New Neanderthals

Table of Contents

Journal notes regarding the "new Neanderthals".   So. It seems really extraordinary that we would travel all the way to another world only to find human-like people over there. How could evolution go exactly the same and recreate such similar species? Of course, the Faverians look a lot like us too, but it's mostly a superficial similarity, with a lot of difference with our inner biology. Not so much with those human-lookalike. The obvious explanation is that they too travelled between the worlds a look time ago. And when I shared my thoughts with the rest of our group, they all decided they looked just like our cousins the Neanderthals and the name stuck.   Of course, there is no way to confirm or refute any of this without some genetic analysis, and reestablishing molecular biology labs are not exactly the priority right now. Not to mention that I highly doubt that, in the few internet servers we've managed to save from Earth and bring here with us, we've miraculously managed to get the ones where all anthropological biology archives where located. Without DNA from our own Neanderthals, no way of doing any comparison. Still, we can look at other hints.    

Biology

 
The true Neanderthals and our new Neanderthal friends seem to share some common skeletal structures: they are both more robust than us, with stockier builds, yet they are shorter by an average 20 cm, especially with forearms and forelegs that are shorter proportionally to the rest of their bodies. They rib cages are wider and with longer and straighter rib bones than us, giving them bigger lung capacity—and we can certainly hear the difference when they start shouting! They also have wider pelvises, probably to compensate for the rib cage. Their bodies seem to be better at sprinting than us, making them faster but absolutely terrible at endurance. We, sapiens, are, of course, persistence hunter who pursue our preys over long distance until they drop of exhaustion.   Similarly, the new Neanderthals' face also bear similarity to our Neanderthals. Their eyes are bigger, and they have a sloping forehead and a projecting nose that starts higher on the face. Their chin is straighter, their jaw and some of their teeth larger, but their bite force seems pretty similar to ours. The back of their skull has more of a protrusion too. On the other hand, they have the same red and brown hair as us, brown eyes, and lightly tanned skin. This means that they assimilate our light skin and eyes colours with the Faverians but don't know what to do with our Asian and African skin phenotypes or blond hair.   Finally, new Neanderthals' children mature faster than us, sapiens, and their lifespans are shorter. But like their size, it is difficult to say how much of this is due to bad diet and medicine. What is sure is that they also only have babies in the spring rather than year round like us.Our abilities to reproduce together is unknown at this stage but likely to be limited. It was hypothesised that only males of our Neanderthals could reproduce with our female sapiens ancestors, with only girl offspring being further able to reproduce. We'll have to watch out for what happens when the first inter-species couples will form.
Neanderthal skeletons, with a sapiens' pelvis by Claire Houck
 

Comparison of Sapiens and Neanderthal skulls by Matt Celeskey, taken at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

 

Culture

 
From what our Earth scientists used to theorised about Neanderthals compared to us, sapiens, one point that particularly stroke me is that of uniformisation & optimisation vs individualism & creativity. Apparently our sapiens ancestors were big on optimising the silex creation processes and producing them at an industrial scale with a high degree of standardisation. Meanwhile, the Neanderthals were better at perfectly adapting their work to each individual stone they were using, thus making one perfect and unique silex at a time, at the price of constantly having to reinvent their processes.   While this is a stretch, the scientists also hypothesised that the same difference could be translated to our cultures. Us, sapiens, love grouping of population and uniformity among us, as well as group activities like big dances with everyone doing the same movements at the same time with a military precision that would be frightening to outsiders. And reversely, we hate anyone standing out and being too different. Loath as I am to admit it, even those of us wanting to see ourselves as progressive and tolerant have to struggle against this instinct. As for the old Neanderthals, the theory goes that they could have been the opposite of us, valuing creativity and difference more, but at the price of optimisation and anything large scale.   All of this was, of course, only theories, as deducing what the culture of a species was like from just archaeological remains is rather challenging. However, all of this could absolutely fit our new Neanderthals! Their capital and other settlements are certainly scarcely populated. This could be attributed to them being at a pre-industrial level, but, even in antiquity, we had enormous cities on Earth and this doesn't seem to be the case for them anywhere on the planet. They also always struggle with any kind of rule and process we try to share with them, no matter how safer and more efficient they are. Similarly, they have troubles with thinking by analogy and extrapolating information.   What I don't know about is if they truly value differences more than us. I would have said no, but I think I might be too optimistic with my vision of our little survivor group. If we ever stop our war with the Faverians, we'll have to ask them for an outsider opinion. One thing that is sure is that our new Neanderthals certainly do not discriminate based on genders and are baffled by the few divisions that remain in our own society despite us being rather progressive.
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal man by Pressebilder Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann
   

Conclusion

 
Now that we've identified our new friends with our old Neanderthals, we must be extremely careful not to look down on them as some savages or animal-like creatures that are inherently inferior. We often have this misconception of Darwin's evolution theory as meaning that anything down the line is more advanced, whereas survival just means than something is more adapted to the current environment, with no implication regarding intelligence.   We have to respect those new Neanderthals and never treat them with condescension, either for the limitations of their biology or their subjugation to the Faverians. They are our cousins and natural allies, and we should rather learn from each other and take examples on their supposed higher tolerance and creativity. Nevertheless, we also have to be careful not to hurry to share all the secrets of our technologies with them. We are isolated in a foreign world without resources and surrounded by enemies; our knowledge is the only wealth we have left. In addition, if we truly want to improve the Neanderthals' societies, we do need a bargaining chip to force their leaders towards a more democratic form of government. Respecting other people is all well and good, but what respect do common people get when we respect tyrants?   Thus, we should treat the Neanderthals as newly rediscovered distant cousins, but family or not, our own people should always come first.
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal Woman by the article in PLoS Biol. 2004 Dec; 2(12): e449.



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