Change One Event in Prehistorical Times

You can change an event in human prehistoric times. What will you change, and why?

Here is one I would like to see played out:
Cro-Magnon man takes a detour out of Africa and arrives in Europe, say, 10,000 years later. My thought is that the delayed competition would allow Neanderthal man to better adapt and thrive in post ice-age conditions, resulting in a population strong and stable enough to resist extinction from the eventual introduction of Homo sapiens.
Having two species of humans co-exist through to modern times is, in itself, a fun prospect, but let’s extrapolate further. I’m going to add the caveat: Neanderthal man and modern humans cannot crossbreed (their peckers are too big to fit into our women. Result: Lots of very aroused ladies and vain attempts, perhaps…but no kids. Conversely, Neanderthal ladies would simply laugh at my peers shortcomings***…again, no offspring). Would two separate, yet stable populations of humans eventually merge into a harmonious civilization? I think, yes – after a period of hostile adjustment. Would this civilization be superior to the one we have now? I think yes, based on the assumption that a little competition trims the fat. In the same sense that a two-party political system is better than one, a two-sentient species civilization could be advantageous.
Would a merged civilization be better for both parties concerned? Again, I think yes. As a whole, our civilization appears to be enlightened and finally willing to take steps toward racial/ethnic/cultural equality and we have arrived at this point in a relatively short time period (in the context of evolutionary timeframes). Given tens of thousands of years (since first contact), I believe enlightenment toward bi-species equality would have already occurred, and, as a bonus, this may have lead to a much earlier sensitivity toward racial discrimination. Of course, the differences between two races is essentially, merely skin deep; differences between two species would be more basic and profound. Discrimination would be unavoidable, but perhaps it would evolve into a mutually beneficial form of discrimination. Our relationship would be symbiotic. I think a symbiotic relationship between sentient beings could be not only harmonious, but rather enjoyable:

*Yeah, Bill may be a frontal-bossed oaf, but he’s my friend, and boy-o-boy, does he dig a good ditch!

Chad? Sure, he is indeed a panty-wipe brainiac, but he’s my buddy and he finds a boatload of deductions when he does my taxes. *

In other words, there would be a more distinct division of labor than what we see today, but because the division would reflect self-evident, unquestionable innate differences it should be readily accepted. All varieties (race, ethnicity etc.) of Homo sapiens would long ago have drifted toward brain-intensive occupations, while the Neanderthal branch would have drifted toward muscle-intensive endeavors. (I’m smarter, your stronger…let’s just deal with it). The enlightenment that I spoke of would manifest itself not as absolute equality (as is possible with regard to race), but rather in a sense of fair play and equitable compensation (I teach physics, Tom picks oranges, but we both draw the same salary and belong to the same country club).

Would I like to live in this society? Yes, I think I would. What about you?

Rose colored glasses?…yeah, maybe. Perhaps delayed contact would only delay the inevitable annihilation of one or both species. Lets hear your thoughts on the matter. And, I’m also interested (yawn) to hear your original “event changes”. No, really, I am! :wink:

Mr. Tibbs

***Not mine personally, you understand…I’m an exception to the rule. Hey!…stop laughing…

You’re scenerio makes for an interesting “what if”, but I don’t think we know enough about how the Neanderthal brain would have worked to say that they were “dumber” than us. Perhaps “differently gifted” would be more accurate.

…or at least more PC, yes? :o

Tibbycat, I think you’d be interested in the trilogy consisting of Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids (in that order) by Robert Sawyer. Not the same as what you propose, but it does involve interaction between humans and neanderthals in the modern day, and is IMHO quite good.

My change is that trilobites wouldn’t have died out. I don’t think it would make a very big difference, but it would be cool.

Well, we might go to seafood resturants and have to pick out a trilobite to eat. It’s not any more disturbing then eating lobster, if you think about it.

I realize that sounded like PC blather, but evidence points to them not being louts…

Although from studies done with stroke victims, it is evident that changes to the brain (or in this case a perhaps slightly different brain structure) can wildly effect an individual’s perception on “reality”.

I don’t want to hijack your thread any further, in fact I find your scenario to be a fascinating one… I just think it may have worked out slightly differently than you imagined. Although, they probably would have made great (American) football players.

Well, I’d have been happy if Eve had lectured the Serpent about how she didn’t want to have to worry about clothes, carbs & retirement plans and instead bounced the apple of its head.

Good cite, and point well taken:

I should not have insinuated that Neanderthal man was dumb. I can see where that may be seen as my assumption: *“…Bill may be a frontal-bossed oaf…” * My true feeling is that they were not dumb oafs (in the same vein as my not really thinking of modern man as being “…panty-wipe brainiacs…”). I went to the extreme simply to illustrate a comparison that in reality is probably much more subtle and relative.

