Currently, there is only one species in the genus Homo; however, at different times there were more than one. Homo sapiens (our team!) co-existed for a while with the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Apparently some members of our species millenia ago may have mated with these other humans; about 2% - 4% of us have Neanderthal genes. This percentage may be higher in some states and in the case of the defensive line of the Dallas Cowboys.
However, in much of our popular culture, the dwellers of caves are depicted as brutal, insensitive boobs. Whether these are sapiens or neanderthals is not differentiated. Or, their image is deliberately brutalized to distance them from us: they tend to be depicted as coarse, hairy brutes. It doesn't take too imagination, plus viewing of The Flintstones or Cavemen to conclude that they got a bad press: much like how the NY Times tends to depict conservatives.
Specifically, caveperson courtship is commonly rendered in cartoons as involving a hairy, animal-skinned, club-carrying lout dragging a woman off somewhere for mating purposes. Essentially, this is an odious rape fantasy; the idea of chasing a woman with a club and raping her while she was unconscious is sick and shameful. Where did this idea come from? While I'm sure that rape did occasionally occur in prehistoric days, it seems to be jumping to conclusions that this was the normal state of affairs. In fact, prehistoric humans typically lived in small clans of less than a hundred members; and everyone came to know each other quite well. Each member of the clan had to get along with others; their survival depended on it. Simply put, there is no physical evidence as to how prehistoric humans paired off at all, much less that it was violent.
We cannot draw too much evidence from our closest primate natives: Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) tend to be brutal in their sex lives, while bonobos (Pan paniculus) are peace-loving and inclined to make love, not war.
There is some evidence that prehistoric humans of different species had some appreciation for adornment, art, religion, and other aspects of culture. It would be too rash to surmise that they would be insensitive to each other's feelings as well. It's likely that prehistoric courtship might have including the bestowing of token gifts, mutual grooming, and other primate-like rituals. Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller hypothesized that paleolithic courtship might have involved singing and music-making, among other things.
Maybe this is a clue to why very attractive women seem to be attracted to exceedingly homely rockers. It's in our genes!
But, let us consider a more pleasing scenario: Paleolithic guy makes an effort to be charming and woo paleolithic woman, perhaps with flowers and singing. Although, on the second date, perhaps a nice dinner would do too. Maybe that is what really took place; even in those pairings between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. At least, that's what I would like to think!
Hawaii Photo of the Day
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