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[Xmca-l] Re: Every era seems to find the Neanderthal it needs.



Thanks Annalisa - I enjoyed reading this with my breakfast!

Except this sentence:
'Higher population density leads to ….. the ability to... express abstract thought.’   ?

I think I know what she was probably meaning (did she mean that people living in complex dense social systems are more likely to develop systems for writing or coding ways of thinking and seeing the world, and that these get passed on intergenerationally?), but where’s the evidence that this has to do with the expression of abstract thought? I could get cranky at a silly example and leave it at that, but I think this is an excellent example of the dangers to crossing too many disciplinary boundaries (archaeology and genetics to semiotics and cognitive theory) without doing the necessary reality checks along the way. We have some nice reporting on what we can infer from genetic information, assuming the inferences are correct. But then we use evidence of population density to leap into unsubstantiated statements about relationships between social structure and thinking. I wonder if this isn’t pretty well right back to what people were doing in the nineteenth century.

Anyway, thanks again for an interesting piece,
Helen

> On 18 Feb 2015, at 4:01 am, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:
> 
> This article seems connected to a few recent thematic pathways:
> 
> http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/02/13/our-lost-cousins-neanderthals/O2cSNRBhPjcJYl76EoDAxK/story.html
> 
> 
> Most poignant for me was the theory that Neanderthals died out because of their thin population structure.
> 
> 
> Also there is evidence that many Europeans and Asians are 4% Neanderthal in their DNA material.
> 
> 
> Then the relationship we have with dogs may have really changed the game of competition.
> 
> 
> Wouldn't it be strange if in the distant future there were another species that we interbred with and then we became extinct to only exist in DNA material of that newer humanoid species?
> 
> 
> Kind regards,
> 
> 
> Annalisa