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Hominin technological innovations as the outcome of differentiated population mergers: robust Hominins and their introgression into gracile populations through male intrasexual and female intersexual selection

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Abstract

This piece targets two major periods of notable hominin technological development, the Lower Paleolithic to Middle Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic, both fast paced technological transitions for which there is evidence for the two at the continental crossroads of The Levant. This might be no coincidence because of the Levant being a geographical hominin expansion route bottleneck and therefore a locale for genomically and technologically differentiated populations to meet and mingle. The aim here is to provide substantive argumentation that technological accelerated sophistication has occurred when different technocomplexes from genomically differentiated populations have merged and how that has resulted in feedback evolutionary changes in the Hominin Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA)1 through memetic positive selection of amalgamated technologically extended phenotypes. These bestowed improved fitness and prompted further evolutionary and technological development.
Hominin technological innovations as the outcome of differentiated population mergers:
Robust Hominins and their introgression into gracile populations through male intrasexual
and female intersexual selection
This piece targets two major periods of notable hominin technological development, the Lower
Paleolithic to Middle Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic, both fast paced
technological transitions for which there is evidence for the two at the continental crossroads of
The Levant. This might be no coincidence because of the Levant being a geographical hominin
expansion route bottleneck and therefore a locale for genomically and technologically
differentiated populations to meet and mingle. The aim here is to provide substantive
argumentation that technological accelerated sophistication has occurred when different
technocomplexes from genomically differentiated populations have merged and how that has
resulted in feedback evolutionary changes in the Hominin Environment of Evolutionary
Adaptedness (EEA)1 through memetic positive selection of amalgamated technologically extended
phenotypes which bestowed improved fitness and prompted further evolutionary and technological
development.
Niche construction2 is the result of an organism when as a species it modifies its own selective
environment or that of other species to the point that through feedback it affects evolutionary
selection pressures of its community, even its own species, causing it to adapt further. The EEA is
the ancestral environment to which a species is adapted to and the whole suite of selection
pressures that gave rise to those adaptations. Technology on planet Earth cannot exist without the
biology that made it and is part and parcel of the Homo genus, evident in the archaeological
remains extracted as evidence of their existence even in the absence of fossils. If niche
construction effected by sequential species of Hominins is understood as how the environment has
been modified by technocomplex evolution, which then precipitates further technological
evolution, the technologically permeated EEA has had leverage bearing on its own accelerated
genomic evolution. An extended phenotype3 is the sum of all the effects of the genes of an
organism, transcending protein synthesis and tissue development. A technologically extended
phenotype has niche constructed the EEA of bipedal Hominins species and a distinguishing
signature of this is the stratigraphically archaeological findings of tools in increasing levels of
sophistication relative to changing trophic behaviour4 associated with obligately bipedal hominins
since they evolved the adaptation to walk, until the present. Hominin morphology evolved
throughout the Paleolithic, in effect carving out the EEA with its own technologically extended
phenotype, from having a brain case the same size of a chimpanzee’s5 that still had adaptations
for climbing, to modern like proportions of relatively longer legs with shorter arms in keeping with
the size of the torso whilst supporting from below a larger braincase along with its brain. Those
with better technology always had the upper hand as this enabled an augmented evolutionary
fitness for those best equipped to create it, obtaining in its use more resources to feed individual
phenotypes as they ontogenetically blossomed. This, coupled with competitive male intrasexual
selection and female intersexual selection for those traits, has evolved to the ubiquitously
androcentric Homo sapiens which has only just in the past century began to adopt intellectually
objective intersexual sociality.7 This totally innovative never before practiced humane primate
sociality bases itself on equality of opportunity of either sex and the end of intersexual slavery in
general, bringing down the standard obligate androcentrism from its narcissistic pedestal along
with male dominant structured gregariousness that is characteristic of our species.7
The transitional registering that elucidates on marked changes in hominin archeological finds and
their associated ascertainable biological traits are mentally visualized by their temporal order
within stratigraphy that links two otherwise disparate types of phylogenetic developments and
informationally extractable corresponding modes of behaviour.8 Although uninterrupted
stratigraphy of transitional technological industries are uncommon, these should present a set of
features that are intermediate along a technological continuum reflecting the stages in behavioral
modifications.8 The Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition of the Acheulo-Yabrudian has been far
less studied in detail than the transition of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic and is dated as having
occurred over a brief period of time happening in approximately 30 ka to 80 ka in duration9 and
composed of variability in form in different finds which are ascribable within the same touchstone
but these are not associated with climatic change.10 This lack in careful consideration mirrors that
this overall development of the lower Paleolithic is erroneously seen as having happened bit by bit
without dispersals from the Eurasian and African localities it is registered at as having been
practiced in and is also associated with an equally slow rate of biological evolution.10 In this light,
cultural transformations in the Paleolithic regarded as important are only linked to the evolution
or spreading of H sapiens, with past behaviour being relegated to the categories of less evolved
and any technological breakthrough as unremarkable. Despite these wrong assumptions, a
substantial amount of change in hominin behavioural evolution happened prior to the Middle to
Upper Paleolithic transition.10 Levallois technology found amidst Acheulean finds are thought of
as intrusive yet are part and parcel of most of the later Acheulo-Yabrudian paraphernalia
assemblages to some extent.10 This short period also sees an increased intensity of fire making and
the transporting of disarticulated items from hunted fauna for food distribution to permanent
shelters such as caves or year round springs, forerunners of later Mousterian or Upper Paleolithic
behaviour.10 How the fauna was hunted by focusing on animals at their prime age is also
characteristic of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens so might have deep commonly inherited
evolutionary roots.
