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- Created on Monday, 29 February 2016 16:37
When I first published “Heart of the Bison” (2002) paleontologists were still in disagreement as to whether Neandertals and Cro-Magnons could mate and produce live offspring. Since then, DNA has pretty much put the argument to bed, and since most of the population of the Earth has traces of Neandertal DNA, it comes out in favor of live offspring, and it must have happened fairly often. I’m very happy about this because important points of the story of “Heart of the Bison” hinge on offspring from Neandertal/Cro-Magnon mating.
One of the important characters resulted from a Cro-Magnon male forcing himself on a Neandertal female. Though this would seem unlikely because Cro-Magnons would have thought Neandertals were incredibly ugly, it was a matter of some curiosity for the male. Forced sex would not have had the same implications in those early cultures as it does today. He had never seen a Neandertal before, so it was unlikely he would ever see another one.
The other mixed breed character was the product of romantic relationship and deep love between a Cro-Magnon male and a Neandertal female. It was a challenge to create a situation where this could seem believable to a reader. Not only would they be unattractive to each other, but the cultural and religious backgrounds would be completely incompatible. They wouldn’t even speak the same language. Well —— this is impossible.
The things these two mixed breed characters did in “Heart of the Bison” 25,000 years ago were destined to impact important events in “Spirit Fire” 5,000 years ago and in “Search for the Heart of the Bison” at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
- Created on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 11:55
Last week’s post was a story about Vertic Almann and Upp Rytemann, fictional Homo erectus hunters. Vertick joined the first great Homo migration out of Africa about 500,000 years ago. Homo is the genus of hominids that began with Homo habilis (about 2.5 million years ago) and includes modern men. The great migration was slow, taking more than 100,000 years. During that time, Homo erectus spread all across the northern hemisphere of the old world. Because of the great distance, groups evolved in different ways, including Java Man, Peking Man, and many others.
In Europe and the Middle East, Homo erectus gradually evolved into the Neandertals about 200,000 years ago. Many consider them to be the first Homo sapiens. Their DNA differs from modern men by only 0.12% – close enough that interbreeding was possible. Neandertals are Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. In Africa, the descendants of Upp evolved to become modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, about 100,000 years ago.
About 80,000 years ago, the second mass migration out of Africa began. This time, the Cro-Magnons (Homo sapiens sapiens) spread throughout the world. Every place they went, they replaced the descendants of the first migration. When it was over, only the Cro-Magnons were left. However, modern DNA science has shown that some Cro-Magnons did breed with Neandertals and traces of Neandertal DNA still remain in many modern humans.
When Cro-Magnons reached Europe and the Middle East (about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago) Neandertals were dominate. Within 15,000 to 20,000 years, all archeological evidence indicates that Neandertals had become extinct. During that period, Cro-Magnons and Neandertals lived in the same land and most certainly there was interaction – the traces of Neandertal DNA in modern humans testify to that. Many theories exist about the cause of the Neandertal extinction.
In Heart of the Bison an important interaction between Neandertals and Cro-Magnons is depicted. A clan on Neandertals struggles to survive. A powerful Spirit Fire is given to the clan, and a new teaching is introduced; a teaching, along with ceremonies, that will strengthen their ties and hide their existence from their contemporaries and modern archeologists.
- Created on Wednesday, 06 May 2015 14:24
Vertik Almann, a Homo erectus male, led nine hunting males. He saw strange hunters on a hill. Vertik didn’t count, but he sensed strangers were encroaching in his troop’s hunting ground more often. When strange males brought females, the hunters would readily trade their familiar females to get the new, exotic ones. Strange males hunting were different.
Vertik confronted the leader of the strange males. In a short battle, Vertik managed to trip his opponent and knock him to the ground. Once on the ground the other leader quickly signaled defeat and led his troop away.
Vertik spent a fitful night. In the morning, he felt a strong desire to move his troop north. He could not explain it or analyze it. He kicked at the fire and pointed in the direction he wanted to move.
The second largest male, Upp Rytemann, refused to move from this familiar ground. Vertik slapped him across the chest, and grabbing his leg, threw him off balance. Upp should have given the accepted sign of defeat; instead he stood up and threw a rock at Vertik, hitting him in the head. Such an action had never been seen. Members of the troop would throw rocks at other animals, but to throw a rock at another Homo erectus was not done.
Vertick fell but did not yield—partly because he was dazed and partly because nothing in his background told him how to act when struck down by a rock.
