[Paleopsych] “Not Pooch, but Rudolf was Man’s best Friend!”

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Tue Jan 4 07:11:30 UTC 2005

>From the pen of Val Geist.  In my  opinion, this is bloody brilliant:
“Not Pooch, but Rudolf was Man’s  best Friend!” 
Reindeer were our salvation as they  allowed us to speed towards complex 
cultures and obliterate our powerful rival,  Neanderthal man. Without Reindeer, it 
is not unlikely that we would be still in  a stone-age culture, and 
Neanderthal would be probably alive and well, and  excluding us from much of Eurasia. 
In the above paper I  explain step by step how we managed to gain on 
Neanderthal and ultimately starve  him out. And reindeer were central to that! The paper 
explains why.
Why start with that? It’s as good as any point, because human evolution  is 
tied to it and we can radiate wherever we care to look.  
In a (big!) nutshell: With the first glacial maximum of the last  glaciation 
(Wuerm/ Wisconsinian) at about 60,000 BP, Neanderthal shrank back  from the 
severely aired Mediterranean basin towards the rich European  periglacial zones, 
allowing desert-adapted Cro-Magnids to escape out of Africa  and move east to 
at least Australia. Because ocean levels were then at last 100  m lower we 
know nothing archeologically about this break out. However, we have  reason to 
assume that boat cultures developed along the ocean shores. At about  40,000 
BP, during an interstadial, Cro-Magnids thrust north and split, one  branch 
going west along the glacial front of the Scandinavian ice sheath. The  other 
branch heads east towards central Asia. Cro-Magnon  occupies a wedge of land just 
south of the Scandinavian ice sheath an just north  of Neanderthal geographic 
distribution which clings close to mountains and  montane glaciers. This 
situation continues for some five to six thousand years,  till Neanderthal goes 
extinct. We and they were thus close together for  thousands of years, and the 
demise of Neanderthal man was slow. Only then did we  occupy all of Europe. 
There is no evidence for warfare  between us and them. How was prolonged 
co-existence possible? Why no  interbreeding? What killed off Neanderthal? 
Examining the Cro-magnids we note that some 95 % of the bones recovered  from 
their sites are reindeer bones; other species such as mammoth, wooly rhino,  
giant deer, are rare in Upper Paleolithic deposits, but common in Neanderthal  
sites. Cro-magnids, but not Neanderthal man, distinguish themselves as 
artists.  However, the cave artists are fascinated not by reindeer, on which they 
depend  for food, but with dangerous beasts. To make along story short: the 
evidence  suggests that the painters were young men. They were very courageous 
young men  for it takes real guts to crawl deep into the earth with the equipment 
they had  and then paint a scene. Now, Dale Guthrie, who has written a book 
on this  subject, argues that the paintings reflect the wishes of young men to 
give an  excellent account of their prowess – by confronting the largest an 
most  dangerous of the fauna. In short: cave art is bravado by young men. Though 
they  ate reindeer, they dreamt mammoth etc.! Reindeer were food;  mammoths 
were sport!  
The Cro-magnids grew large, athletic bodies and huge brains!  They apparently 
killed reindeer in  excess, then stored the products. The trick was to catch 
the reindeer crossing  in a canyon at an acceptable place where they can be 
killed in excess of need  with hand-thrown attl- attls. To do so regularly, 
demanded that the hunters had  to predict accurately when the reindeer crossed at 
what place. Reindeer  migrations are tied to chronologic time and can only be 
predicted by someone who  could keep track of annual chronologic time, that 
is, by someone who had a  calendar. Mashack postulated 1972 that the “baton de 
commandement” made of the  2nd antler tine of reindeer bulls was a lunar 
calendar. Since  reindeer cross rivers at predictable places, a calendar allowed one 
to  anticipate and plan for reindeer migrations. Therefore reindeer could be  
exploited to the high level observable. With reindeer meat and products  
preserved, Cro magids were free to indulge in other activities for times between  
reindeer fall and spring migrations. Hunting for sport large and dangerous  
creatures was one option which, besides “glory”, also supplied fresh meat and  
welcome relief from dried, smoked and fermented reindeer.  
Neanderthal was dependent not on reindeer, which he killed occasionally,  but 
on large-bodied megafauna from the mammoth steppe – mammoth, woolly rhino,  
horses, bison, giant deer. He was restricted to the over-wintering areas of  
