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Prehistoric Autopsy

English: Glasgow University

English: Glasgow University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night Professor Alice Roberts was shown at Glasgow University, announcing that she was going to look into the skeleton of one of our ancestors.  Some bones showed evidence of cannibalism and, it was agreed among the experts that these creatures supported themselves by stabbing other, larger animals.

Neanderthals have survived in a way, as our ancestors must have bred with them.  In the north of Europe we share 2-4% of our DNA with them.

The skeleton which Roberts was reconstructing evidenced a male, 5’6”, bow-legged, 40-50 years old, with asymmetrically developed arms.  He had ground his teeth down to the gums, but, it was argued, these prototypes had culture and produced artwork- eg/ the red dots painted on a cave wall 41,000 years ago.  They could express themselves, but with limited vowels. Therefore their ability to produce language as such is still debated.  Diseases which afflicted them included heart disease and lung cancer.

So why are we saying that the species is extinct?