Neanderthals Were Ancient Mariners

Michael Marshall, NewScientist, February 29, 2012

It looks like Neanderthals may have beaten modern humans to the seas. Growing evidence suggests our extinct cousins criss-crossed the Mediterranean in boats from 100,000 years ago—though not everyone is convinced they weren’t just good swimmers.

Neanderthals lived around the Mediterranean from 300,000 years ago. Their distinctive “Mousterian” stone tools are found on the Greek mainland and, intriguingly, have also been found on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. That could be explained in two ways: either the islands weren’t islands at the time, or our distant cousins crossed the water somehow.

Now, George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece says we can rule out the former. The islands, he says, have been cut off from the mainland for as long as the tools have been on them.

Ferentinos compiled data that showed sea levels were 120 metres lower 100,000 years ago, because water was locked up in Earth’s larger ice caps. But the seabed off Greece today drops down to around 300 metres, meaning that when Neanderthals were in the region, the sea would have been at least 180 metres deep (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.032).

Ferentinos thinks Neanderthals had a seafaring culture for tens of thousands of years. Modern humans are thought to have taken to the seas just 50,000 years ago, on crossing to Australia.

The journeys to the Greek islands from the mainland were quite short—5 to 12 kilometres—but according to Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island, the Neanderthals didn’t stop there. In 2008 he found similar stone tools on Crete, which he says are at least 130,000 years old. Crete has been an island for some 5 million years and is 40 kilometres from its closest neighbour—suggesting far more ambitious journeys.



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  • Imagine that. 100,000 years ago Neanderthals were crossing the Mediterranean Sea and 5 minutes ago an African was building a mud hut.

    That 4 percent of the DNA makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?

    • Rocky Mountain

      And a white guy is living in a clapped out trailer cooking up meth in West Virgina.

  • anonymous_amren

    For comparison, black people never made it to Madagascar off the coast of Africa (admittedly that’s 400km, but they didn’t make it to the closer islands either). South East Asians beat them to it.

    The so-called “modern humans” they are talking about (Aborigines), have a very large amount of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA (I can’t access the figures, they’re behind a pay wall, does anyone have them?). But they never made it to islands like Kangaroo Island, which was 13 km away. Aborigines had been there 20,000-10,000 years ago when it was connected to the land, but were isolated and went extinct after it became an island, and Aborigines never made it back.

    White people made it to the moon.

  • Kurt Plummer

    I realize the stone age toolsets became more modern as our ancestors advanced from chippers and handaxes and just the fact that they are still here, after 20,000 years of weathering and/or chemical reduction in the earth is something to be amazed by.
    But still, we are talking about very basic tools which could be mistaken for simple ‘rocks’ by most laymen and which -do not- reflect the highpoint or even the intitiating loci of our greatest cultural achievements.
    We need to be careful in avoiding the attribution of too much innovation/exploration credit to these early peoples, even if everything postulated about them is true, because to make such emphasis is to leave ourselves open to relatively much later achievements in the Middle East and China where other cultures introduced everything from metalwork to organized agro to early writing and engineering.
    LONG AFTER this Solutrean highpoint.
    We should instead emphasize that every racial (awaiting speciation) subgroup is on it’s own evolutionary path with it’s own maximum as adaptive method.  Some will aim higher.  Some will fall lower.  At least until advanced genomic therapies levels the field, somewhat.  But evolution is a genetic answer to an evolutionary question asked -long- ago.
    And while it is reassuring that what we identify with as ‘white’ made it across the Mediterranean as much as Atlantic, at best this can be seens as the first heat in a multievent race which we could _still lose_ if we don’t pay attention to the simple existence of our own values, in the present.

  • William_JD

    And some have more Neanderthal ancestry than others.

  • Guest

    There is no such thing as a “neanderthal”.  Once you scratch the surface of all sociology, anthropology and paleontology, you discover it is ALL just so much fraud.  So a bunch of new school marxists dug a few human bones out of the dirt from different corpses of people of long ago and assembled them in ways different from the way modern humans look….so what.  Many turn out to be animal bones (which is why such things are rarely allowed to be looked at closely by disinterested third parties).  The most interesting of the “discoveries” have turned out, to a one, to be intentional frauds and exposed as such.

    There were people, long ago.  Far longer ago than you were taught in school.  That’s important to know.  But what is equally important to know…..and actively covered up….is that these long ago people were WHITE people.  That is what is shown, invariably, whenever a good close look at these findings slips out and maybe some genetic testing is done.

    There are basically three, genetically distinct types of humans.  Whites, blacks and asians.

    Blacks never even developed out of the stone age and have NONE of the hallmarks of ANY civilization, let alone advanced civilization, apart from what white societies not only develop for them but literally force upon them.  The moment such force is removed, whatever civilization is present immediately dissolved as they return to a stone age living.