Herbivores have tended to evolve to an ontogenetic large size as an evolutionary adaptation for
defense from predators which convergently is one of the reasons that leads to big animal
morphology in the EEA. Without enough predation of terrestrial megaherbivours (≥1000 Kg)
these will reach a soaring population biomass that greatly influence the EEA by changing the
vegetation they readily feed on or physically alter by their day to day activities, thus affecting
ecological communities and any trophic interaction these plants might have with other organisms.11
Megaherbivores trophically effect a top down regulation on vegetation growth and potential
numbers are controlled by the amount of vegetation there is to feed them from the bottom up..
From Around 1Ma ago the first signs of abnormal hominin predatorily directly affected
megafaunal population declines are discernible with the documented loss of African proboscidean
diversity and indirectly a considerable number of carnivore species.11 In Africa and Eurasia these
losses are associated with the evolving of H erectus into a worthy predator in its own right as meat
demand increased in its diet. Compared to later hominin megafaunal extinction scenarios however,
this was minor and gradual, thought to have come about in such a way because coevolution
between hominins and their prey had time to take place.11 Large game hunting strategies, having
originally evolved from the Lower Paleolithic, seem to have been adaptations to changing hunting
schemes, implicating a specialized predation of the straight tusked elephant Elephas antiquus as a
means to obtaining an obligatory dependent fat diet to feed the now smaller gut to larger brain
ratio of H erectus.12 This led to a reductions in elephant prey numbers resulting in having to catch
a larger amount of smaller and faster prey to satiate an innate hunger for fats and refuel with
calories.12 To be reproductively successful in the niche constructed environment of the
evolutionary adaptiveness new hominin adaptations evolved in the hunting of this other type of
prey. It is suggested that when compared to the preceding H erectus, this led to the evolving around
the Afro/Eurasian crossroads of the Levant, a more enabled type of hominin better suited to the
new predatory circumstances, having a lighter body, an increased lower limb to weight ratio, an
upgraded levels of savviness, adroitness and coordination which led to novel socially cohesive
structural organization.12 This biological upgrading occurred concurrently to the innovative local
Levantine Acheulo-Yabrudian technocomplex, with hominins fossils related to the latter of
transitional forms sharing the characteristics of both anatomically modern humans and
Neanderthals.12 This prompts the question of whether this morphologically generalized population
was a consequence of interbreeding between differentiated populations and the resultant more
advanced technocomplex was due to technological mergers? Very broadly speaking, the relatively
gracile African H ergaster and its more robust Asian form H erectus sensu stricto and all robust
derivatives, could have interbred at The Levant after differentiating from a common ancestor a
long time before, time enough to develop technological differences which complemented each
other if jointly utilized, evolving to the Levantine Acheulo-Yabrudian complex. Very close to
intercontinental hub of The Levant, in Dmanisi in Georgia, the oldest hominin fossils found outside
Africa, the 1.85-1.75 Ma Dmanisi Skulls, asides from perhaps shedding light on the large variation
in morphology within early Homo populations13 had traits intermediate between H ergaster and H
erectus but smaller with a similar cranial capacity of the more archaic H habilis. A prominent
attribute of the Middle Paleolithic is the technological heterogeneity in geographical and temporal
distribution, even though the hominins that created it were constrained in amount of options
possible within a general distinctiveness.14 The Lower to Middle Paleolithic transitory period of
the Acheulo-Yabrudian first appears in the Levant 400ka to 350 ka ago and after a short while is
also found in Anatolia and south central Europe. This techno-complex is so distinct that is seems
improbable to have independently arisen without cultural transmission in different locations with
technologies derived from the Acheulo-Yabrudian, appearing to have spread from east to west.14
If very broadly speaking and following the route of technological dispersal, asian H. Erectus sensu
stricto, the more robust form of H erectus sensu lato, H ergaster, is ancestral to all future robust
hominins and might have colonized Africa and Europe later on as they expanded, is this evident
in lineage branches that created the Acheulo-Yabrudian complex that spread from east to west and
would that mean that, again, very broadly speaking and temporally stretched, H sapiens is the
