MATH “EXTINGUISHED” NEANDERTHALS, Sort Of.

HOW & WHY (SOME) NEANDERTHAL TRAITS WERE OUTBRED:

Many racist theories about the “disappearance” of Neanderthals. The latest one, from Oxford University, claims that Neanderthals’ big, beautiful eyes, and their big muscles caused their demise: Neanderthals were too busy looking at things, while flexing their muscles. The “idea” is that larger eyes would have crowded the Neanderthal brain out, making them relatively stupid. In particular eyes made them incapable of having social groups as large as those of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

Big Eyes Do Not Kill

Big Eyes Do Not Kill

Sapiens girl on the left, Neanderthal girl on the right (reconstitution published in Science Magazine a few years ago).

I have long argued that the strength of democracy came from having many brains working in parallel. There is little doubt that larger social groups bring a higher cultural intelligence, hence higher individual intelligence. So I agree about that bit of logic. Yet, ironically, to reach the conclusion that Neanderthals’ social group were less numerous, the simple fact that Neanderthals were bigger, is enough. There is no need for hazardous demeaning allegations about Neanderthals’ brains.

That big eyes made Neanderthals stupid contradicts some facts that were thought to be established:

1) Sapiens Neanderthalis’ brains were significantly larger to start with. See Wikipedia.

2) Many very clever Homo Sapiens Sapiens have small brains. Famously Anatole France, an intellectual, had only a 1,000 cubic centimeters brain. Homo Floresiensis, the “hobbit” species living on the island of Flores, Indonesia, until it was wiped out recently, was extremely intellectually capable, although it had really small (and completely different) brains.

3) In the Middle East, Neanderthals and Sapiens went back and forth through the same large caves over 50,000 years. So whatever happened, it was not in evidence for 50,000 years.

So, of course, I have my own theory. That’s what philosophy is all about: trying to guess what really matters most, and how that most significant data logically articulate. Then scientists, politicians and writers can swoop, figure out the details, and attribute themselves the glory.

What could have happened by around 28,000 years ago that caused the demise of Neanderthals? At the time, the last fierce glaciation was gaining ground. (It reached its maximum 25,000 years ago.) Some have argued, absurdly, that the Neanderthals could not take it. That’s beyond silly, as Neanderthals had evolved, from half a million years ago, precisely to handle extreme cold.

Neanderthals were stocky, powerful, and they had thrived through hundreds thousands years of glaciation, mostly on a meat diet, hunting big game. But they also knew how to cook plants, and eat them.

27,800 years ago, Cave Bears were exterminated. That huge animal who lived in caves, primed real estate Sapiens Sapiens and Neanderthals craved for. Could the disappearance of Cave Bears be logically linked to the disappearance of Neanderthals? Yes. That’s a consequence of my theory. More advanced technology played a direct role. So did size: Cave Bears disappeared, because they were larger than European Brown Bears (called Grizzlies in America), according to the mechanism below, differential exponentiation.

How did men kill Cave Bears? With technology. We do not know exactly what weapons men had at their disposal. However, technology had improved, and kept improving. Recently it was found that Sapiens Sapiens (Homo SS; I hope one gets the joke) in Africa had invented bows and arrows 80,000 Before Present (BP).  (About 60,000 years earlier than previously thought!) Before bows and arrows, the propeller had been invented, and was used in Europe. The propeller took advantage of angular momentum to send a sort of mini lance further and stronger than by hand.

Why did the Neanderthals and Denisovans (another human species from Central Eurasia) lose their edge? Advancing technology is the obvious answer. When technology of clothing and weapons was sufficiently advanced, the physiological advantage that the Neanderthals genetically had, disappeared. Homo Sapiens Sapiens could thrive just as well through winter.

At that point, Homo Sapiens Sapiens from Africa could be as successful as the Neanderthals through the freezing wastelands of Europe. OK.

But the Homo SS outbred the Neanderthals, so they became genetically more successful. How do I explain that?

Simple. However, the explanation involves the exponential function, the same function found all over, and that the mathematician Rudin called “the most important function in mathematics”. The exponential also explains the plutocratic phenomenon, and that is why it’s so dangerous. The exponential always rules extinction events, that’s why one day a species is all over, like the American Pigeon, or the Tasmanian Tiger, and the next day, it’s gone.

So visualize this. Neanderthals were bigger than Homo SS, just like the Polar Bear is bigger than the Black Bear. Bigness is an adaptation to cold. Southern Europe’s Brown Bears are smaller than those found in Kamchatka, or Alaska (also known as Grizzlies: the Grizzly is an emigrated European Brown Bear!) Bigger makes warmer inside. That’s why the most massive animal that ever was, the Blue Rorqual, at up to 180 tons, is nearly twice the mass of the largest dinosaur (it’s not just that it’s floating, but also that water is cooler than Jurassic air, I hold).

To simplify, let’s use a bit of exaggeration (that’s reasoning by exaggeration, one of my preferred tactic of thought; the one humor exploits, and why joking helps thinking). Let’s assume Neanderthals were twice more massive than Homo SS (certainly, in the average, Cave Bears were twice the mass of Brown Bears).

Now let’s consider an habitat where Homo SS and Neanderthal bands roamed. They will tend not to mix, for obvious racist reasons. The racial hatred between Neanderthals and Homo SS has got to have been colossal. People who look too different are not even sexually attracted to each other (and where Neanderthals and Homo SS were in contact in the Middle East, for 50,000 years, there is no evolution of an interbred species, an indirect proof that there was no love lost there!)

The density of human mass is going to be roughly the same all over, because that density depends only upon the resources available (mostly meat on the hoof, and fur in burrows in glaciating conditions).

Thus, there would have been apartheid. But the Homo SS would have been twice more numerous, where they reigned (from my assumption of twice the mass). So now graft on this a catastrophe; a drought, a flood, a very tough winter, a volcanic super disaster, whatever. The climate was highly variable, starting about 40,000 years ago, just when Homo SS appeared. Some have stupidly argued that Neanderthals were too stupid to adapt to this changing circumstances. Like this paralyzing stupidity struck them just when Homo SS were around. My explanation is more subtle.

