The Invaders

The Invaders

How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction

Book - 2015
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With their large brains, sturdy physique, sophisticated tools, and hunting skills, Neanderthals are the closest known relatives to humans. Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe--descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo . But when modern humans eventually made their way to Europe 45,000 years ago, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Ever since the first Neanderthal bones were identified in 1856, scientists have been vexed by the question, why did modern humans survive while their evolutionary cousins went extinct?

The Invaders musters compelling evidence to show that the major factor in the Neanderthals' demise was direct competition with newly arriving humans. Drawing on insights from the field of invasion biology, which predicts that the species ecologically closest to the invasive predator will face the greatest competition, Pat Shipman traces the devastating impact of a growing human population: reduction of Neanderthals' geographic range, isolation into small groups, and loss of genetic diversity.

But modern humans were not the only invaders who competed with Neanderthals for big game. Shipman reveals fascinating confirmation of humans' partnership with the first domesticated wolf-dogs soon after Neanderthals first began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, she hypothesizes, made possible an unprecedented degree of success in hunting large Ice Age mammals--a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for humans over Neanderthals at a time when climate change made both groups vulnerable.

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts :, Harvard University Press,, [2015]
ISBN: 9780674736764
Branch Call Number: 569.986 S557i 2015
Characteristics: xiii, 266 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Sep 19, 2015

Decent writing, if sometimes flippant, and occasionally confusing.

Aug 22, 2015

Some interesting points & thoughts especially regarding the evolution of dogs. The discussions of the possible length of coexistence of modern humans and Neanderthals and the evolution of the dog is really two different subjects. Probably put together to make enough material for a book and for the publisher to give the subject an intriguing 'new' twist.
Her writing style is academic and demonstrates a downside to the 'publish or perish' modality for professors. It could have been more readable. Then again it does get the information out to the general public.
Her treatment of the dating of artifacts is most annoying. She dives into the problems of carbon--dating. basically saying much of it was no good. Then she proceeds to use the dates citing old dates revised dates and mixing the two. For the general public, me, it would have been better to give a consistent approach with the dates using her best estimates. However, this would have involved sticking her academic neck out to far.

LRS1969 Jul 05, 2015

I felt that the book stated a hypothesis that the author just really never came close to making believable much less proving.

Also many of the "source information" cited was, to put it bluntly, quite questionable.

I read (in horror) as segment in Chapter Nine where the author was citing the extra caloric need of Neanderthal Man (and especially citing the extra caloric needs of pregnant or lactating Neanderthal females) - apparently with the objective of showing that Cro-Magnon Man (with dogs) had a better efficiency at hunting than did Neanderthal Man. In any case, she first cites the much higher caloric difference for Neanderthal versus Cro-Magnon due to Neanderthal Man being so much larger. This simply is not true. Neanderthal WAS larger that the predecessor species "homo heidelbergenisis" but overall NOT really bigger than Paleolithic Cro-Magnon.

The average height for Neanderthal males was 5'6". Cro-Magnon males averaged 5'10" with many fossil remains well over 6' tall

Neanderthal likely may have been very moderately more stronger based on upper limb length and ribcage and shoulder girdle girth, however Cro-Magnon was still also quite muscular though taller and lean rather than shorter with much higher upper body strength. Bodyweight levels would have been similar.

The entire comparison from that point forward is moot as Cro-Magnon caloric needs indeed were VERY similar to those of Neanderthal. I really don't know if the author failed to grasp that a correct comparison of Neanderthal being bigger is valid when comparing Neanderthal to his ancestor sub-species (but NOT in comparison to Cro-Magnon) OR if the author continues to buy into the long disproven MYTH of the huge, hulking Neanderthal versus the smaller, scrawny (but faster and smarter) Cro-Magnon - or "modern human" as she would say! Anthropological evidence shows that just was not so!

And then it gets worse. And for no reason. Having (incorrectly) calculated the higher caloric needs of Neanderthal as compared to Cro-Magnon, the author then cites "Brian Hockett" (a local manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada) who gives his expert opinion that Neanderthal could NOT have made up that (non existent) caloric difference by eating meat as this would have required the consumption of a large amount of animal muscle and organs which would have lead to "Dead Neanderthals" (his words) with the explanation that this consumption would culminate in "an end result of rather severe over- and under-consumption of essential nutrients.... " The author then goes on to say that "Hockett reminds us that leafy green vegetables and other plants must have formed a significant part of Neanderthal diets" - though conceding that there's really NO archeological evidence of that! In the very next paragraph the author - in discussing a similar need for Cro-Magnon Man to obtain a large amount of calories - mentions that very "difficulty" (impossibility) of finding plant foods in winter... then waves it off as "there MAY have been some behavioral adaptations" (that NO anthropological scientific researcher has EVER found - rather than conceding that the Flat Earth dietary beliefs of "balanced diets with lots off carbohydrates" that the author and Hockett prescribe to simply aren't factual and MOVE ON).

I suggest that Mr. Hackett - and the author - read up just on the works of just one author, arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Early in the 20th Century he lived amongst the Inuits / Eskimos for many years and not only recorded them, but ate as they did... a diet that was very Paleolithic. We're talking WAY OVER 90% animal flesh and organs (and the fatter the meat the better). Caribou, seals, walruses, polar bears, fish, etc. Almost NO carbs.


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