robust descendent form of the more gracile H ergaster? Is robustness in Homo an adaptation driven
by cohesive gregariousness due to male intrasexual competition within intersexual selection,
therefore is H ergaster is a robust form of H habilis which drove to the West to East expansion of
habilis/ergaster into Eurasia (Reference on Dmannis fossils) which then evolved into H erectus
sensu stricto? Then from that latter period, expanding from east to west back to Europe and Africa
and evolving into H heidelbergensis, did that return expansion reach into Africa, introgressing into
H ergaster descendants, creating archaic Homo sapiens after repeated admixture with archaic
humans along the way there and back? When anatomically modern humans expanded back into
Eurasia, they were introgressed in from a lower population gradient by then evolved Neanderthals
who themselves are robust descendants of the African/Eurasian heidelbergensis family.
If sexual selection in Hominins selected for male tactics that increases their mating success but
imposes direct costs to the females, as in sexual dimorphism, then female preference for mates
results in biased mating because females only mate with males who have certain preferred traits
or a certain level of that trait.15 If that desired trait involves increased physical strength, namely
augmented robustness in gregariously philopatric males, this would give them the favorable
disposition to perform better at intrasexual competition, leading to improved fitness.15 Supremacy
in depredation adaptations would coevolve with females not being able to defensively resist forced
copulations by males who are on average 20% larger and more muscular, disproportionally more
muscular even when size differences are accounted for. Men being able to physically overcome
any resistance by women, intersexually will make them both coevolve divergent reproductive
optima in male selection for female traits and vice versa.15 Molecular genetic data of mDNA can
be used in combination with Y Chromosome analyses to obtain information on past human
populations and their ratios with regard of the amount of breeding men relative to the amount of
breeding women. The results from the relative analyses are compatible with the modern human
expansion of effective male population sizes and suggest that polygamy was the norm throughout
history.15 If polygamy has been the norm throughout history because it is inherent in hominins, no
matter if there has been a huge contrast or not in sexual dimorphism in any species, reproductively
successful philopatry in males might create a surplus of males for which there is no possibility of
reproducing. A small number of breeding men are all that are needed to maintain a viable
population and if these men are dominantly polygynous there will always be consequently a
significant number of men who will not be able to have a female partner to reproduce with. For
every male with a harem of 10 wives there are 9 men with no woman.15 Many of these
reproductively unsuccessful men would have been young risk takers with nothing to lose and quite
disposed to violence if the opportunity for gains presents itself. So if our ancestors were
polygynous, such as genetic studies suggest, there would have been an ample amount of single
men competitively eager for women to reproduce with, plus the resources these women’s dominant
polygynous men monopolized, with greater incentive to overcome the risk to try and appropriate
those resources.15 Coalitions of men facing too much intrasexual competition in their natal
localities might have been driven to expand into new territories. If they could by natural selection
overcome any male intrasexual competition in foreign lands they would monopolize access to the
women as a reproductive resource. This would have been a form of fitness hypergamy where the
economy is the trophic sustenance and material resource potential of the land on which the females
have been usurped. Being a more robust male variety of hominin expanding in the territory of a
more gracile type quite easily would be an advantage in gaining supremacy. Even though a more
gracile hominin might have greater sophistication in technocomplex and fighting technique,
robustness is a much greater advantage in individual to individual combat.16 Whwn a gracile male
population is replaced over a large territory of formerly gracile male dominated territory, the
subsequent population borne out of invasive polygamous robust males and gracile females would
become introgressed as the male genetic pool diluted in the larger extant population of surviving
females. This new population would itself be more robust and also subject to natural selection as
male intrasexual competition continued in the context of the new genetic pool where robustness
though diluted would be positively selected for.