After a catastrophe in said habitat, say one of these numerous habitat in Europe isolated by glacial mountain ranges, or seas and lakes, most of the human population would be wiped out, Homo SS, just as Neanderthals. There would tend to be always a small remaining population, because the greatest limit on man is man himself: as a population gets wiped out, resources rebound, and life of the survivors tend to get much easier (that’s what happened in Europe after the Black Death of 1348 CE; if nothing else, survivors could ask for higher salaries from their plutocratic masters, and they did).

So say 90% of the population of the habitat was wiped out. As suddenly resources are no limited, the human population will rebound exponentially. The equation is: N(t) = N(0) exp(Rt). “R” is the “Malthusian” parameter, the rate of growth. Now it’s going to require twice the resources to feed a Neanderthal to sexual maturation (under our outrageously simplifying assumption that Neanderthals are twice the mass). Thus one may assume that R(Homo SS)/R(Neanderthal) is 2. The end result is that the quotient:

Number Homo SS/ Number Neanderthal = A exp(2t). (Where A is the ratio of the populations H SS/Neanderthal after the catastrophe.)

Thus the population of H SS would exponentially grow relative to that of the Neanderthals, resulting in a quick extinction. And in no way this is happening because Homo SS were superior. Just because they were more gracile.

Hence the mystery of the evolution of contemporary man is smoothly explained. Just a bit of math. QED.

Europeans & Asians: Not Just African

Europeans & Asians: Not Just African

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Note 1: what of the mentally deliquescent and racist article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society? First, they sank so low as to using orbit size as a proxy, that Neanderthals had larger visual systems than contemporary AMH [Anatomically Modern Humans]. That’s about as intelligent as saying that, because special forces use night vision goggles, they have got to have bigger visual systems.

The main woman author also found the same physiological feature, bigger eyes, in the past, about people presently living at high latitude. She contentedly asserted that, because light levels are lower in the north, people living in the north (40,000 years at least for Homo SS) have bigger eyes. Amusingly, she did not draw, in that case the conclusion that Norwegians and the English are therefore more stupid. Somehow, though, in her lack of smarts, she applies that controversial reasoning to Neanderthals. Does she have giant eyes?

Seriously the Oxford study rests on a central fact that contradicts one of established facts about Neanderthals. Indeed it claims Neanderthals’ brains were not any larger than Homo SS.

***

Note 2; what catastrophes am I talking about? Well the climate fluctuated wildly, to start with. Second, A Campanian ignimbrite volcanic super-eruption around 40,000 years ago, followed by a second one a few thousand years later, certainly crashed Neanderthal populations (based on logic, and evidence from Mezmaiskaya cave in the Caucasus. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of a specimen there is C14 dated 29,000 years BP, one of the latest living pure Neanderthals). After such a catastrophe, the exponential rebounds of populations would have advantaged Homo SS, as explained above.

***

Note 3: OK, I exaggerated with the mass ratio. (Mathematicians often do this, considering an exaggerated case to understand the mean, through the tails.) But the real mass ratio would be aggravated because, Neanderthal was built in such a way, relative to gracile Homo SS, that they consumed more calories per day (some paleontologists have come up with 300). So there is no doubt that the effect above will play a role, even if the mass ratios were not as bad. Notice the mechanism above would tend to extinguish the Neanderthal traits that were most characteristic of the subspecies.

***

Note 4: A preferred trick of Neanderthals’ haters is to exhibit Archaic Neanderthals‘skulls, and compare them to those of modern men. The skull of an Archaic Neanderthal of 400,000 years ago should not be compared to a modern human, less than 40,000 year old! All the more since Neanderthals’ brain size augmented faster than the brain size of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

***

Note 5: Part of the mechanism above generalizes for other species in competition. It provides with a disappearance mechanism after ecological turbulence, according to species’ ecological footprint. The reasoning can be generalized to other species’ extinctions. Let’s recapitulate the preceding, while generalizing it:

1) it is hard to transform a near extinction event into total eradication (see the Black Plague of 1348 CE). Indeed, the more the extinction, the easier it gets for the survivors, as resources rebound (this is similar to the famous lynx-rabbit oscillation).

2) However, larger animals (Neanderthals, dinosaurs), or animals with a higher metabolic load (Neanderthals) are going to be to be left behind exponentially, during the rebound phase.

In the case of Neanderthals the periodic catastrophes could have been of climatic origins (waves of cooling, warming and unstable climate as the earth underwent various tipping points, one way or another, into the occasionally severely glaciated period between 60 K and 11 K BP. A severe volcanic catastrophe or two would have added near extinctions episodes.

In the case of dinosaurs, the massive Deccan eruptions, over millions of years, culminated with the most acute episode, more or less contemporaneously with a massive asteroid impact (!). According to the exponential extinction theory, the back and forth of near extinctions would have put a severe extinction pressure on the dinosaurs and the like, as smaller, more efficiently active mammals and birds would have put huge pressure on dinosaurs and flying reptiles (same in the sea). By eating their eggs to start with, as mammal and bird population would have exploded very fast back up at any relief. (This would have happened in addition to other extinction pressures, such as cooling.)

See: http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

Note 6: A first reading of the ideas above may lead one to wonder why it is that small species do not overwhelm big ones, when they are in competition. But, in normal circumstances, one has an equilibrium ecology, the equivalent of equilibrium thermodynamics. the effect above does not apply. The effect above, exponential extinction, occurs only during non equlibrium ecological dynamics (hence the importance of near-extinctions). It’s the equivalent of non equilibrium thermodynamics (when Prigogine suggested the latter, he was viewed as nuts; until he got the Nobel Prize).

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51 Responses to “MATH “EXTINGUISHED” NEANDERTHALS, Sort Of.”

  1. pshakkottai Says:

    A neat explanation! Again the exponential function.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Partha: The exponential is the most natural non trivial function, so it’s everywhere… E is literally, transcendental… So metaphorically, when we want a transcendental explanation, the easiest way to do so is to use the exponential…
      PA

  2. Alexi Helligar Says:

    Enjoyed this one.

