Animal’s Daily Early Warfare News

Let’s set politics aside for a moment and look at another side of human conflict – warfare.  It seems our species and the Neandertals, our cousin species, may not have always gotten along.  Excerpt:

It’s exceedingly unlikely that modern humans met the Neanderthals and decided to just live and let live. If nothing else, population growth inevitably forces humans to acquire more land, to ensure sufficient territory to hunt and forage food for their children. But an aggressive military strategy is also good evolutionary strategy.

Instead, for thousands of years, we must have tested their fighters, and for thousands of years, we kept losing. In weapons, tactics, strategy, we were fairly evenly matched.

Neanderthals probably had tactical and strategic advantages. They’d occupied the Middle East for millennia, doubtless gaining intimate knowledge of the terrain, the seasons, how to live off the native plants and animals. In battle, their massive, muscular builds must have made them devastating fighters in close-quarters combat. Their huge eyes likely gave Neanderthals superior low-light vision, letting them manoeuvre in the dark for ambushes and dawn raids.

Finally, the stalemate broke, and the tide shifted. We don’t know why. It’s possible the invention of superior ranged weapons – bows, spear-throwers, throwing clubs – let lightly-built Homo sapiens harass the stocky Neanderthals from a distance using hit-and-run tactics. Or perhaps better hunting and gathering techniques let sapiens feed bigger tribes, creating numerical superiority in battle.

We know that there were some friendly relations between H. sapiens and Neandertals, as today’s humans of European and Asian descent have some Neandertal DNA, while many Asian populations have genetic markers from the mysterious Denisovans.

But it’s interesting.  Human history has long been a history of conflict.  That extends back to the time when there was more than one human species running around, at least in the forests of Ice Age Europe and the Middle East.  Now, today, as contentious as this year’s election cycle has been, at least humans aren’t running around clubbing each other over the heads…