Part 1: The Rise of Man?

Neanderthal ChildFor my first post, I have decided to discuss a topic recently brought up on my Hypothesis Project forum: what if humans (Homo sapiens) never evolved and the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) continued to exist up until modern times? Would they have evolved into a new, more advanced species or would they have remained the same yet with a more evolved culture? First of all, the Neanderthals were very adept to cold, northern environments during a time where those sorts of areas were highly available. I am unsure that these thick, robust beings would continue to exist with the ice age ending and temperatures warming. Would it be possible for them to adapt to a warmer climate? I would say yes. Although most specifically adapted for cold regions, they are found as far as the Middle East and Spain, suggesting that they might not need the ice for survival. It is often theorized that our own species wiped out the Neanderthals, either through competition, some disease, or “absorption” by interbreeding. Without the human factor, the Neanderthals could have taken the leading role as the dominant hominid or could have gone extinct even without human interference.
Let’s take the first possibility: Neanderthals survive and humans never appear. Several questions must be considered: will they radiate outwards to other regions of the earth, will they encounter other species of Homo such as H. erectus, will they remain hunter-gatherers or will they domesticate wildlife and plants for their own specified usage, will they remain simple, possibly ritualistic beings or will they develop civilization to some extent, and how might they effect the fauna of this world devoid of human beings?
Beginning with the first question, will they radiate outwards to other regions of the earth? I believe yes. Our own species managed to spread from Africa to Eurasia, Australasia, and the Americas before even developing civilization. Starting from Europe, I predict that they would have spread across northern Asia and then the Bering Strait to North America. I think the spread to the “southern” continents will take longer, starting with Africa and then Australia, perhaps even South America. Now will Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis ever meet? Probably not. A majority of H. erectus populations were declining by the time we appeared and if this “hypothesis” were to follow the same timeline, by the time Neanderthals would reach southeast Asia (the last stronghold of the “upright” race), their cousins would already have been extinct.
Neanderthal culture and civilization to be studied in the next part of “The Rise of Man?”
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