In this issue . . .
Q: Who were cavemen?
A: At its most basic, the term caveman simply means “a person who dwells in a cave,” which isn’t unheard of even today. But that’s rarely what we mean when we use the word. Instead, we’re usually talking about a group of ancient cave hoppers who left behind animal artwork, rough-hewn weapons, and bones—at least, that’s the common assumption. While the collective opinion of history and science has moved beyond considering these early humans as animal-like brutes, the term still carries with it the baggage of a being somewhat lesser than modern Homo sapiens (us today). And that’s unfortunate—as we’ll see.
Those early humans commonly classified as “cavemen” break down into several groups, scattered throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Calling these groups “cavemen” may, in fact, be somewhat misleading. Many of them simply found temporary shelter or buried their dead in caves, which tend to preserve remains and artifacts more often than houses in the open. (They probably preferred living in caves about as much as we do.)
Nevertheless, the term caveman is often used as a catchall for peoples who lived in an earlier era in human history—the Ice Age.
Continue reading to learn about five of these groups: Neanderthals, early Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon man), Homo erectus, Denisovans, and Homo floresiensis.
News to Note Quick Look
Feathered fossil: Microraptor melanosomes arrayed in fossilized feathers are comparable to those in iridescent black feathers of modern birds. Such is the verdict of a Chinese-American team after examining a fossilized “four-winged” Microraptor from Cretaceous rock in China’s Liaoning Province. Read more.
Racism confused: Teachers at some South African schools are reportedly resistant to teaching evolution. Responding to the report, Dr. Jurie van den Heever, an evolutionary paleontologist and outspoken anti-creationist, told Cape Town’s News24, “If you are against evolution, you are pro-apartheid.” Read more.
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