these giants close to large glaciers which, harboring cold pockets, prevented  
the icing over of ranges and thus provided predictable winter habitat for the  
food of Neanderthal. With the arrival of Cro- Magnon these large creatures 
begin  to decline. They had not done so when only Neanderthal occupied  Europe. 
Therefore, the most likely cause of Neanderthal’s  - slow – extinction, was 
the demise of his favorite megafaunal prey.  
Without migratory reindeer, and our ability to accurately predict the  timing 
of their migrations and kill in excess, we could not have persisted, let  
alone developed superlative athletic bodies and a culture that lasted some  
25,000 years.  
>From Neanderthal’s perspective, reindeer were a frustrating beast which  
appeared in herds then vanished. 
However – and this is new – there is another angle: reindeer were  not an 
appropriate food for Neanderthal! They were distinctly inferior as  food to 
mammoth, rhino and horses! This why: Neanderthal was a super-athlete, as  he had 
to be practicing the specialized type of hunting he did. For a human to  be a 
super athlete, especially one with so large a brain as Neanderthal  possessed, 
requires a very large supply of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s),  which are 
linnoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linnoleic acid (Omega-3).  Unfortunately, these 
highly reactive fatty acids are degraded in the rumen of  ruminants, so that 
the fat of ruminants (reindeer are ruminants) has relatively  less of the 
essential fatty acids. However, these fatty acids are quite abundant  in the fat 
of what we call mono-gastrics, that is, in herbivores that first  digest their 
food via a true stomach before it is fermented in the hind gut and  ceacum. 
Consequently, the soft fats of mammoth, rhino, horses, onagers, but also  of 
bears and wild pigs was far preferable to Neanderthal than the hard and  
nutritionally inferior fats of reindeer and bison. This means that Neanderthal,  as a 
specialized carnivore, to fulfill its physiological needs, must have chosen  
to hunt creatures other than reindeer, and had no particular reason to hunt  
reindeer, except as an occasional change in diet.  
Cro-Magnon, the descendant of coastal people had acquaintance with fish  
diets. Fatty fish have a large abundance of Essential Fatty Acids, especially  the 
rare Omega-3 variety. Cro-Magnon, early on, catches migratory salmon, whose  
appearance in rivers can also be predicted by the use of a calendar. 
Therefore,  any nutritional deficit in reindeer fat could be readily made up by eating 
some  dried and smoked salmon. Also, all reindeer hunters eat the rumen 
content of  reindeer, a potential source of some EFA’s. There is no evidence that  
Neanderthal caught salmon, but there is such for Upper Paleolithic people in  
Europe. There is no evidence that the content of true  stomachs has ever been 
eaten by hunters.  Neanderthal was thus vulnerable as his  athletic physiology 
required large supplies of volatile fatty acids which he  historically, as a 
carnivore in food habits, readily obtained from the fat of  the monogastric 
megafauna. That’s what allowed him to thrive during the many  months of winter 
when no greenery was in sight. 
Neanderthal hearths, in the absence of Cro-magnids, are about  1/5th as 
frequent as those of the Upper Paleolithic. With  Cro-magnids, greatly 
out-numbering Neanderthal and thriving on reindeer and  salmon – and – hunting the 
megafauna for sport, there would an effect on  megafauna abundance, reducing this 
the staff of live for Neanderthal. And there  was no ready way to counter-adapt, 
as reindeer were inferior food to  Neanderthal, as Neanderthal had no 
calendar, and fishing for salmon was  apparently not in. Cro-magnids, which were not 
war-like and whose recovered  skeletons show no evidence of homicide, were 
much too smart to confront the  athletically much superior Neanderthal.  
Hybridization was out as the physically highly demanding way of hunting  by 
Neanderthal could not be practiced by hybrids. Hybrid disadvantage kept the  
gene pools apart. 

Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Visiting Scholar-Graduate  Psychology Department, New York University; Core 
Faculty Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; 
executive editor -- New  Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology  Project, see: 
for two chapters from 
The Lucifer  Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, 
see  www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of  Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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