It is hypothesized that the Middle Paleolithic hominin populations were low in group number and
that their prevalence was spread out, in contrast to the more numerous populations of the Upper
Paleolithic and even closer in time to recent hunter gatherers. More evidence for small population
numbers and spread comes from genetics and ecology.14 Asides from acquiring foods from many
sources, hominins at the time specialized in obtaining high trophic foods in the form of large game
animals.14 Bottom up trophic level sustenance can only sustain an amount of mega herbivores that
is lower in itself in biomass. This in turn, relative to hominins who specialize in their predation
that individually need high energy from their food, constrains their numerical acquisition of
megaherbivores within the total biomass in only allowing for the sustaining of a small population
of hunters.14 So what led to population increases during the Upper Paleolithic and the subsequent
demise of so much megafauna outside of Africa, with notable extreme cases of human related
extinction events in the Americas and Australia? Having successfully expanded into many
different habitats and evolved technology variability within the same domain could technocomplex
mergers have triggered innovation, mirroring the Acheulo-Yabrudian? If it did, did this happen
at an unprecedented rate because diverse technological variations through the Middle Paleolithic
had developed to a threshold point? When merged this could have accelerated its own evolution
in a positive feedback loop, as more technocomplex variability became accessible as technology
enables further distance travelled, which in geological time scales has sped by its own volition to
the present. Hafted spears from the Middle Paleolithic plus Levallois or other Mousterian
technology, are known from that time.17 Hominins from either the Middle Paleolithic and Upper
Paleolithic hunted, and there are regional differences between South Africa, the Levant, and
Western Europe in the choice of prey, as well as the practical methods used to hunt.17 If the spread
and diversification of Hominins from Africa outwards and possibly back is seen through a filter of
multi-regional evolutionary development, was there continual interbreeding between
geographically isolated, therefore genetically and technologically differentiated populations
ranging in overlapping regions and interjected by territorial expansions? If these merged, they
might have, asides from genetically mixing, combined technological behaviour so as to by
memetic selection produce technology more acutely honed in to their lives and, because this
enabled greater fitness to individuals in groups, exponentially propagated itself. We know that a
technological industry similar to the Mousterian was widely distributed in Africa,
contemporaneous with the Eurasian Neanderthals using it. Maybe the Upper Paleolithic
technological explosion is a result of interbreeding between the latter to form novel genetically
homogenous populations with surviving merged techno complexes from either. It is possible to
ascertain from verifiably Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in modern human populations, that
introgression into modern humans occurred, and also from African hominins that are only known
as genetic ghosts in populations. Could the technological shift from the Lower to the Middle
Paleolithic be a sign that it has happened more than once, that differentiated groups when they
merged in the past tended to produce improved technology in general? Because there is very often
more than one single way of producing the same thing there could have been a memetic selection
process that fine-tuned technology or came up with original improvements to it? H erectus had
spread widely through Eurasia and Africa adapting to different environments and a greater number
of then extant individuals with the same technology had to find different ways to produce it in
different lithological settings as in the type of rock material used to make tools or other materials.17
Can the Howiesons Poort Culture and their advanced Upper Paleolithic type technology, created
25 ka before the Upper Paleolithic happened, be explained by cultural mergers? Its known that
there was an archaic hominin species that lived in Sub Saharan Africa until very recently whose
genetic signature has been ascertained in the genomes of modern Africans. The last appearance
of many large mammals in Africa dates from around 63000 years ago to the middle Holocene18
which coincides with the Howiesons Poort culture.
Levallois technology in itself is a major breakthrough in technological evolution that defines the
demarcation of the Lower to Middle Paleolithic threshold.18. Due to 300 ka years lack of innovation
that forego it, it is testament to more than the advanced lithic remains that are to be found from the
Middle Paleolithic as it represents substantial modifications in cultural behaviour with structural
ramifications into the social and cognitive aspects of hominins at that time19. Multiregionally
speaking, is Levallois technology also the result of technocomplex mergers due to hybridization
of behaviorally differentiated populations creating the Levallois technique itself which recycles
Archeulean bifacial axes in an unprecedented fashion? Levallois technology has a normally
associated authorship with the Middle Paleolithic and the Neanderthal Mousterian technological
industries where it attained its most profound heterogeneity and refinement.20 Nonetheless during
the Lower Paleolithic Levallois articles derived from recycled hand-axe cores typical of the
Acheulian were to a lesser degree also present in Africa. Verification that intentional recycling of
hand axes actually happened can be obtained because flake removal is conspicuously of a larger
size than the other visual signs of flake removal which are as a finished product normally
proportionately homogenous.20 More intentionality can be discerned as standard hand axe
bifaciality shaping had been destroyed by the creation of preferential flakes, possibly after the
finished bifacial product has been made and outlived its tool life.20 This same practice has been
observed happening later on in European and Levantine sites, it having being posited from this
evidence that it is a signature of belonging to the Late Acheulean.20 On the cusp of transiting to
the Middle Paleolithic and being replaced by the Mousterian industry, could this technological
evolution be explained by cultural mergers between differentiated populations? The Oldowan
persisted in Eurasia long after it had been replaced with the Acheulian in Africa, so differentiated
populations with distinct technologies that developed independently after splitting from a common
ancestry would have met again after migrations either way. The Acheulo-Yabrudian complex has
been temporally assigned to a transitory period between the Lower and Middle Paleolithic.