  3. Alexi Helligar Says:

    It is informative and persuasive. Thank you for fixing the typos. There were a few.
    However, how do you account for Neanderthalensis genes in the Sapiens genome?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Alexi: Good question. There is no contradiction between my reasoning and hybridization. They complement each other well. Actually the reasoning by exponentiation explains why the hybridization would have tended to be small, and getting smaller, or then highly selective (only NON power “genes” selected). Because there was some mixing (although some have contested this, I view it as unlikely, man being man, even if from different subspecies).

      When I said they hated each other, obviously there would have been some exceptions. However, even a hybrid population would be affected by the effect I put forward: hybrids would tend to be heavier, slower, and tech cut the advantage robustness brought. BTW, we know that, among the Kung! in South Africa, the best hunters tended to be the smallest, as they could come closer to big game without detection. When one has poisoned arrows, as Kung! did, the lethality of the hunter is not proportional to his size. Those poison were so effective that just a scratch would kill a human. although a giraffe could take 6 days to go down.

      P/S: Typos are hard to avoid. It’s a different mind set creating the idea, and following the flow of discourse later. So I find them on re-reading, when I have time, later. Sometimes there have been even computer glitches that I did not expect. Readers are welcome to tell me about typos, or obscure, degenerated sentences or sections…
      PA

  4. Phil G. Says:

    I’ve always suspected that the Amazons of European fable are in fact a social memory of the Neanderthals. If so, the fable confirms the size differential between the two sub-species of mankind.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Welcome to the comments, Phil! The existence of the Amazons has been confirmed recently through archeological and genetic analyses. They established a vast empire in the Southern Steppe between Hungary and Mongolia. Their descendants still live there, and are easy to spot from their tendency to blonde hair. they thrived about 3,000 BP.
      PA

  5. old geezer pilot Says:

    Perhaps the Neanderthals lacked CURIOSITY.

    Seriously.

    There are no Neanderthal fossils in Morocco, land which is visible from the top of Gibraltar. It is not that far away now, and was even closer 20,000 years ago when sea levels were 200 feet lower.

    I am sure Neanderthals had water craft.

    So why did they not settle North Africa?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Old Geezer: The depth of the straits of Gilbratar is between 300 meters deep, and 900 meters deep. So even when sea level was 120 meters down, 20,000 BP, one could travel by sea between the Atlantic and the Med. Currents would have been even fiercer.

      It is completely obvious to me that Neanderthals were at least as clever as Homo SS. And probably more (because they had conquered much tougher conditions). I tried to drag in the appropriate mud what is for me the obvious racism, or specieism, of that stupid article. Bernard M, a major prof at a major USA university (one of these plutocratic universities I try to drag in the mud everyday!), just to exert my mental muscles, agrees with my bold opinion, see his comment. Of course I am not going to say which U. it is, as I do not want to aggravate my sponsors too much, but just enough to keep them awake…

      My idea provides an extinction of the most striking Neanderthals traits, precisely from the inferiority of Homo SS. And it generalizes to all and any species in an extinction situation, as I said.

      How far Neanderthal tech extended is not clear, from dation problems. Did they invent the flute or not? And so on. There was a tech explosion around, or shortly before the disappearance of Neanderthals. My mechanism explains why, even if NEAnDERTHALS HAD ORIGINATED that tech explosion, it would lead to the disappearance of their most striking characteristics.

      Lots of things are said, or even shown, about Neanderthals, none of them true. See the extract of a paleontological site in a separate comment.
      PA

  6. Bernard M Says:

    I do not trust too much wikipedia anyway

    However I would like to indicate that use of a sensory modality does affect the corresponing cortical size, but having big hands does not mean having a bigger cortical size. So having big eyes does not mean necessarily having a greater visual cortex. and even having a larger visual cortex does not mean that this is taking away from the reasoning part of the brain. I agree with you the theory of some scientist is quite stupid.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      hi Bernard!

      Since wikipedia is often the height of conventionalism (so often wrong, because so is Conventional Wisdom), I quoted them ironically as a sort of private joke… Anyway, I will return to make a scientific brain size quote, the one behind the Wikipedia statement, good idea! It used to be that, on the first 200 Neandethal skulls, or so, the average size was about 200 cc larger than Homo SS, a significant difference in my opinion.

      Now the crux of the Oxford proc. Royal Soc. paper, 2013, I violently attacked, is that there is NO brain size difference.

      Very good analogy, the fact of having big hands! Clearly, supposing that HSN had bigger orbs, that was to have more, or bigger, light receptors. But that does not mean that the nerve entering the Visual Cortex is bigger. Now they claimed in the paper that someone found the VC of Neanderthals bigger….

      I think the differential exponential theory I exposed is something obvious. Weirdly, it was never rolled out before, in spite of its simplicite’ percutante! It would also explains why animals submitted to successive episodes of near extinction compression tend to get smaller… (Think Atlantic Cod.)
      PA

  7. Patrice Ayme (@Tyranosopher) Says:

    From the site: http://www.paleodirect.com/m142.htm

    RARE NEANDERTHAL MOUSTERIAN QUARTZITE PICK HANDAXE FROM THE NORTH SAHARA

    Exposed Site – Algerian Sahara Desert, North Africa

    MIDDLE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD (MOUSTERIAN): 80,000 – 40,000 years ago

    This handaxe was fashioned out of quartzite and used by Neanderthals over 40,000 years ago. It was collected from an exposed Mousterian site in the Algerian Sahara Desert of North Africa. The tool tradition of the Neanderthals is called the Mousterian Tradition. The Mousterian is found in one of the longest and most spectacular sequences in the whole of North Africa. Several open and cave sites are documented. Oddly, the North African Mousterian technology appears as fully developed unlike the gradual formative stages found in Europe. Evidence suggests that North Africa was populated by Neanderthals moving down from southern Europe in pursuit of hunting migrating populations of certain Euro-Asiatic animals of the period, as they entered northern Africa.

