Neanderthals May Have Been Sailors

Picture: Rawansari (CC)

It’s amazing to me to see how our perceptions of the Neanderthals have changed over the last 200 years, give or take. Once thought to be brutish, slow creatures, we now know that they had art, burial rituals, language and possibly even religion. Now, some scientists think that they may have been sailors as well – thousands of years before such things were thought to have occurred:

Via Live Science:

Neanderthals and other extinct human lineages might have been ancient mariners, venturing to the Mediterranean islands thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

This prehistoric seafaring could shed light on the mental capabilities of these lost relatives of modern humans, researchers say.

Scientists had thought the Mediterranean islands were first settled about 9,000 years ago by Neolithic or New Stone Age farmers and shepherds.

“On a lot of Mediterranean islands, you have these amazing remains from classical antiquity to study, so for many years people didn’t even look for older sites,” said archaeologist Alan Simmons at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

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10 Comments on "Neanderthals May Have Been Sailors"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Nov 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm |

    Okay, which wiseacre over at Disinfo offices decided to illustrate this with a photo of Dave Grohl?
    On a more serious note, maybe we identified the wrong branch of the human family as the black sheep after all . . . .

    • Matt Staggs | Nov 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

      I thought he looked like Thulsa Doom in Conan!

      • It’s funny that you mention Conan; the first thing I thought of was how Robert Howard set his Hyperborian stories on Earth, before the Ice Age would have wiped any evidence of the great citiy-states of his stories out to the sea. It would be something if Howard were to one day be seen in the same light that Jules Verne is now.

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 17, 2012 at 1:03 am |

          Göbekli Tepe hardly seems like a first attempt and that’s coming at the end of glaciation. Granted that’s a couple 10’s of thousands of years apart from estimated Neanderthal extinction. With the oldest examples of megaliths in Anatolia and the time spans between the extent of megalith culture and the origins of Sumer and Dynastic Egypt it doesn’t seem like too tenuous of a thread for continuous civilization. Especially if
          you consider the stressors of immense climate change brought on by glaciation.

        • Matt Staggs | Nov 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

          It’s fun stuff, but I think Howard cribbed a lot of it from Blavatsky and Ignatius L. Donnelly. I’m a huge REH fan, for the record.

  2. InfvoCuernos | Nov 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm |

    Sailors…or really good swimmers?

  3. BuzzCoastin | Nov 17, 2012 at 6:50 am |

    wait until they discover that Neanderthals are our extinct evolutionary ancestors
    that we may not be superior too, but merely well adapted mutations

    that will blow their minds

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