The Invaders (Hardback)Pat Shipman (author)
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With their large brains, sturdy physique, sophisticated tools, and hunting skills, Neanderthals are the closest known relatives to humans. Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe--descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo. But when modern humans eventually made their way to Europe 45,000 years ago, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Ever since the first Neanderthal bones were identified in 1856, scientists have been vexed by the question, why did modern humans survive while their evolutionary cousins went extinct?
The Invaders musters compelling evidence to show that the major factor in the Neanderthals' demise was direct competition with newly arriving humans. Drawing on insights from the field of invasion biology, which predicts that the species ecologically closest to the invasive predator will face the greatest competition, Pat Shipman traces the devastating impact of a growing human population: reduction of Neanderthals' geographic range, isolation into small groups, and loss of genetic diversity.
But modern humans were not the only invaders who competed with Neanderthals for big game. Shipman reveals fascinating confirmation of humans' partnership with the first domesticated wolf-dogs soon after Neanderthals first began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, she hypothesizes, made possible an unprecedented degree of success in hunting large Ice Age mammals--a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for humans over Neanderthals at a time when climate change made both groups vulnerable.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 279
Weight: 431 g
Dimensions: 216 x 147 x 28 mm
Are humans the ultimate invasive species? So contends anthropologist Pat Shipman--and Neanderthals, she opines, were among our first victims. The relationship between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis is laid out cleanly, along with genetic and other evidence. Shipman posits provocatively that the deciding factor in the triumph of our ancestors was the domestication of wolves. Perhaps more troubling is the concept of early humans as invaders, rather than just another species finding its way.--Daniel Cressey"Nature" (04/02/2015)
Since the discovery in the 19th century of Neanderthal remains, the cause of their extinction has arguably been the most compelling mystery in human evolution... The Invaders offers us the appealing prospect of an expert writing on her specialism and clearly having a great deal of fun doing so. Shipman builds an extremely compelling case for the role of Homo sapiens as an invasive species who arrived in Europe about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago and had an immediate impact on their new ecosystem. The Neanderthals were not the only victims... What makes Shipman's argument really stand out and offer a fresh perspective on the extinction of Neanderthals is the role that she gives to wolves in the process that led to the dominance of Homo sapiens.--Simon Underdown"Times Higher Education" (04/23/2015)