There has been a long debate over what exactly caused Neanderthals to become extinct around 40,000 years ago. Last November, I wrote an article on how a study revealed that Homo sapiens had nothing to do with the demise of Neanderthals and that their extinction was caused by inbreeding and small populations. (The article can be read here.)
Now a new article has detailed how Neanderthals and Homo sapiens were involved in a guerrilla-style battle that lasted approximately 100,000 years. In an article for The Conversation, Dr. Nicholas R. Longrich, who is a senior lecturer in evolutionary biology and palaeontology at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, went into further details about this new revelation.
He explained how humanity split into two groups back about 600,000 years ago. Homo sapiens lived in Africa (and eventually evolved into today’s humans) while Neanderthals inhabited Asia and Europe. Neanderthals were believed to have been skilled fighters in addition to being able to use spears to kill their prey such as ibex, elk, deer, bison, rhinos, and mammoths. On the other hand, so were Homo sapiens as they used powerful clubs as weapons.
The sister species were believed to have engaged in a long battle. Proof lies within ancient Neanderthal bones where their arms were broken (possibly from protecting themselves against a violent attack). While the broken arm bones could have been sustained from hunting incidents, it appeared as though they were involved in a type of violent guerrilla-style conflict.
With growth in populations, they would obviously need more land to live, hunt food, etc… So it makes sense that the two sister species engaged in some sort of battle. And since Neanderthals were very skilled fighters as well as being incredibly strong and muscular, they would have been a force to be reckoned with in regards to combat.
Homo sapiens eventually won the battle – perhaps because of longer ranged weapons such as bows or throwing clubs and spears, or maybe it was because they were able to hunt more food to feed their growing army. Whatever the reason was for their victory, Neanderthals did eventually become extinct while Homo sapiens thrived.
Dr. Longrich’s entire article can be read in full here.