NPR wonders if Neanderthals might have been religious. I think it’s an interesting question but first I have a question. They first say that Neanderthals are not part of our species. However, then they say that “humans” most certainly reproduced with Neanderthals.
The archaeologists’ scenario relates closely to questions I have been thinking about: Did the Neanderthals practice religion? How would we know it, if they did?
Let’s approach these questions by placing Neanderthals in evolutionary context. It’s now clear that Neanderthals are our cousins, not our direct ancestors or early members of our own species Homo sapiens. Known formally as Homo neandertalensis, Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia, overlapping in certain places at certain time periods with Homo sapiens — and almost certainly interbreeding with them (with us!) on occasion.
Even though populations of Neanderthals vanished around 40,000 years ago, genes of Neanderthals do live on today, tucked into the bodies of some of us and potentially affecting our health.
Now, I’ve always understood it that if you can reproduce and have fertile babies then you’re part of the same species. I went to a few websites and they essentially said the same thing.
Anyone have an explanation?