Monday, June 17, 2013

Sir, would you like yours medium or well-done?

The third recent paper [1] that returns us to the superior modern humans takes the biscuit. This is a very simple idea – Modern Humans ate the Neanderthals to extinction! Can you believe this? After a convoluted argument the authors concede that:

“Therefore, although at this time there is no clear evidence of widespread slaughter of Neanderthals by AMHs, this could simply be due to the taphonomical difficulty of preserving human remains.”

In other words, we have no evidence but we like the idea so why not? Let’s blame lack of evidence on poor preservation. Well, I would suggest that we adopt the alternative view: let’s find the evidence and then we can talk.

With this I rest my case: three recent papers, coming from different angles but all trying to cling on to the modern human superiority faith. I repeat a challenge that I have often made to the replacement gurus: show me one, just one, piece of conclusive evidence that modern humans out-competed, indirectly or more directly as this last paper claims, the Neanderthals. It’s simple really, get the data and the discussion will be over; in the process we will all be spared from this seemingly endless flow of speculation.

[1] P. Hortola, B. Martínez-Navarro (2013) The Quaternary megafaunal extinction and the fate of Neanderthals: An integrative working hypothesis.  Quaternary International 295: 69-72


  1. Sounds like a bit for the 'Bad Archaelogy'web site.

  2. I had occasion to talk to Bienvenido (one of the authors of the article) about certain details of paper. Leaving aside the reasoning which I will not get (it's a nice story), its findings respond no to ecological or mathematical model known for this case (or at least I do not know).
    I have read the paper some time ago, but I remember my notes.

  3. Yes Antonio but the conclusion is unsupported by fact

  4. It's just a well-constructed tale.
    It is not verifiable.

  5. Clive, from the beginning I'm you giving the reason.
    These types of articles (there are many more) are very harmful.