    This is a Mousterian pick handaxe. The form and execution of this extraordinary handaxe must be held to be understood. It fits perfectly in right hand and its rounded proximal end fits perfectly in the palm of the hand with pockets flaked to hold the thumb and forefinger for a sure grip. Unlike their much larger predecessors of the Sahara during the Acheulian, Mousterian handaxes are much smaller in comparison. This rare specimen displays all edges and sharp tip without modern damage. This axe possesses natural desert wind erosion along with bi-color patina – traits of an authentic Paleolithic Saharan artifact caused by long-term exposure on one side as it lay undisturbed, exposed for millennia. In “as found” ORIGINAL condition with NO REPAIR AND NO RESTORATION.

    The MOUSTERIAN tool tradition gets its name from artifacts discovered at a primitive rock shelter named Le Moustier located in southwestern France. Compared to the bulkier tools of the Acheulian produced by the Levallois technique, Mousterian tools are comprised of smaller flakes from an exhaustively worked core which are then retouched on the edges to make a large variety of tools. These tools are not only smaller than Acheulian specimens, but they are more specialized for their various tasks. Mousterian tools can be broadly put into four classes: 1) SAWS (Denticulate Tools) and KNIVES, 2) SCRAPERS 3) BORERS 4) HANDAXES, CHOPPERS and CLEAVERS.

    Mousterian tool-makers were the primitive humans knows as the NEANDERTHALS. Neanderthals had massive skeletons and teeth, flat foreheads and heavy brow ridges. Their skulls were larger than a modern man and contained an average brain capacity of 1500 cc, averaging slightly larger than humans of today.

    See also: http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2012/10/let-me-enter-following-points-which.html

  8. Gena Dix Says:

    Equality for all, agreed. What’s wrong with the we are all Africans argument? We can just say Neanderthals are your sisters…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Gena! Truth is, we do not know too well what the genome of our ancestors was, 30,000 years ago. Because of this, we sure are not sisters of ancestors living 30,000 years ago, be they H SS or H SN. One thing is sure, our ancestral genome evolved. My argument in the essay shows that it would have evolved through de-Neanderthalization of the grossest characteristics (even in hybrid population).

      What’s wrong with the we-are-all-African argument is that Darwin suggested it without deep evidence, but now we know, or ought to know, that there deep evidence against it. Homo of some kind were continuously found in Eurasia for at least 2 million years (see Homo Ergaster in Georgia, 2 million BP). I am after the truth, more than I am after what makes others feel good, especially when it is lack of smarts that makes them feel good (to suppose men would have been bottled in Africa is rather stupid).
      PA

  9. Gena Dix Says:

    Yes, go for the truth then …
    But what of Leaky and his lot…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Patrice Ayme Yes, I go for the truth, Gena, thanks for the encouragement!. I went for it so well, I found a neat mechanism that generalizes to other species than Nenaderthal. It even explains why the size of cod has shrunk.

      Now the problem in paleontology of Neanderthals is to explain to us why MORE than my mechanism, EXPONENTIAL EXTINCTION (of massive traits), is needed to elucidate the Neanderthals’s so called “extinction”.

      What’s the problem with Leaky? Leaks? ;-)! About 49 years ago, about, the Leakey family discovered Homo Habilis in Oldovai, Tanzania. At the time, because of the reign of the out-of-Africa theory, H habilis was viewed as ancestral to H SS. It’s much less sure now, as new species were discovered in and out of Africa. Including the coexistence H Habilis-H Erectus, hinting that the latter did not descend from the former. The presence of advanced hominids in Eurasia, 2 million years ago, (Homo Ergaster) ought to have changed the mood.

      If Africa had been annihilated any time after two million years ago, the genus Homo would have kept on going… Probably as if nothing had happened.
      PA

  10. J Rich Says:

    Ne pas oublier que environ 8 à 10% du génome de l’européen est semblable au génome de Néanderthal qui a pu être analyser!

    N’ y aurait-il pas eu des “croisements”, en Palestine notamment entre les nouveaux envahisseurs tout juste sortis d’Afrique avec des hommes plus anciens? Selon l’article de Svante Pääbo en 2010, directeur du laboratoire de génétique évolutive de l’Institut Max-Planck à Leipzig (Allemagne), un taux de ressemblance de 1 à 4%.
    JR

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Bonjour Jacques!

      Les toutes dernieres analyses (2012) suggerent qu’il y encore plus de traces d’alleleles Neanderthal en… Afrique du Nord. Les Neanderthals, paradoxalement sont restes plus longtemps en Europe du Sud… Comme je disais, Neanderthals et Sapiens ont alternes pendant 50,000 ans dans les memes cavernes du Moyen Orient. Ils devaient pas s’aimer enormement, vu qu’on ne voie pas d’especes hybride en Orient. Mais, disent des scientifiques, on en voit beaucoup en Espagne.
      PA

  11. J Rich Says:

    ET VOILA LA COPIE DES ETUDES DU MAX PLANCK EN 2009

    Un taux de ressemblance de 1 à 4%.

    Une fois obtenue cette séquence d’ADN fossile, l’équipe de Pääbo s’attache alors à la comparer à une séquence d’homme actuel… Ou plutôt, aux séquences de cinq Homo sapiens issus de régions différentes : un San d’Afrique du Sud, un Yoruba d’Afrique de l’Ouest, un Papou de Nouvelle-Guinée, un Han chinois… et un Français d’Europe de l’Ouest.

    La grotte de Vindija, en Croatie, où ont été découverts les fossiles ayant fourni le matériel génétique à l’origine du séquençage du génome de Neandertal.

    Le résultat de l’analyse, qui apparaît sur les écrans de l’Institut Max-Planck tout au long de l’année 2009, laisse les chercheurs pantois : entre 1 et 4% des fragments de l’ADN de Neandertal se retrouvent à l’identique chez le Papou, le Chinois et le Français, mais pas chez les deux Africains.

