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Sexist Success For Humans

Sexist Success For Humans

By Faith Smith

Sexism isn't a trait I particularly favour in anyone, but thank goodness early humans were discriminative or we would never have existed!

New research from the University of Arizona has found that Homo sapiens had an evolutionary advantage over their Neanderthal cousins as they divided labour by sex and age. Whilst the males gathered food, the females stayed at home to sew and cook (or rather make weather-resistant clothes and grind seeds and nuts).

By contrast, Neanderthal communities favoured equality, a trait that ultimately led to their downfall. There is evidence to show that men, women and children hunted together in high-risk situations for large mammals. Archaeologists have found the presence of healed fractures on Neanderthal skulls of all ages reflecting their dangerous lifestyle. And as they only hunted for meat, the lack of a diverse diet meant they couldn't sustain larger populations.

But the emergence of 'female' roles in populations of the rival Homo sapiens allowed them to take advantage of other foods - the early humans used milling stones to grind seeds. Bone needles have also been found which could have been used to make shelters and clothes therefore they could survive in harsher conditions and out-compete Homo neanderthalensis.  Without this discrimination of labour we would have gone the same way as our big-browed, bruiser cousins and become extinct.

Some people might argue that, in the 30,000 years since the Neanderthals' extinction, we've done very little to change our own primitive behaviour. However, despite sexism still being rife all over the world we finally have proof of what we've known all along: men simply couldn't survive without women!

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"The industrial revolution & technological advances afterward are why we can live in a society without being sexist"

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14 Aug 2010