Although relative behavioural modernity of the middle Paleolithic has been gleaned from Acheulo-
Yabrudian complex archaeological finds, there is a substantial, though not complete, lack of
standardized Levallois technology having been used which contrasts with the sudden appearance
and spread of laminar Levallois production in the Levant.18 A large proportion of Africa's
megafauna survived from being overhunted by hominins long before the end of the Pleistocene in
a larger magnitude than other parts of the world that they eventually expanded into.21 The latter
prompts the question, was megafaunal overkill related to the more advanced technology strictly
stemming from the Upper Paleolithic and any technology used by hominins prior to that would not
have enabled access to as such a high quantity of prey sustenance? Better technology brings about
more nutrition which itself allows population growth22 and that leads to more of a chance for
geographical expansion to happen due to competition for resources by a population, outcompeting
anyone else less technologically able inhabiting a region resettled by newcomers. Hafting of spear
points would have enabled the hunting for Megafauna, producing a much greater power to
penetrate an animal’s integument so as to kill them more efficiently. There is increasing evidential
information that hafting was used in the Acheulo-Yabrudian to a small extent23 becoming common
in the Middle Paleolithic, so was the need to evolve hafting, eventually aided along with the
improved later technological toolkit of the Upper Paleolithic, a prerequisite to Megafauna overkill?
There are two proposals to explain the earliest Upper Paleolithic in the Levant. One of them has
been developed from the examination of lithics and implies as a possibility that an Upper
Paleolithic blade industry arose bit by bit in supersession whilst retaining many of the
technological features of the Middle Paleolithic, namely created by the Levallois methods. The
other proposal is evidentially backed up on genetic grounds elucidating the African origin of Homo
sapiens and how they expanded through the Levant into Eurasia.24 Signs of early Upper Paleolithic
technology associated with H sapiens have been discovered far away from their genetically African
origins and of a very comparable type in technological skills level. This technology been found to
have expanded over hundreds of kilometers into Europe from their core area in the Levant.24 The
cultural techno-typology changes are more evident when the variable constituents of finds in
different regions are compared with those of the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) of the same
regions.24 Depending on the scrutinized region around The Levant, the Middle to Upper Paleolithic
transitional period approximately corresponds to around 50 ka to 35 ka and its geographical
occurrence was interspersed in habitat mosaics with the technology created suggestive of a
localized authorship before and after.8 The Whole extent of the IUP in the Levant contains a
technological elements continuum, ranging from Mousterian to uniquely IUP, to full-blown Upper
Paleolithic characteristics.8 The continental crossroads of the Levant is cited by various sources
as the geographical origins of the Upper Paleolithic, originating from Emiran cultures, the oldest
known. The Emiran culture appears to be concomitant to the migration of modern humans from
Africa into Europe and Asia.25. During the Emiran culture period, localized Mousterian technology
normally associated with the Neanderthals, but to lesser a degree with early North African
anatomically modern humans, appears to have transitionally evolved without any interruption into
an Upper Paleolithic technocomplex.25 The assortment of this new technology included the older
Levallois/Mousterian tradition but also incorporated the stage one type tool of the Upper
Paleolithic known as the Emireh point and curved knives resembling those of the Chatelperronian
culture of Western Europe. The latter is the single Upper Paleolithic industry thought to perhaps
have been created by Neanderthals whilst also being the youngest Upper Paleolithic industry of
Central and Southwest France, in addition to Northern Iberia.25 Is this use of a toolkit with
characteristics that are normally associated in part with Neanderthals and in other facets with
Modern Humans again evidence of differentiated populations merging without totally destroying
each other and their technocomplexes becoming one? Distinguishable Middle Paleolithic and
Upper Paleolithic lithic tool preparation strategies were each uniquely attendant with discernibly
different methods required to create products from cores and so in turn entailed behaviorally
evolved differences in how to envisage the final output.25 The term Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP)
was offered for consideration as an umbrella expression covering the variety in technology that is
ascertainable as being from that time, because not all finds were exactly the same.26 A typical
example of a distinct IUP technology is the aforementioned Emiran tool kit. It determines the
essential shift from archaic human to modern human behaviour. Wherever signs of the IUP are
found it is without exception the first successive temporal registering of the Upper Paleolithic
industry explosion in that discrete spatial locality.26 There is no cogent evidence that the
technological advancements of the IUP was solely the doings of modern humans and it cannot be
yet known for certain which hominins were responsible for producing it in different regions.
