Monday, April 04, 2005

Free Trade Caused the Neanderthals to go Extinct?

According to this article. According to the article, to be published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, computer simulations indicate that neanderthals were done in by free trade. From the article:

"He cites archaeological evidence that suggests that humans, who joined Neanderthals in Europe about 40,000 years ago, specialised and traded both within and between regions. The evidence includes complex living quarters with different sections partitioned for different functions. Neanderthals, in contrast, lived in “largely unorganised” living spaces. (The Mousterian tool tradition was also fairly uniform acrioss a wide geographic area -afarensis)

There is also evidence that the early humans, mainly one population called the Gravettians, imported materials. Ivory, stones, fossils, seashells and crafted tools were found dispersed through many regions. This greater pool of resources led to increased innovation, says Shogren."


"Shogren tested his theory with simulations of population growth. He even gave the Neanderthals, who were larger than Homo sapiens, a head start by assuming they were better hunters and individually brought home more meat - which may or may not be true.

But because humans were allowed to trade, in two of three similar simulations, they overcame this initial handicap and ousted the Neanderthals within 7000 years. In the third simulation, the two ended up co-existing."

I hasten to say, that I am not convinced. Many theories have been proposed for the extinction of the neanderthals. Among them this theory climing cold temperatures killed them off (even though most paleoanthropologists see a lot of "cold adapted" traits in neanderthal anatomy).