Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Controversial Lapedo Child

Lapedo Child was discovered in Abrigo do Lagar Velho, near Leiria, Portugal. The skeleton was found in a limestone canyon and dates to about 24,500 years ago. It was found buried in red ochre and with pierced shells, indicating some type of religious burial. All around the canyon were artifacts from the Gravettian Culture, an Early Modern Human or Cro-Magnon culture. So far, none of this would cause a stir in the archeological world, let alone real world. But, it has courted some controversy because of some of the hypothesis that have come out of the discovery.

What makes this nearly complete child's skeleton controversial is that in 1998, when it was found some scientists and archeologists took a double take at it. They noticed that the skeleton seemed to have both the look of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. This would bolster the idea that Neanderthals didn't die out because they were killed by early modern humans, rather they breeded with their close relative and were slowly born out of existence. Now, it wouldn't be controversial if someone didn't disagree. Many do in fact. They think that the skeleton shows only Cro-Magnon features and that seeing a Neanderthal-Human hybrid is reading way too much into some of the anomalies on the skull. We'll let the hubbub sort itself out and end this way. If the Neanderthals were bred out of existence, that might not be the worst way to go. Basically Neanderthals, if they went extinct this way, went out by doing the dirty. And if you gotta go, that's not a bad way to do it.

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