Upp called the troop to join him. Several members of the troop picked up their things and moved beside Upp on the south side of the fire. Vertik stood up and led the rest of the troop north. Eventually other troops moved north and spread out of Africa into Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. At the average rate of about four or five miles a year it took hundreds of thousands of years for them to populate those areas. The distance between these far-flung areas prevented the homogeneous spreading of evolutionary adaptations. Marked differences between the Asian, European, and African populations began to appear.
- Created on Monday, 27 April 2015 10:01
Earl E. Mann, leader of a Homo habilis troop, left the group of hunters. He grunted at them, throwing both arms in the air as he did. It was a signal to leave him alone. He was born with twenty-three sounds and thirty-eight body movements and postures imprinted in his brain to communicate with others of his troop. Using them, he could deliver over 250 messages. This ability to communicate came from the great font of knowledge and skill his progenitors had developed as part of their instinctive survival system on the dry East African savannahs. While the bulk of his knowledge came from this instinct and was stored in the ever-growing portion of the brain located in the back of his skull, the ability to learn and teach was beginning to develop in his brain’s frontal lobes.
Earl was agitated because the hunters had found no food all morning. After wandering alone for a little over an hour, he saw buzzards circling on the horizon. His people were capable of killing small animals, but usually he and his hunters would scavenge from the kills of large predators.
Earl chased the buzzards away, but he knew he would not be able to chase the hyenas or large cats when they came. Quickly, he ate as much as he could, tearing the flesh with his teeth and swallowing it in large gulps. When he was filled, he picked up two stones and hit them together just at the right angle to create a sharp edge on one of them. He used the sharp edge to chop off two large pieces of meat. As he was leaving with his meat, the hyenas arrived. He shouted and threw a well-aimed stone at them before running away with his prize.
When he got back to the troop, he found the other hunters had returned empty handed. The females gathered tubers and insect larva near their camp, which were added to the meat Earl brought. Their camps were temporary stopping places as they wandered the savanna searching for food.
- Created on Thursday, 16 April 2015 11:36
Hawmo Nid jumped up from his sleep and screamed the alarm! His troop of Australopithecines (pre-humans) sprang to action. The females and children leaped to the tree they were sleeping under. The tree stood alone on the dry savannahs of East Africa. The males moved to the base of the tree in a defensive position.
A pride of hungry cats came from the tall grass. The males screamed, throwing dirt and stones in the direction of the cats, but the cats were too hungry to be dissuaded. The cats tore into the males in a frenzy of hunger. All of the males except Hawmo were slaughtered. Hawmo ran to the tree.
The cats surrounded the tree. As time went on, members of the troop began to leap from the tree trying to escape. None succeeded. Soon, only Hawmo, a female, and her cub were left.
Then, far away, a mountain that would be named Sadiman exploded, sending towers of ashes into the air. The cats ran. Four hours later, Hawmo made the call that meant follow me and left the tree. The female and the adolescent followed.
The female walked close to Hawmo’s side, brushing her shoulder against his arm as she walked. The ground was covered in volcanic ash. The first storm of the season dropped a steady, light rain. The water reacted with the ash, causing a carbonate crust to form over the top.
Walking in the soft, wet ash was difficult. The adolescent began walking in Hawmo’s footprints. The female stopped to look at the new foreboding world. She watched as Hawmo forged resolutely on. The adolescent followed, half jumping, his arms spread to maintain balance as he tried to walk in the footsteps. The female brushed a tear from her cheek and hurried after the others.
Over the next two weeks, the mountain erupted three more times, burying the tracks left in the carbonate crust. Under the ash, the carbonate gradually turned to a crystalline mineral called trona. The trona fossilized, immortalizing the footprints of the male, female, and playful adolescent.
- Created on Wednesday, 08 April 2015 14:03
Daws Tart swirled crazily in super-heated water near hot lava oozing from a fissure at the bottom of a three-mile-deep ocean. The temperature was over eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit, but the water could not boil because of the extreme pressure.
In the vast emptiness of space, only the rarest of conditions exist where water can endure in a liquid state. One of those locations existed on the third planet from a minor star on the outskirts of an average galaxy. Eventually the planet would be called Earth. Without water, what happened on this day could not have happened. This story could not be told.
The water around Daws was full of complicated chains of similar molecules. The atomic building blocks for these molecules were exuded with lava from tens of thousands of miles of fissures on the bottoms of oceans all over the earth.
Above the oceans, the atmosphere consisted of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, toxic gases, and water vapor. Earth’s surface was regularly bombarded by meteors and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Perhaps it was inevitable, or perhaps it was just a freak accident. In a highly creative moment, a molecule similar to Daws was violently thrown from the surface of the lava. The two molecules smashed together and joined, forming a larger molecule different from any molecule on Earth. This new molecule began a series of actions so fantastic they would eventually change everything on Earth, impact the moon, and perhaps change the entire universe.