Characteristics determined from hominin fossils from the IUP vary between modern human and
Neanderthals, although there is a predominance of modern humans, a smaller number possess
Neanderthal features.27 This predominance is commensurate with a Neanderthal introgression into
modern humans, evident from the diluted percentage of Neanderthal genes that persist in modern
human populations outside of sub-Saharan Africa, but the generally associated hominin taxonomy
of the creators of the IUP is actually ambiguous. Extant modern humans, asides from sub-Saharan
Africans, are now known to have introgressed Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry and as molecular
clocks indicate that the IUP happened when hybridization was taking place, therefore both
biologically and culturally differentiated populations might possibly have been merging. It seems
plausible that during the IUP differentiated technocomplexes merged, that had at its disposal
alternative means to produce better items that were more effective in survival in the EEA and there
are records of such variability in technology happening in the combined overall geographical
spread of the IUP.27 If alternatively it were posited that the IUP localities scattering represents
frequent convergent evolution how come it happened over such a wide spread area in such a short
a period of time, having the MP persisted for so long prior to that? A plausible answer could be
that memetic convergence of the technology of the IUP came about if a whole suite of different
technological practices were originally all together subsumed into a generalized technocomplex
independently. This might have taken place over the entire Levant and adjoining African and
Eurasian areas over a long period of time. If differentiated populations had interbred to the extent
that incoming migrations would have easily integrated with a greater degree of familiarity in the
resident populations. Independent local inventiveness would have spread as a beneficial virus does
as the best memes produced enhanced fitness and if sustaining more successful technocomplexes,
have more of a chance of spreading at a faster pace, but be more subject to variability through time
and space as new situations in technological use fostered novel applications in its solving.
Since the beginning of the last Interglacial at 132 ka ago and the late Holocene 1000 years ago,
megafauna extinctions are closely connected to hominin paleogeography and modern humans are
thought of as being the main cause of worldwide megafauna extirpations or extinctions during this
period, only weakly conterminously contributive due to climate change.28 Even though originally
with H erectus in Africa there was a long period of hominin coevolution with their megafauna prey
without significantly affecting population numbers, modern human colonization of virgin territory
has been the more pervasive driver of extinction concurrent with the greater technology they had
evolved by then which enabled better resource extraction from ecologies. 28 Megafaunal losses
happened simultaneously with the global expansion of Homo sapiens in Australia around 45 ka,
Europe over 50-7 ka, Japan around 30 ka, North America from 15 to 10 ka , the Caribbean around
6 ka, the Pacific 1-3 ka, Madagascar around 2 ka, and New Zealand around 0.7 ka.11 The highest
rates of losses are associated with hominins suddenly entering virgin territories never before
trodden on and do not inclusively bear a relationship with climatic change.11 So hominins have
been the cause of major extinctions which started in small number in the Lower Paleolithic right
to the Upper Paleolithic coinciding with the technological explosion at the time with the extended
phenotype becoming more efficient in extracting resources from the environment. Fire associated
with human activities seems to have effected a top down control effected on vegetation in north
east Australia 40-42 ka ago replacing megafauna trophic interactions after their numbers had
dwindled which was concurrent to humans arriving on the continent.11 Vegetation community
types switched from a heterogeneous open woodland to a homogenous thick forest adapted to
survive fires with similar fire scorching happening after megafaunal losses in the Americas,
Europe and Madagascar.11 The rhythmic extinction of Megafauna in Eurasia co-occurs originally
with the expansion of Modern Humans through it, later exacerbated as they increased in overall
population size, aided by then by the more evolved technology of the Upper Paleolithic.29 Archaic
humans were already hunting Megafauna in Europe about 400,000 years ago without causing
major extinction events which might have been due to population numbers having been too low to
cause any marked effect on the survival of their prey, but evidence from Australia might just put
it down to lack of technological evolution. The earliest yet human occupation finds in Northern
Australia set at around 65 ka though,30 predating the early Upper Paleolithic in the Levant, inform
on a manufacturing of tools ahead enough in development to have played a factor in the demise of
Australian endemic megafauna. If even earlier finds in Australia dated to 120 ka ago turn out to
be verifiable31 and megafauna is known to have survived until 50-40 ka ago whilst being predated
