Neanderthal … or otherwise?

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Neanderthal and marineIn yesterday’s Swedish Metro, a correspondent bewails the killing of Osama bin Ladin and describes it as the action of Neanderthals rather than civilised human beings.

Not seeking either to condemn or condone the actions of the US forces, I do protest the implication that Neanderthals were significantly different from us.

What little we know of the Neanderthals suggests otherwise.

Just as we do, they cared for one another. We know that some families of Neanderthals supported individuals who had been so badly injured they would not have been able to walk or hunt for weeks. How else to explain the healed breaks in major bones that some Neanderthal skeletons have?

Just as we do, Neanderthals mourned the passing of their dead relatives, burying them with flowers and jewelery.

Just as we do, Neanderthals were capable of working together for a common cause, even if (so far as we know) it involved hunting animals for meat rather than terrorising other tribes to make them accept a certain system of belief.

It is true the Neanderthals seem occasionally to have practiced cannibalism, but even that is not beyond modern man in desperate need or from perverted desire.

Who knows what the Neanderthals might have done with a bin Ladin 20,000 years ago? Perhaps they might have buried him in sand to his knees and then stoned him to death with a shower of rocks. That kind of barbarism was certainly within their technical competence.

One thing we can be absolutely certain of, though: they would not have shot him into mincemeat with guns and bullets. So far as we know, of all the creatures that have ever lived, it is only civilised modern man who has developed such technology.

So, don’t call the killing of Osama bin Ladin Neanderthal — Call it Human.

Illustrations are taken from pictures in Wikimedia Commons.
The picture of the reconstruction of a Neanderthal man is cropped from this image:
The picture of the US Marine is cropped from this image:

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2 thoughts on “Neanderthal … or otherwise?”

  1. I’m a Neanderthal man
    You’re a Neanderthal girl
    Let’s make Neanderthal love
    In this Neanderthal world

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