.

If they were driven away from the resources they could have died out naturally.
Humans as well as all mammals are territorial. Hell, blacks and whites only buried the hatchet a few decades ago and we're still working on it. I would not be surprised if they weren't killed off unless they truly could not tell the difference.
I don't buy that it was a mass territorial dispute. I would concede that of course it happened in isolated situations, but it probably wasn't the average behavior when our groups met. Again, it's not like we are all that different. They looked like ugly Caucasians I would posit, not monsters to modern man. There were probably many incidents of coexistence, and many incidents of dispute, as with all social interaction between groups. I don't think it's the default behavior though, and I don't think we would have seen them as anything more than ugly people. And looking at the neanderthal dna in our genetics, perhaps not as ugly as we would think? Hehe.

Really though, this whole subject fascinates me to no end. it's the closest thing to a Tolkienesque world of fantasy in actual history, with different kinds of people living in the same age.
There is also evidence that the large piles of vegatation created heat from composting which provided warm sleeping platforms for early humans - stinky but warm.




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