on by humans32 it would mean that an analogy can be drawn with the coevolution of H ergaster
with megafauna in Africa. The late Pleistocene extinction encompassed just over 50 ka which
coincides with the Upper Paleolithic technological explosion, so did more efficient tools for
nutritional extraction from the environment create a positive feedback that as the population grew
so did their efficiency at predation? One thing is for sure, the modern global eco-system is unique
in having modern humans as the only hominins populating in huge unprecedented numbers an
environment generally greatly lacking the former biodiversity that existed prior to the Upper
Paleolithic.29 In the assessment of how faunal constituents of the biosphere affect the world’s
climate, non-human and non-domestic animals are still not factored into the related effects
equation.11 This erroneous legacy is due to the notion that plants dominate the ecological scene,
but in reality animals do in fact play a part in controlling ecosystems. Whilst it is true that animals
cannot live directly or indirectly without plants either trophically or aerobically they are greatly
intertwined by niche construction though. One example of this is that a large number of plants
have coevolved flowers or fruit specifically to attract animals so at to use them to enable
reproduction or dispersal having provided them with a tempting meal first.33 Such errors are due
to our species having evolved a limited cognitive awareness of the natural environment, initially
blind to the mass extinctions we ourselves have caused, only becoming a tangible fact in the past
few decades. By acknowledging that the terrestrial surface of the Earth is acted upon by top down
megafaunal controls can the effect of hominin mediated megafaunal extinction be appraised, from
there working out what the natural world was like for our prehistoric ancestors and what natural
environments we want preserve or mend if now deficient.
Not only were Neanderthals and Modern Humans just as proficient at extracting resources from
extensive ecological diversity found in different niches,34 but they also targeted the exactly the
same prey rather than species of the same guild. They could both achieve such specialization by
having a profound spatial cognitive awareness of the EEA they were driven to be part of, knowing
where to find whatever resource they required and when, adapted to the changeability of the
seasons. This ancient common ability of Neanderthal and Modern Humans to survive in ecologies
is the product of educational niche construction via temporally downstream epistemic
engineering.35 This entails acquired knowledge that does not have to be lost to be relearnt by the
next generation, being actively taught to the young so that they may be a step ahead with enhanced
future prospects. Once having been taught a suite of behavioural adaptations that could otherwise
not be effected as a species due to biological inheritance, any other new advantageous behaviour
discovered could be learnt and passed on. Despite being able to extract the same resources from
the environment, Neanderthals and Modern Humans used different technological paraphernalia to
hunt the same species that were part of their diet.36 No changes in hunting behaviour are discernible
throughout the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, but in contrast the technologies they used
to hunt did change drastically. There was cultural continuity in the sense of imparting predatory
skills to the new generations but no smooth continuity in the material resource culture, that is the
manual engineering of material elements from the environment and the application of these to
enhance reproductive success. 36 Homo sapiens with or without introgression is the surviving
hominin species having originated in Africa but as such the classification of modern humans is
purely a cultural expression possibly resulting from cultural mergers during the Middle to Upper
Paleolithic transition.15 Hybridization introgression as a surviving genetic signature in Homo
sapiens does not delimit what it is to be a modern human.15 Any human individual currently alive
today who belongs to the genus Homo is, after receiving an ample education, able to assimilate
any idea and the corresponding behaviour, created by any other individual alive or dead but whose
memes have been passed on. We already are the robots of the future of our own making in how
we can educationally program our brains to the extent that relative to the ubiquitous nature of our
androcentric ancestors, that is male intrasexual competition and intersexual dominance as the
means to gregarious structure,7 we have psychoneurally evolved into a species aiming for sexual
egalitarianism. Even if this means that our genome, including all the surviving living diversity
that entails, has basically remained the same, an obligate disposition to make pronounced
behavioural changes that suit us in alternate circumstances has contrastingly transformed us into a
new ‘species’ of ourselves. A polyphenism is the trait of being able to express distinct but specific
phenotypes from the same unchanging genome, that is, the genome expresses itself in different
forms depending on environmental settings. Our phenotypes are not limited by biological
processes and thanks to human hardwired plasticity and dexterity have evolved well beyond that.