I do, however, believe that they were less intellegent, or perhaps simply less creative, than modern man based solely on my (layman’s) interpretation of the findings thus far- mainly that their tools, weapons etc. appear to be more primative than ours at the time of first contact. I also conclude that they lagged behind modern man in the area of abstact cogitation due to their apparent non-use of symbolic art. I think that the evidence for Neanderthal man being stronger than us is more obvious and in no need for debate. (But hey, if it turns out that Neanderthal was both stronger *and * smarter than us, I call foul…although, since we did win the survival-of-the-fittest game, it makes for a good underdog story). But, I digress. In short, I believe that we have the advantage of more complex thinking, they have the advantage of more powerful musculature, and, although the differences may be subtle, subtle differences over large periods of time often result in great differentiation. I look to the lots in life inherited by various races as an example of small differences leading to large differentiation. I think that we can agree that throughout history, many subsets (race, culture, religion etc.) of humans have been thought best suited for, and encouraged (or forced) to persue certain avocations based soley on perceived differences in strength and intellegence. (note: I say *“perceived”. * I personally do not believe that these differences exist). Many years of pigeon-holing due to merely perceived differences have lead to great differentiation. If “perceived” start-game differences can lead to relative differentiation, I maintain that real (even if subtle) start-game differences would lead to an absolute division of labor.

Again, good point, and one that I have considered. I conclude that it is impossible to predict precisely and in absolute terms how Neanderthal man would today perceive the world. Therefore, the way that he and we ultimately interact may be entirely unknowable, and on a completely different track than the one that I hypothesize. For the sake of carrying on an enjoyable thought game (as opposed to hard science), I’m willing to throw that red herring out, and say that Neanderthal man and modern man share similar perceptions of reality. I don’t believe that science will ever be able to illuminate our understanding of something so essoteric as an extinct creatures perception of reality (too many unknown variables), but it’s still fun to speculate.

Sorry, I didn’t really mean to imply that you were spewing PC blather…well, maybe I did, but strictly tongue-in-cheek :rolleyes: . I mean, if ya gotta worry about offending someone who’s been extinct for 40,000 years…

Neanderthal man = great American football player
American football player = Americans
Neanderthal man = dumb oaf; American = dumb oaf
Alright, what country are you from, buddy? Wait till Bush hears about this…as soon as we get done with Iraq, we’re comin’ after you… :wink:

Mr. Tibbs

One change would have been to give new world natives resistance to european diseases. Sure would make things more interesting for the colonists when the native population isn’t convienantly killed off by smallpox. “Hey Whitey, those blankets you gave us last winter are great! Got any more?”

I would prefer not having the dinosaurs died out as a result of the comet collision.

For some interesting reading on modern man living among neanderthals check out the “Earths Children” books by Jean Auel. She does a lot of research into what pre-historic life was like. I really think she nails it with the religious aspects to their lives as well as day to day survival and living. Plus, there’s lots of sex. Humans having sex. Neanderthals having sex. Humans and neanderthals having sex. You name it. :wink:

Her books have quite the following and it’s my understanding that there’s lots of fan fiction and mesg boards out there talking about this type of stuff.

IMHO, if you had two species of man living at the same time, one would end up being enslaved by the other. Once we figured out the technology that enabled advanced tools and farming and they still couldn’t do it, we’d own/trade/kill/sell them just like cattle. Heck, people were doing this to other people for nearly all of human history on a massive scale. It would be even more prevalent if there were different species.

I recently heard that all of human life outside of Africa is the result of a single tribe of several hundred that migrated out from there towards India and China along the coast. If you wanted to have the greatest impact, you could mess with them. Stop them, slow them down, help them, whatever. It would change everything if literally all of us (except Africa) were different people. Every person in history would not have existed.

Psst…meteorite…also known as “asteroid impact” (the difference is that many asteroids do not impact earth, and only become meteorites if they do).

It wasn’t a comet. Sorry to pick a nit.


Mmmmmm… Dino-burgers…

It would be interesting to see what would have happened if the last ice age had simply not happened. It would take more time than I have simply to think of all the possible differences. Like the rise of mammals not occurring, and the continued evolution of reptiles.

I also find it fun to try and think of how different things would be if the climate had changed in other ways previous to man’s arrival in the world. For instance, if the ice caps melted, and large land masses went away, forcing previous land animals into a more amphibious mode, and forcing all birds be more like the albatross.

Well, if this is acceptable w/ the rules, I’d make our hair a leafy photosynthesizing material instead of what it is. That way, we’d have to eat less food and could go longer w/o sustinance.

Not much of a threat.

If I could change something, it’d be reforming all major land masses to be well connected and more easily traveled. Along the lines of giving the New World resistance to disease, it would be very interesting to see how the world would have developed if there hadn’t been a sudden insurgence of European dominance into geographically separated cultures starting a few hundred years ago.

Based on the link you provided, it seems that a comet impact would also be supported by the evidence, although my understanding is that we don’t really know enough about the composition of comets to know if they are just asteroid material held together with ice, or something else.