Isn’t it funny how we like to pretend to be “objective” even though we really cannot be fully objective? No matter how objective we try to be our values and perceptions enter into our objectivity no matter what. And something else that enters into our objectivity is our own egotism and arrogance. Allow me to explain…..
We tend to perceive of our modern civilization as the most advanced ever to exist on planet Earth. In turn, we tend to think of our species H. sapiens as the most advanced species in our lineage and, indeed, we are. Sadly, the end result of this arrogance is that we tend to look down upon those species who came before us. Neanderthals are a good example. We have historically viewed them as the stereotypical “cave man” complete with club when, in fact, mounting evidence is showing this perception of Neanderthals to be WRONG! And the same is true when it comes to Homo erectus!!
There is a growing amount of evidence that H. erectus was more sophisticated than we have previously thought. For one thing this species migrated out of Africa, according to the OOA/Replacement Theory, and spread across Asia basically “colonizing” the planet for us. That fact alone proves that this species of early human ancestor was not an idiot! Did they wonder about aimlessly? Did they just go wherever the winds blew them? I find that a bit hard to believe, frankly, because it appears that IF H. erectus migrated out of Africa and into Asia and eventually down in to South East Asia that the species may have had some sort of plan. It looks to me like they knew where they were going! But, that’s only if you believe in the Out of Africa (aka: Replacement) Theory which I do NOT subscribe to. I believe that many species of ancient human ancestors coexisted all over the planet and they didn’t migrate from anywhere as they were always here, in those places where they are found. And I also believe that what happened with these ancient hominids is that they did NOT go “extinct” but that there was a lot of interbreeding between the species culminating in H. sapiens (us) which is the end product of all of this hybridization.
That said let me turn to Peking Man who belonged to the species H. erectus in China. We know that H. erectus groups lived in China 700 kya. And what is being discovered is that Erectus may have survived cold climates by making sophisticated weapons such as spears used for hunting and other tools used for butchering game. Back in 2011 a new study suggested that Erectus were likely SMARTER and MORE ADEPT than we previously believed! Once again our arrogance is exposed in our thinking that this hominid species was so primitive when in fact is was not as primitive as we would like to have believed.
Peking Man was discovered in 1918 in China and this hominid fossil was the first H. erectus fossil found in China. It was found in the fossil rich cave known as the Zhoukoudian cave system (for these is more than one cave) near what used to be called the city of Peking but is today known as Beijing. Up until recently it was believed that H. erectus lived in this area sometime between 250 kya and 500 kya. This was after the end of a glaciation period that resulted in cooling of the climate in Northern China. In 2009 new research determined Peking Man was much older than thought and this raised significant questions about how these cave dwellers survived that cold climate.
A team of researchers led by Chen Shen of the Royal Ontario Museum took another look at artifacts found at the cave system site and they concluded that H. erectus in China likely learned to survive by crafting rather sophisticated weapons and tools (or did they already know how to do so?). What is suggested now is that Peking Man and his species in Northern China had a lithic (stone) tool technology not as primitive as we once thought. It appears Peking Man and his Erectus species made specific tools/weapons for specific tasks! This is significant because it show a level of cognition in H. erectus that we previously believed was not there.
Further, Peking Man may have made spears with STONE TIPS and used them for killing and butchering animals as opposed to using simply sharpened sticks like chimps use! It now appears that H. erectus had the cognitive ability to make composition tools (tools made of several different materials such as wood and sharpened stone spear points) and this indicates STRONGLY that this ancient human ancestor possessed a level of dexterity AND INTELLIGENCE that approaches that of MODERN HUMANS!!
This making of sophisticated stone tools/weapons by H. erectus in China is the EARLIEST known evidence of such activity by early hominids in China. Like Peking Man modern humans also had to adapt to the cold weather and one of the things they did was to make sophisticated weapons for hunting and thus providing them with furs for warmth and meat for food. And now it appears H. erectus did the SAME THING! So where did our egotism go????
I have NEVER bought what I call “the CRAP” that our ancient human ancestors were the idiots they’ve been painted as being! IF they were indeed such idiots then that makes US idiots! Modern humans are NOT idiots so I don’t think our ancient ancestors were either!! In fact, I think our ancient ancestors were rather ingenious in many ways. They, like us, had to survive and they did whatever necessary to survive various conditions and threats. And I’m sure that they tried to make their lives comfortable just as we do but perhaps NOT in the same way. This shows INTELLIGENCE not stupidity! We seriously need to reevaluate NOT our ancient ancestors BUT OURSELVES and set aside our own sense of egotism and arrogance!! We may NOT be as genius as we like to think we are!!
So here’s what I’m saying. Maybe instead of engaging in so much self (species) glorification we should glorify our ancient human ancestors a bit more. After all, aren’t they the reason we are here? Instead of painting a FALSE picture of them as archaic brutes we should take a closer look and give them some CREDIT especially when it comes to INTELLIGENCE AND COGNITIVE ABILITY! If they really were as stupid as we seem to like to believe then WE would NOT be here today because the stupid did NOT survive in ancient societies especially hunter-gatherer societies. Instead, they became hyena food! The mere fact that they DID survive and that WE are here today is PROOF that our ancient human ancestors were NOT as ignorant as we like to paint them to have been!!! It’s time we get off our high horse and get a REALITY CHECK!