Researchers from Washington U in St. Louis have discovered skeletal remains in Roumania that exhibit characteristics of both early Homo Sapiens and Homo Neandertalensis.[Link] (A place notably less dangerous than their home campus, as we commented yesterday.) This has added new fuel to the question of what happen to Neandertalensis: did Sapiens do them in, out perform them, or just interbreed them away? Skeletal remains with joint characteristics give some added weight to the latter theory.
Which in turn gives added weight to the first theory since we have considerable evidence that much violence starts in the home.
One has to suspect that the actual events may have been a combination of the three, plus other social odds and sods that we have no comprehension nor vision of being so far removed from the hunter-gatherer life style. Such multicomponent theories are not popular for several reasons: they are difficult to demonstrate, at least partly due to the lack of quantifiable data and maths skills among biologists and archaeologists; they dilute the glory and hence academic advancement; and finally, and perhaps most critically, they tend to violate Occam’s Razor.
Witness the extinction theory advanced by Princeton U paleontologists recently.[Link]
We may note however, that any interbreeding between Neandertalensis and Sapiens must have had a voluntary component. This is not to say that there may not have been some degree of social coercion, but the nature of the hunter-gatherer band tends to rule out any involuntarily unacceptable interbreeding. (See MOW for details on why this is the case.)