    La conclusion est double : Neandertal a bien contribué au patrimoine génétique de l’espèce humaine actuelle, contrairement à ce qui était admis jusqu’à présent. Le scénario de cette rencontre est également dévoilé par les gènes : le métissage a dû se dérouler après la sortie d’Afrique des premiers Homo sapiens puisque les deux Africains contemporains, descendants de Sapiens n’ayant pas migré, ne portent pas de fragments néandertaliens dans leurs gènes. Un métissage qui se serait déroulé entre 50 000 et 100 000 ans au Proche-Orient, passage obligé des premiers hommes modernes lors de leur sortie d’Afrique. Les fouilles réalisées dans cette région ont en effet montré que Néandertaliens et Sapiens y ont cohabité durant cette période, au point peut-être d’y avoir échangé des partenaires

  12. Luigi G Says:

    Ci sono parecchie cose che avrei voluto fare anch’io nella vita, ne ho realizzate solo una parte, forse la piu’ inportante. Ad es. l’inglese, infatti non ho capito il tuo art. EXTINCTION N. E.
    Luigi G

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Saluto Luigi!
      Parceque tu comprends le francais voici le resume’ dans la langue de Moliere:

      Ma these sur les Neanderthals est tres simple:
      1) les quasi-extinctions sont plus frequentes que les extinctions totales (a cause de l’equation de proie/predateur). Cependant, les quasi-extinctions, surtout quand elle se repetent, peuvent mener a la disparition de certaines especes au profit d’autres. En effet:

      2) la recuperation apres un evenement de quasi extinction est exponentielle (pour un certain temps). en consequence de quoi;

      3) en cas de competition inter-specifiques (Neanderthals contre Homo SS, mamiferes et oiseaux contre dinosaures et pterosaures), l’espece, ou les especes, a moindre charge metabolique va/vont inonder exponentiellement celles a plus haute charge metabolique. Donc:

      4) les especes a plus hautes charges metaboliques vont etre genetiquement noyees (Neanderthals), specialement dans leurs caracteres metaboliquement lourds, ou reproduction plus lente (comme on observe). Ou alors, et, ou, en plus, il y aura trop de mamiferes par rapport aux dinosaures, soudainement, et les premiers mangeront tous les oeufs des derniers…. Exit dinosaures, pterosaures, plesiosaures.

      Clairement les pterosaures, les “reptiles” volants, etaient tres superieurs aux oiseaux, question vol. Mais un animal pesant 200 kilogrammes avec 15 metres d’envergure (!) se reproduisait moins vite qu’une mechante proto-mouette d’ un kilogramme mangeuse d’oeufs, et affamee…
      PA

    • J Rich Says:

      Sono veritamente le migliori? No penso qui!
      Uno Franceso

  13. A mathematical approach to the demise of the Neanderthals. | Learning from Dogs Says:

    [...] days ago Patrice published a post proposing how the Neanderthals were outbred, under the title of Math Extinguished Neanderthals.  It fascinated me and Patrice was gracious in allowing me permission to republish it on Learning [...]

  14. Martin Lack Says:

    Hi Patrice… As it happens, another anonymous blogger called “Duncan” posted a comment on my blog yesterday, to which I have completely coincidentally just responded as follows:

    You are quite right to allude to Jevons’ Paradox, as indeed I have done in the past: Increased efficiency in the manufacturing process of any product will always be exceeded by a consequential increase in demand for the product; leading to accelerating rates of resource consumption. Thus, all Jevons did was translate into an industrial context the assertion of one Rev. Thomas Malthus regarding population – that the ability of humans to produce food would be exceeded by the number of people needing to be fed. In both cases, technological optimists continue to insist that both men were merely pessimists or lacking in imagination. I think we shall soon find out who is wrong.
    With the benefit of the Historians’ Fallacy (also known as hindsight), the insight of your post – that a larger body needs more food resulting in a lower ecological carrying capacity for that species – seems obvious. However, it is no more obvious than many of the other facts of our current predicament that so many refuse to admit… Sadly, civil disorder now seems inevitable because:
    – We now inhabit a World where economic growth is near impossible due to a global debt crisis; and
    – Anthropogenic climate disruption (a.k.a. ‘global weirding’) is now leading to higher food prices.

    Perhaps the crisis in Cyprus will be a wake-up call to the EU. I hope so because I do not want to imagine what would happen if the banks refused to open in Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, or Ireland…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Martin. What I am also saying is that:

      1) it is hard to transform a near extinction event into total eradication (see the Black Plague of 1348 CE). Indeed, the more the extinction, the easier it gets for the survivors, as resources rebound (this is similar to the famous lynx-rabbit oscillation).

      2) However, larger animals (Neanderthals, dinosaurs), or animals with a higher metabolic load (Neanderthals) are going to be to be left behind exponentially, during the rebound phase.

      In the case of Neanderthals the periodic catastrophes could have been of climatic origins (waves of cooling, warming and unstable climate as the earth underwent various tipping points, one way or another, into the occasionally severely glaciated period between 60 K and 11 K BP. A severe volcanic catastrophe or two would have added near extinctions episodes.

      In the case of dinosaurs, the massive Deccan eruptions, over millions of years, culminated with the most acute episode, more or less contemporaneously with a massive asteroid impact (!). According to the exponential extinction theory, the back and forth of near extinctions would have put a severe extinction pressure on the dinosaurs and the like, as smaller, more efficiently active mammals and birds would have put huge pressure on dinosaurs and flying reptiles (same in the sea). By eating their eggs to start with, as mammal and bird population would have exploded very fast back up at any relief.

      See: http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

      Speaking, indeed, of extinction events, I will adress Cyprus next. After celebrating the start of the Iraq war, ten years ago. In my own special way. A hint: European taxpayers ought not to finance Russian mobsters.
      PA

  15. Alex Jones Says:

    Neanderthals were never stupid, they are known to have used music and done cave painting.

    Cave bears were around long after the Neanderthals vanished, as proven by their claw marks over cave paintings made by homo sapiens at Chauvet.

    Neanderthals were the product of their times, they fell to the same climate change as did the mammoth, dire wolves and sabre-toothed cats.

    Alex Jones

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Alex: It’s not clear to me how old Chauvet is (most frequent quoted age is 32 K BP). I did not know there were claw marks over the paintings there, it’s news to me. What I do know is that in official science at this point the Cave Bear disappeared by 27,500 years ago, and pure Neanderthals were still found by 29,000 BP.