Perpetuated through education and inculcation of objective perception of this universe our obligate
ability for behavioural plasticity neurally rewires our brains resulting in a new type of polyphenism
with humane intentions, overriding subjective tendencies that cannot conceive of being considerate
or long-term investment in the sustaining society one lives in. We are continually eliminating the
possibility of escaping into a wild anarchy after depredation forays. Thus, what is considered anti-
social behaviour nowadays is in fact behaviour we were adapted to but have eradicated by
sublimation, which is the modification of an impulse or instinct into one which is socially
acceptable. How did our species ever set the benchmark to perceive of anti-social behaviour as
such? Violence and aggression as a means of reproduction entails being competitive with others
of our species by killing each other for resources including intrasexual competition for women to
breed with in a finite environment and is therefore, as a species, behaviour parasitical on others of
its own kind. Its less costly to have humane intentions in a society that promotes such virtues if
environmental sustainability is considered, if not yet put into practice globally, but on the political
world stage no group of people being represented would affirm to candidly wanting to rule the
world by force or to plundering its resources. So as to be perceived of as humane and profitable
to others in an enlightened sense has evolved as a cultural adaptation promoting fitness instead but
with the caveat that Modern Humans have detrimentally become the number one dominant species
in this world, in the current geological age of the Anthropocene influencing environments and the
climate at a global level. Ensuing extinctions which are able be traced in the tens of thousands of
years back in time can be said to have stemmed from cultural mergers leading the Upper Paleolithic
technological explosion and within this paper it has been attempted to show that there is already
ample evidence which indicates that it might have been the case. This paper has also sought to
prove that cultural mergers led to the accelerated technological explosions of both the Acheulo-
Yabrudian complex Upper Paleolithic and that the present signatures of Neanderthal and
Denisovan introgression into Homo sapiens are a signature of differentiated technocomplex
mergers.
Is the occurrence of pure Neanderthals still persisting into the Upper Paleolithic as recent as 33 ka
and 24 ka before the present, who strictly kept using Mousterian technology in the last, or one of
the last, remaining populations of them ever at Gibraltar, a signature of no interbreeding with
modern humans having yet taken place, therefore no technocomplex mergers?37 Is it plausible that
neighbouring introgressed populations from the same time were already using the increased
efficiency of the Upper Paleolithic technology. This would have been an advantage to have and
even pure Neanderthals would have benefitted from having it, had they been able to learn how to
create it because it gave increased efficiency thus boosting fitness. Neanderthal cognitive skills
were similar to Homo sapiens and both concurrently once had the same technology in Northern
Africa.38 This writer has aboded for many years less than a kilometre from the Neanderthal 1 skull
found at Forbes Quarry at Gibraltar,39 possibly one of the last stands of Neanderthals before they
might have been introgressed into the larger population numbers of Modern Humans. The world-
renowned Rock of Gibraltar has since antiquity been known as one of the Pillars of Hercules, one
of two promontories that flank the entrance to the Mediterranean at the Straits of Gibraltar.
Neighbouring Spain and adjoining Andalucia both include the Pillars of Hercules in their flags,
therefore Gibraltar lives strongly in the present the Spanish ethos, whilst closer to home, the
Andalucian flag includes a representation of Hercules himself. Hercules was a mythological
Roman hero and god, famous for his supreme strength and exiting undertakings, and known all
around the world in this day and age as his story has been propagated in the mass media countless
times. It is tempting to contemplate that the story of Hercules might be a legacy of some collective
memory of there having once been a population, whose members were incredibly strong and who
had more recently introgressed by robust Neanderthals than other introgressed populations.
Especially enticing is knowing that the last of them survived in Gibraltar until their population was
replaced or subsumed by introgression into H sapiens. The latter might not be too far-fetched as
distinct Neanderthal behaviour might still persist in Modern Human populations.40. With the
archaeological discovery in the past decade of the oldest specialized tools in Europe at Neanderthal
sites predating the appearance of Modern Humans, these tools called lissoirs, used by Neanderthals
to work hides, are still used by leather workers today.40
That Neanderthal introgression happened is seen as a certainty by most of the world’s scientific
community in general and the best of them. Gibraltar should make use of that fact internationally
to promote all the Neanderthal finds at the Pillars of Hercules, especially as the vast majority of
people visiting the Rock, as equally Gibraltarian locals, are born from Neanderthal introgressed
ancestry. It would certainly attract more people to visit The Rock of Gibraltar.
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