For many years many people within our society have had very misleading and very unfair views and opinions of our prehistoric ancestors. This has meant that both our ancestors and their importance have been taken for granted for many years. The worst and most frustrating is that our ancestors were shambling brutish creatures, especially in it’s application to Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis (or the Neanderthals if you will). This perception could not have been farther from the truth, as not only did our Neanderthal cousins walk upright but they were also quite intelligent. A fact many of you may not be aware of is that a Neanderthal’s brain was almost twice the size of our own measuring 1300cc as opposed to our 700cc. Another fact that discredits this view of Neanderthals is a little known one, and is that the first ever Neanderthal skeleton found was the skeleton of a fifty year old male who suffered from crippling arthritis causing him to spend most of his final days hunched over. This is how such views came about and somehow seemed to have stuck around for no reason. This simple fact also discredits the view that our prehistoric ancestors only cared for themselves and no one else. As someone suffering from Crippling arthritis could not have survived in such a harsh environment without help from his family members.
Many of the things we attribute to the Renaissance period has actually been around since prehistoric times as well. Perspective drawing is something that our prehistoric ancestors experimented with in their cave paintings. They even had a basic understanding of medicine and surgery. Yes that’s right I said surgery! An even more mind-blowing fact is that they even practised a crude form of brain surgery known as trepanning. This was an act where by one person would use a sharp rock to drill a hole in the skull of another person to relieve the pressure and pain caused by brain tumours. It may sound painful (and it may have been, even for our tougher ancestors) but it was a process that worked quite well and that many also survived. This is backed up by the fact that Archaeologists have found homonid skulls that show evidence of healing after having a trepanning operation performed on them. It was such a successful technique that our ancient ancestors continued to use it right up until the fall of the Roman empire when it was lost in time.
Many people also cling to the absurd belief that our ancestors have nothing to do with our modern life. This could not be further from the truth as everything they were still exists in us today. One example of this is our need to know everything about the people in our lives; whether they be family, neighbours, partners, friends or celebrities. We have an instinctual drive to know everything about them that many try to deny. I think that this was largely an instinct meant to help us protect ourselves from problems that arose. But it stems from the fact that our prehistoric ancestors lived in small family groups where everyone knew everything about everyone else; because they lived and breathed in such close proximity to each other with none of the barriers we have today, that it was impossible not to know about your family. On occasion these family groups even gathered together for trade, festivals, and even partnering up with members of other tribes. In this way they learnt about their neighbours as well. This was essentially their whole world; their family and their neighbours. They knew everything about each other, who was violent, who was a threat, who was nice, who could be trusted. With the technologies available to us today our worlds have grown considerably and our instincts have not had the chance to catch up. We are still driven to learn everything about everyone who influences our lives, whether they are close to us (like family) or not (like our favourite celebrities). With today’s technology however there is far too much for us to learn in one lifetime, which can leave us depressed and unsatisfied.
Another, instinct we still share with our ancestors is the one that drives older men to seek out younger women. This arises from the fact that our ancestor males where driven to reproduce as often as possible to ensure their genetic material was passed on successfully. Back in prehistoric times they weren’t restricted by the rules we oppress ourselves with today either, so they usually had more than one female mate to reproduce with. Due to the complexity of the female reproductive system their system’s tend to fail before their male counterparts. This process usually begins at the age of 30 and ends at the age of 40. Though this is not the case for every woman it is a reality for most women. So at the age of 40 a male would find himself with a partner he could no longer reproduce with. The solution for our ancestors would be just to reproduce with their younger female mates while still being with their older female mate. For modern men however the solution isn’t as simple, because we oppress ourselves with so many constricting societal rules. Modern men therefore have only one of two options. The first of these options is to divorce/leave their current mate and find a younger mate to reproduce with; while the second is to ignore their instincts and remain with their current mate and be forever miserable as a result. Neither, of which is a very fair or appealing option for a man. So anyone who thinks that our prehistoric ancestors are of no consequence to our modern lives; read this and think on the matter a little harder. As there are many more instances where the behaviour of our ancestors still influences our lives. A narrow mind is no excuse for ignorance. Thank you for taking the time to read this!