      Pure Neanderthals’ disappearance preceded that of the last mammoths by more than 20,000 years. There were mammoths on Wrangel island until historical times, definitively proving that mammoths did not disappear because it got cold. On the face ot it, that would be real weird. To claim species adapted to cold for more than half a million years disappeared because it got cold does not look cool to me.
      PA

  16. Paul Handover Says:

    Alex: You leave unsaid the implicit message that we may be following in the footsteps of the Neanderthals!

    Paul Handover

  17. Martin Lack Says:

    Hi Alex. Did you see any of the Andrew Marr’s History of the [Human] World programmes on the BBC last Autumn? In the first epsiode (i.e. covering 70k to 7k years BP) Andrew Marr clearly implied that he accepts the consensus view that Homo Sapiens triumphed over Neanderthals in the same way that the American grey squirrel is out-competing the British red squirrel. However, PA’s post adds a layer of complexity that is not obvious from such simplistic analogies as the grey-versus-red-squirrel.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Martin! Yes a new layer, a new dimension to extinction math. I really feel that solves it. I had been thinking about this fascinating problem much of my life…
      PA

  18. Gena Dix Says:

    Thought you might like this … http://blog.23andme.com/ancestry/find-your-inner-neanderthal/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=Find%2BYour%2BInner%2BNeanderthal&utm_campaign=onsite
    Find Your Inner Neanderthal | The 23andMe Blog
    blog.23andme.com
    23andMe tests can show how much Neanderthal DNA a person has..

  19. Edward Teach Says:

    DNA test tell the truth.

    Science is closing in on the truth every day, this should put a stop to much of the speculation.
    http://blog.23andme.com/ancestry/find-your-inner-neanderthal/comment-page-2/#comment-176080

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Edward: I am afraid that the distinction between speculation and demonstration should be prominent here. I DEMONSTRATED an EXPONENTIAL EXTINCTION mechanism of typically Neanderthalian traits (although it can apply to the eradication of entire species).

      DNA has to be used very carefully. Often recent usage of DNA has actually brought more question about the usage of DNA than about anything else. For example the short calendar from DNA on human evolution was long contradicted by field studies. Turned out the latter were true, and the DNA theory too naive by half (at the very least; so what looked like 2 million years with DNA was actually more than four, etc.)

      My theory is mathematical, it does not contradict the fact we have, or not, Neanderthal genetic material. It actually implies it could be much higher than found so far (for reasons I did not get into). Thanks for the link (I actually read the Neanderthal DNA studies when they came out, confirming what I suspected all along; the most recent studies show the highest supposedly Neanderthal DNA in North Africa).

      Mathematics is useful to roll out pieces of logic that can be used in various places. I am very proud of my EXPONENTIAL EXTINCTION MECHANISM, and I am sure that EEM will become an indispensable piece of the basic logic of evolution, urbi et orbi.

      Thanks for the comment, in any case! ;-)!
      PA

      • Edward Teach Says:

        Here’s a great artical on that.
        “The only modern populations without Neanderthal admixture are the sub-Saharan groups,” said researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox, a paleogeneticist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Barcelona, Spain.

        The researchers say their findings do not suggest that Neanderthals entered Africa and made intimate contact with ancient North Africans. Rather, “what we are saying is that the contact took place outside Africa, likely in the Near East, and that there was a back migration into Africa of some groups that peopled North Africa, likely replacing or assimilating some ancestral populations,” Lalueza-Fox told LiveScience.” http://news.discovery.com/human/evolution/neanderthals-modern-human-121101.htm

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Edward: It has been known for at least 40 years that there were alternance of Homo SS and Neanderthals in the Middle East (Israel). One does need DNA for that.

          2012 studies show very high Neanderthal genes in North Africa, and that, somehow the Neanderthals did not penetrate through the Sahara. Obviously they shipped across. Or, more exactly rafted.

          One has to be careful with blanket statements, these are still early times on DNA studies. That there are strictly no Neanderthal genes subsaharan seems to be true, but caution is of the essence. It’s already very surprising there is so much in N Africa, where Neanderthal’s massive anatomy would have seemed to be a handicap.

          Whereas my math is simple and unavoidable.
          PA

  20. JeffMcG Says:

    Patrice,

    For a well-known reason you failed to mention I find your argument no more enlightening than the latest theories you refer to which speculate as to why Neanderthal died off and Homo Sapiens Sapiens remained. In fact, the available paleontological and anthropological evidence strongly suggest it should have been the opposite. Neanderthal should have survived and Homo Sapiens Sapiens should have become extinct. Why this did not occur is a mystery scientists have failed to solve, making the latest enfeebled bleating from Oxford little more than a sideshow, a distraction from a more important question.

    If you wrote this merely to poke fun at yet another implausible theory about why the Neanderthal became extinct I award you one lower case “ha.”

    I find this evidence more credible than speculation about eye size, muscle mass or math because it is undisputed fact. Quite simply, irrefutably the female of the specie Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved with a characteristic that should have doomed it in comparison to Neanderthal: too narrow hips (perhaps it is more correct to say too narrow birth canal) to allow childbirth without complications which, until the advent of modern medicine resulted in very significant infant mortality and birth mothers dying during childbirth. This characteristic was not shared by Neanderthal, giving it a clear evolutionary advantage.

    It is thought by some evolutionary biologists that the physically weaker of the two species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, must have developed its intelligence – perhaps by many brains operating in parallel as you have suggested – to a significantly greater degree than Neanderthal to compensate for being the weaker of the two. And while this has been hypothesized in hopes of explaining how Homo Sapiens Sapiens could have developed an advantage despite the odds weighing heavily against it, it may also be true that both species had brains with unused capacity as is still the case today with modern man. Too, Neanderthal and its contemporary, Homo Sapiens Sapiens likely devoted the most consequential part of their higher brain activity to seeking better weapons for self-defense and more efficient, less dangerous ways of killing prey for food and comparatively less toward the advancement of peaceable coexistence.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Jeff:
      I never heard that Neanderthals had a birth canal advantage. Otherwise, you also suggest that Sapiens Sapiens was more clever, something that the Oxford people suggest, and that idea has been rolled out the very day the first Neanderthal was discovered.

      I did not try to poke fun. My argument, the EXPONENTIAL EXTINCTION theory is immensely powerful.