    Asians develop limited civilizations but the evidence is clear.  They don’t travel.  Theirs is a limited scope of survival within a niche that cannot change, move or adapt.

    ALL real civilization….exploration, adaption, development of all systems of thought, ways of being, comes from one race and one race only….whites.

    THAT is what the evidence shows.  What it REALLY shows.  All the other things are red herrings to keep people from seeing this.

    • JohnEngelman

      Blacks never even developed out of the stone age.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
      – Guest                                                                                                                                                                        
      In 730 BCE, the Nubians again invaded northern Egypt, and the Nubian king, Piankhi, moved his capital to Memphis and started Egypt’s 25th dynasty. An Egyptianization of Nubian culture had begun, including the use of Egyptian writing. Egyptian became the official language of Nubian government, and gods among the Nubians acquired Egyptian names.
      The Assyrians came, drove out the Nubian king and brought with them to Egypt the knowledge of iron making and iron tools and weapons. Iron making became common in Egypt, and it spread south along the Nile to Nubia….
      By 500 BCE, a civilization where Nigeria is today was in full bloom. It smelted and forged iron for tools, and it is known for its terracotta sculpture. Iron there improved hunting and forest farming, which may have helped to build population pressures of the Bantu speaking people there. Bantu people began migrating from this area eastward through savanna and forests.                                                                                                                    

      • JohnEngelman

        Asians develop limited civilizations but the evidence is clear.  They don’t travel.  Theirs is a limited scope of survival within a niche that cannot change, move or adapt.                                                                                            
        – Guest                                                                                               
        If Asians do not travel, why are you afraid of Asian immigration to the United States? 
         If Asians have a “limited scope of survival within a niche that cannot change, move, or adapt,” why is it that the Japanese can produce better cars and consumer electronic products than Americans? Why is it that the Chinese can produce products as good as the Americans, but cheaper? 

        •  Yes, broad generalizations, such as those made by “Guest”, are easy pickings. Low-hanging fruit can be found in just about any point of view.

  • JohnEngelman

    Remains of their campsites indicate that the Neanderthals were significantly less intelligent than the Cro Magnons who imposed “race displacement” on them. The Neanderthal tool kit was much more limited than the Cro Magnon tool kit. Neanderthals did not seem to be able to plan for the future. They did not seem to practice trade. 
    Neanderthals were only able to hunt large, slowly moving animals. They killed them by walking up to them and pushing spears into them. This was a dangerous method that exposed them to often fatal hunting accidents. It was not effective against smaller, faster animals, like deer and rabbits. 
    The spear throwers used by the Cro Magnon’s enabled them to kill the large, slow moving, and powerful animals from a safe distance, and to hunt the smaller animals when the larger animals became extinct. The Neanderthals were quite a bit stronger than the Cro Magnon’s. The Cro Magnon spear throwers also enabled them to kill the Neanderthals from a safe distance. 
    When the larger, slow moving animals were hunted to extinction, the Neanderthals became extinct too, although not before giving everyone who is not a 100 percent African Negro a few genes. 
    I am glad to have a few Neanderthals as ancestors. When I first learned about them as a child I thought they had been wrongly treated by the Cro Magnons. 
    When the ancestors of the Cro Magnons left Africa fifty to seventy thousand years ago, they looked more like Bantu than Scandinavians. 
    By the way, American Renaissance posters who worry about “race displacement” reveal doubt about the racial superiority of whites. Inferior races do not displace superior races. 

    • “Inferior races do not displace superior races.”

      “Inferior” and “superior” are subjective terms. Those who are superior at having more babies certainly can displace those who lack that ability. Also, if you consider the ghetto blacks who now inhabit Detroit to be “superior” to the whites they displaced, then you would be living there, or someplace similar. But most likely you don’t.

      • JohnEngelman

        It is more important to raise one or a few children well than many poorly. The illegitimate children of the underclass could not survive without Aid to Families with Dependent Children. AFDC should be replaced with free abortion on demand. 

        •  True, but as it stands, those who are not producing many children (or a few, but raising them well) are being forced to subsidize the many children who are being raised poorly. As a result, prolific (and thoughtless) breeders are displacing conservative breeders.

      • Bobbdangerous777

        I remember reading a eugenics article that compared fertility among scholars and prisoners. Scholars and prisoners in their designated institutions have a very similar age range, so they were compared, and it was found that prisoners were much more fertile than scholars. So the superior race is getting displaced.

  • Carney3

    The Tasmanians lost the secret of fire AND the means to return to the mainland. 

  • Weltanschauung

    When the sea level was at its lowest, the Strait of Gibraltar was dry.  There was no longer any reason for the sea level inside the Mediterranean basin to match the level of the ocean. I have seen the claim made that the Mediterranean nearly dried up. The Greek islands may have been dry after all, or reachable by raft across a brackish pond.