Shortly after the impact, the molecule split into two identical halves. In the energy-rich molecular soup, each half sifted through the smaller molecules and atoms and began to rebuild. In a short time, two molecules identical to Daws were formed.
The new molecules spread all along the volcanic fissures. Some did not split at all the right bonds, and most of those lost the ability to duplicate. However, in some cases, the mistake improved the molecule’s ability to split and rebuild. Eventually, the improved molecules began to replace the earlier ones. A new world was underway.
- Created on Sunday, 26 May 2013 20:27
“Heart of the Bison” is a novel about Neandertals. What is a Neandertal? The evolutionary trail of mankind leads back to Africa. As the lush jungle of East Africa dried out over 4 million years ago, the primates in the jungle had to evolve or go extinct. They stood on their hind legs and progressed through many stages of evolution such as Australopithecines, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus. About 200,000 years ago a group of the African Homo erectus that had moved to Europe evolved into the first Homo sapiens. These were Homo sapiens neanderthalensis—the Neandertals.
- Created on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 15:49
Five million years ago the most advanced primates were the great apes in Africa. Then shifting tectonic plates created the Himalayan Mountains in Asia and the Great Rift Fissure in Africa. The mountains changed the weather in eastern Africa and the fissure trapped the apes there. The jungles of East Africa dried up and were replaced by desert-like steppes. The apes in the steppes became the Hominids that developed to become variations of early man. After several million years, Homo erectus appeared.
Homo erectus spread from Africa across Europe and Asia. They evolved into more advanced forms of Homo, including; Peking Man in china and Neandertals in Europe. The existence of Neandertals in Europe goes back as early as 250,000 years ago. They were the first Homo sapiens – Homo sapiens neanderthalansis.
The first Cro-Magnons, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared in East Africa around 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. Some of them migrated out of Africa reaching Europe around 40,000 years ago. The Cro-Magnons replaced all the decedents of Homo erectus; including Peking man, Java man, and the Neandertals.
Because of the high exposure to sun on the steppes, it is almost certain that all the human evolutionary progenitors including Homo erectus and Cro-Magnons had highly pigmented skin to protect them from damaging solar rays.
As Cro-Magnons moved to cooler climates, their skin gradually lightened, most likely because they were exposed the sun less and because their diets in the northern climates contained less vitamin D. Lightly pigmented skin produces more vitamin D in sunshine than darker skin. The further north the Cro-Magnons moved, the lighter their skin became. The transformation occurred in less than 40,000 years.
Since Neandertals lived in Europe for about 200,000 years, it is almost certain their skin color evolved to lighter shades. So when the Cro-Magnons first entered Europe, they would have still been dark-skinned and they would have encountered light-skinned Neandertals, who were, therefore, the first white people. It is probably some level of white hubris that depicts Neandertals as dark-skinned and Cro-Magnons as lighter.
We are all descendants of the African Cro-Magnons. It seems like fifty shades of stupid to differentiate ourselves based on color pigmentation.
- Created on Saturday, 18 May 2013 20:26
In junior high school, in the late 1950s, I developed a desire to write a novel about what it would be like if Neandertals had survived to live in today’s world. I have read several novels that address the question. “Neanderthal” by John Darnton and “Ember from the Sun” by Mark Canter are interesting examples, but neither does what I wanted to do. The first step for my story involves providing a logical explanation of how some Neandertals were able to survive the extinction of their kind. “Heart of the Bison,” the first book in the Neandertal trilogy, answers that question.
Latest Blog Posts
Cro-Magnon - Neadertal mating
When I first published “Heart of the Bison” (2002) paleontologists were still in disagreement as to whether Neandertals and Cro-Magnons could mate and produce live offspring. Since then, DNA has...
Neandertal - Cro-Magnon
Last week’s post was a story about Vertic Almann and Upp Rytemann, fictional Homo erectus hunters. Vertick joined the first great Homo migration out of Africa about 500,000 years ago. Homo is the...
500,000 BCE: Vertik Almann
Vertik Almann, a Homo erectus male, led nine hunting males. He saw strange hunters on a hill. Vertik didn’t count, but he sensed strangers were encroaching in his troop’s hunting ground more often....
1.6 million years BCE: Earl E Mann
Earl E. Mann, leader of a Homo habilis troop, left the group of hunters. He grunted at them, throwing both arms in the air as he did. It was a signal to leave him alone. He was born with...
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