      It can be applied in any extinction situation, or more exactly, given an extinction situation, one will have to explain, FIRST, WHY EXPONENTIAL EXTINCTION does NOT apply.

      My argument depends upon:

      a) The notion of quasi-extinction. That, by itself, is its own mini-theory. it depends upon the predator-prey, or, more generally, supply-demand system of equations. It observes that total extinction is much harder to achieve than quasi-extinction.

      The rest of the theory explains why one can go from quasi-extinction to total extinction of what one could call (energy) expensive species (or energetically expensive genetic characteristics).

      b) Two, or more, species in competition or in predator-prey relationships of the non dependent type.

      c) Different rates of total energy investment among those species to reach reproduction age.

      The exponential function does the rest.
      Presto, it tends to explain why birds, mammals, crocodiles, lizards, turtles survive, and dinosaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, etc. disappeared. Or why cods are getting smaller.

      Oh, by the way, the theory above generalizes even further to explain why (systems of) stupid ideas tend to overwhelm so easily (systems of) clever ideas. Indeed, the reason is the same as above.

      Why? Because clever thought systems are more energetically expensive to establish than stupid ones.
      This explain why the most stupid types of plutocratic thought systems (Wahabbism, University of Chicago style deregulatory style economics) find relatively easy to progress…

      OK, momentary end to self glorification!

      For the birth canal:
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528133423.htm

      May 29, 2009 — Researchers from the University of California at Davis (USA) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) present a virtual reconstruction of a female Neanderthal pelvis from Tabun (Israel).

      -Although the size of Tabun’s reconstructed birth canal shows that Neanderthal childbirth was about as difficult as in present-day humans, the shape indicates that Neanderthals retained a more primitive birth mechanism than modern humans. The virtual reconstruction of the pelvis from Tabun is going to be the first of its kind to be available for download on the internet for everyone interested in the evolution of humankind (PNAS, April 20th, 2009). Etc….
      PA

  21. Jeff McG Says:

    Patrice,

    I did not mean that I believe Homo Sapiens Sapiens was more clever (your word, not mine.) The development of higher intelligence, however it occurred, was a huge leap in evolutionary terms and conferred an advantage orders of magnitude beyond clever.) This is the explanation given by evolutionary biologists seeking to explain how a physically weaker specie survived while Neanderthal became extinct in what would appear to have been essentially the same environment in which they sought food, shelter and other means of survival. Both species needed to hunt prey with red meat as iron was an essential nutrient to give birth to healthy children. If a virtual reconstruction of a female Neanderthal pelvis shows Neanderthal females also had frequent problems during childbirth this merely suggests both species should not have been favored by evolution. A virtual reconstruction is not fact. It is conjecture. The anatomical situation with Homo Sapiens Sapiens is fact. I merely believe Homo Sapiens Sapiens was more fortunate and had the circumstances been slightly different there might have been a different outcome.

    Man is arrogant and therefore believes his ascendency to dominate all other species was inevitable. Religions and political ideologies have promoted this in many different disguises. Man’s relationship with the Earth is more fragile than he realizes. Climate change is a disruptor man hasn’t reckoned with because modern man knows too little of the history of the planet and its past.

    I agree about climate change being a disruptor. In ancient times (Does a huge asteroid striking the Earth, causing dinosaurs to become extinct and reducing the oxygen content of the atmosphere qualify as climate change? Of course it does. ) climate change is thought to have been sufficiently disruptive at times to have upset whatever equilibrium existed. If it happened once, it may have happened more often than that.

    Your theory is interesting and I agree it explains some things well. The problem with theories is how messy the real world is compared to the best we can do on paper.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Jeff!
      My theory allows to explains how repeated quasi-extinctions will drive to extinction species (or genes/alleles subassemblies) when a stable competition situation existed before with one or more species with a lower metabolic load to reproduction.
      Quasi-extinctions with dinosaurs, pterosaurs, pleisiosaurs, etc.could have repeatedly happened: the Dekkan Traps were acting up.

      http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

      And it seems indeed that dinosaurs were in difficulty before the event that left this special metal layer (generally interpreted as an asteroid, but it could have a core eruption)
      PA

  22. KKontaktlinsen Says:

    Absoluter toller Blog. Werde jetzt öfter die Seite besuchen Vielen Dank und Grüsse aus Bonn

  23. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Now the first strings, 90,000 years old. Discoveries are piling up, suggesting Neanderthals discovered the roots of technology.

    For the longest time, the most demeaning things have been said about Neanderthals. A form of racism?

    Indeed, let’s think for a moment: Neanderthals evolved from archaic Homo Sapiens, and learned to thrive in obviously tougher conditions.

    Thus one should suspect that Neanderthals were actually smarter, superior in all ways to Homo Sapiens.

    So why did they disappear? That can be explained by pure mathematics, taking into account their higher mass. See:
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/why-did-neanderthals-disappear/

  24. Moe Badder Says:

    # “the propeller”
    Perhaps you mean the atlatl (Aztec) or woomera (Australia).
    # “mini lance”
    Most certainly a spear, rather than a lance.
    These distinctions are not mere semantics, but rather an important part of the history of weapons.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Moe, and wellcome to the comments! I agree that there is a difference between a spear launched by propeller and a lance. I don’t know what’s the incriminated passage, but I know that claims were made recently of very old arrows (~ 70 K, of Homo SS origin).

      Technology is exponentially increasing, so many new technologies appear 30k to 40K ago, and it’s not clear whether they originated from Neanderthals or Homo SS. Tradition (which I view as racist), systematically attributes them to Homo SS, but there is plenty of evidence the other way.
      Paradoxically, higher tech would have increase the pressure towards disappearance of neanderthals, as I more or less explain.

      I am preparing another essay on Neanderthals, specifically on their tech, in light of discovery of strings. Probably today!
      PA

    • Weird Prehistoric Object Says:

      Hi Moe

      Yes I think it is what Patrice meant…

  25. SPM Says:

    There is something very peculiar about Neanderthals (and humans) that needs to be answered before the question of why the neanderthals died out, and this article does not answer it.

