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November 14, 2007

Feminism's First Casualty: The Neanderthals

The genocide and extinction of an entire species, all due to females not knowing their proper place in the cave, slaving over a hot firepit.

The Neanderthal extinction some 30,000 years ago remains one of the great riddles of evolution, with rival theories blaming everything from genocide committed by "real" humans to prehistoric climate change.

But a recent study introduces another explanation: Stone Age feminism.

...

The University of Arizona's Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, use archeological evidence to argue that Neanderthal females - unlike Homo sapien women of the Upper Paleolithic period - joined men in hunts at a time when stabbing giant beasts with a sharpish stone affixed to a stick represented the cutting edge of technology.

That's courageous, but probably bad practice for a population that never numbered much more than 10,000 individuals. The loss of a few males to a flailing hoof or slashing antler is no big deal, in the long run. But losing females of child-bearing age could bring doom to a hard-pressed species.

"All elements of [Neanderthal] society appear to have been involved in the main subsistence pursuit" of hunting large animals, Kuhn said. "There's not much evidence of classic female roles.

"Putting the reproductive core of the population - pregnant women, mothers of infants, children themselves - at such danger could have put Neanderthals as a whole at serious demographic disadvantage," he said.

Not only would women suffer casualties, Kuhn said, their full participation in the hunt would mean they were not harvesting wild grains and other foods that could sustain their roving bands when game was scarce.

Sexism: Nature's Little Darwinian Advantage.

Ladies, when we tell you to shut up and make us a roasted auroch sandwich, we've got the very survival of the species foremost in mind.

Seriously, we tried all this before, and it wiped us out. Let's go back to what works.

PS, I don't believe a word of this. These guys have such limited fact-sets but spin out such large speculations based on them it's absurd.

Thanks to someone.


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posted by Ace at 12:43 PM

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