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July 19, 2007

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On Ancient Hunters

The fellow hunter I would most like to meet is one that vanished from the earth about 28,000 years ago, for reasons we do not yet understand, after surviving more than 100,000 years of cold that few people on this planet can imagine. A typical man of his species stood about 5 feet 5 inches tall, and in good health would weigh between 185 and 210 pounds. He would be, according to a paleontologist with whom I once spoke, three times as strong as a modern man in excellent shape. "He could take any player in the NFL and throw him over the goalpost."

042_22theneanderthalpostersYet for all this strength, this ancient hunter would be an old man at 30, and apparently none of his race lived to see 40. He spent every day of his life in mortal danger, and would almost certainly be badly hurt at least once. If he survived animal and human violence, he would starve, or freeze, or simply wear out.

His brain was bigger than ours, but possibly organized in a different fashion. He probably had language, but we're not entirely sure about that. His hunting weapon was the spear, and it probably required that he close with whatever he was trying to kill. He did not look much like we do. His forehead was low, jaw massive, and nose large and protruding. He was not our ancestor, but our cousin. We killed him, either by accident or design or both, hounding him off the end of Europe and into extinction.

He is, of course, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and if I should happen to meet him in the next world I would extend him my hand as a fellow hunter. Except he would crush it.


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BTW You say you respect Neandertals and then use comic book crap for an illustration. These 2 Jay Matternes images are closer to the truth.


We were recently discussing the changes in hunting from just the last 25 years up to now on a post in www.huntersonly.com , and it was amazing what has changed in that little time. Imagine the changes from Neanderthals to now, WOW !! You are right, they were true HUNTERS !!


So easy a caveman could do it??? Haha, or in the sense of hunting, "So easy a therapist can do it"!! Har har.

A 21st Century Dickens

Gentle persons,

Reading and considering many of the responses to Mr. Petzal's blog leads me to propagate the following hypotheses:

1. That Neanderthals did survive, althuogh in a much degraded species that seems compelled to respond insensibly if not unintelligibly to blogs, Mr. Petzal's in particular.

2. In alternative, they were driven to mass suicide by being exposed to the same kind of human blather as are those daring to search for reasoned commentary among these "Comment" pages.

3. On the same principle that silence is golden, most of the gems to be found in these blog comments are invisible -- and the rest should be more so.

4. That most of the comments indicate the posters' interest in paleontology is limited to coprolites.

Mr. Petzal, I admire your writing and your courage in submitting yourself to these petty coprophiles.

Most sincerely,



Mr. Dickens: Amen, brother. I'm lately finding it much tougher to justify spending my time reading these responses. This blog needs an editor. The "Great Crossbow Debate" is a perfect example. However, every once in a while I learn something, so I keep reading.

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