    Neanderthals lived in Europe for at least half a million years, but was restricted to a small geographic region, a small population, and a slow rate of advancement. Humans were confined to Africa, and underwent a near extinction event in Africa due to a severe and prolonged drought prior to 100,000 years ago (which made extinct all the other members of genus Homo in Africa) with the human global population declining to about 10,000. When humans were able to leave Africa at about 75,000 years ago, within 75,000 years they spread to populate the entire globe, render extinct all other members of the Homo genus outside Africa, and a whole range of mega fauna in every continent when they arrived, overpopulate the world, land on the moon, send the first manmade object outside the solar system etc.

    My question is why did humans do this, but neanderthal man who had access to the less drought prone and easier to inhabit out of Africa living space not manage to achieve the same in half a million years? The fact is that humans are really weird in accomplishing all that. If you can explain why humans managed that – how the skills that were required to postulate the theory of relativity, or differential calculus were evolved in a stone age environment, then you have answered the question.

    My theory is that the difference is that humans are hardwired for learning – anything – music, maths, language, symbolic representation. Neanderthals used this for vision as other animals do, but humans used this for logic and symbolic processing through a quirk of evolution – possibly required for long distance navigation, keeping track of far flung relatives, and debts and favours, and having to teach how to do these to someone who has never been there or seen it using abstract language, and symbolic markers. These would have been real survival skills in drought affected Africa. Why is every other member of the Homo genus except humans endowed with heavy brow ridges – even large brained ones like the neanderthals? Why do humans take 20 years to achieve full brain maturity? My answer to that is that a gene flipped in humans that put them into child mode (complete with rounded child like skull shape) for 20 years in order to extend the amazing capability we have to program pattern recognition and symbolic representation which explains children’s incredible language learning skills to everything, and for the huge portion of our lives of 20 years. That is the only thing that can explain humans. Basically, we are hard wired for programming our brains for symbolic representation in the first 20 years of our lives in a way that neanderthals could do for only 8 years or so. This allows us to rapidly assimilate knowledge gained by others in a way that neanderthals could never do. Basically, humans and neanderthals wouldn’t be very different in their abilities except for one thing – humans could learn from others at a massively high rate in their first 20 years.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear SPM: Hello and welcome! Next time you should be able to post immediately, as I have authorized you that way.

      Your comments is full of statements that are viewed as common science, and whose implications are dramatic. However, I disagree with lots of them. The science, or more exactly the mathematics were often wrong. I have checked this for example with Charles Marshall, head of all the relevant museum at UC, and paleontology professor.

      The apparent “bottlenecks” were a downright silly misinterpretation of the obvious. In truth, there were no “bottlenecks”. To believe a drought killed nearly all humans is silly. Africa is a gigantic place, and water, unextinguishable water nearly everywhere (…once you avoid the deserts). The Congo’s average flow is 41,000 tons… per second. Its depth, up to 220 meters (deepest river in the world). The Nile is the world’s longest river, it feeds from an interior sea (in part).

      You make a lot of statements about the inferiority of Neanderthals. I guess, according to you, they needed bigger brains, because they were so stupid?

      My own, very subtle theory explains why Neanderthal TRAITS tended to disppeare.

      By coincidence, I was going to publish an essay on anti-Neanderthal racism… Today, or tomorrow…
      PA

  26. Speciation Math; Why It’s Crucial | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] If Neanderthal was that superior, he could not be wiped out. So, instead, one needed a more subtle explanation, which I provided: “Mathematics “Extinguished” Neanderthals”. […]

  27. Richard Sutton Says:

    I was in complete agreement with your comment to the NYT Paabo article. How the species that made the first big move from Africa, then colonized the Mediterranean and Northern Europe in a culture that lasted some 200K years could be seen, even now as “inferior”, just defies science. I released a novel in 2012 that reinforced the idea that there was a lot more behind the dwindling of the Neanderthal than “inferiority” or even an inability to adapt to the warming trends. I agree. It was numbers. Their much harder environment adaptations made them less fast to reproduce, and the newcomers bred like rabbits. My book is called Troll. Let me know if you’d like to read it.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Richard, and welcome to the comments! Thank for your support! Yes, anti-Neanderthal racism is an astounding thing. Each time we use coal, a thread, or look at a dog, we see Neanderthal technology and science, still in action.

      It was indeed numbers. Not only the new comers bred like rabbits (being smaller), but even within individuals, most Neanderthal genetic and epigenetic adaptations (to a polar climate) became superfluous and a burden (in part at least because of Neanderthal tech!) So Neanderthals, I tried to explain, reverted to carp (so to speak, as when fancy colored fishes go back to their carpal appearance in a few generations).

      The most astounding fact is that Paabo and homologues have precisely demonstrated, in 2014, that this effect is on-going!

      So strong is racism…

      An obvious selection pressure on Neanderthals, and their ancestors, Homo Heidelbergsis (or “Chapelle Aus Saints” Homo), obviously was smarts. More smarts to survive the cold regions of the planet, something no primate had done before.

      Just like Paabo showed Neanderthal genes dominate in the matter of skin, one can presume that half a million years of higher smarts to survive in MORE difficult circumstances, may have left a trace. And it has been known for nearly a century that known Neanderthal skulls (more than 200) show a significantly higher brain capacity(200 cm^3)..

      In spite of that fact that ought to have been inconvenient, the representation of Neanderthals as simple, unsuccessful brutes has endured.

      I’m interested by your book (but I’m also hyper busy, so my “interests” don’t always find time to flourish!!!!).

      I think ideas rule. Even wrong ideas rule. My being anti-Neanderthal, people reassure themselves, flaunt and demonstrate to others, their appurtenance to the human species. Well, too much by a long shot.

      I will try to gather all this in an essay… If I find time!
      In any case, I hope I see you again here, and once again, I’m interested by your book… Some books written about prehistory, long long ago, turned out to have been pretty realistic.
      PA

  28. Neanderthal Superiority | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] question, why did Neanderthals go extinct? is itself going extinct. As I tried to explain in “Mathematics “Extinguished” Neanderthals”, Neanderthals probably did not go extinct. They were too superior, to just disappear. Instead they […]

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