Neanderthals were our evolutionary cousins, so to speak. In prehistoric times, we lived together side by side, before the Neanderthals disappeared and only Homo sapiens (that’s us) remained. But why? Researchers at the Simon Fraser University in Canada may have found the answer. Neanderthals may have died out due to a failure to wear parkas.
Thanks to the hit film series, most of you should be aware of the ice age. It was during this time that humanity began to make their mark on the planet, and it was during this time that the Neanderthal died out, despite being bigger and stronger than us, their weak, nerdy siblings.
Researchers Mark Collard, Lia Tarle, Dennis Sandgathe and Alexander Allan published their findings in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. Piecing together all the evidence, they have deduced that Neanderthals met their end due to the relatively benign reason of not wearing warm clothing once the globe got chilly. Particularly, the parka, that oh-so-lovely snuggly fuzzy bit of clothing that serves us well to this day, has not been found around any Neanderthal campsite remains. In fact, hardly any warm clothing whatsoever has been found around their campsites. The remains of early Homo sapiens campsites, on the other hand, have been found to contain an abundance of animal furs, including fo, rabbit, mink, and wolverine.
Notable, Wolverine fur is still used to this day to make warm clothing for humans living in the Arctic, so effective it is at keeping us warm. In addition, while studying 56 different early human campsites, the researchers found even more evidence to suggest we kept warm while our hairier cousins did not. Homo sapiens campsites have turned up remains of bone needles for sewing, and tools for scraping pelts. Neanderthal campsites have been absent of such tools.
Now, it’s well-known that we Homo sapiens are smarter than Neanderthals were, but our jockish cousins weren’t completely animalistic. For this reason, the researchers aren’t yet sure whether Neanderthals were simply not intelligent enough to design this clothing, or if they had some sort of tradition or prejudice which prevented their use.
If the latter is true, it would explain a lot. The next time you see a disgruntled parent chiding their surly teenage child for wearing a hoodie, we can rest assured that that parent is simply calling on an ancient, primal part of themselves; the last remnants of our Neanderthal DNA.