Extinct human species inspire fantasy races and monsters

My whole life I’ve been fascinated by human ancestors or prehistoric members of the genus homo. Neanderthals are the most well known. Their disappearance from Europe at the same time that modern homo sapiens moved into the continent has held the attention of researchers for years. Many ideas have been presented about their downfall, but I’ve always suspected that humans hunting Neanderthals played a big role in their disappearance. I base this belief on what I know of recorded human history. Wiping out neighboring peoples and taking their lands have been standard operating procedures for thousands of years. Humans have been known to wipe out many species. Hunting is considered the major reason for the mass extinction of megafauna and the rise of agriculture. We killed all of the animals and had to figure out another way to get food.

Reading and writing fantasy literature usually includes humans warring with other races, usually nasty orcs that represent the unsightly other that must be killed and can be killed without regret. I believe that the races and monsters that make the fantasy genre so fun and interesting are derived from our deep body memory of battles fought in distant ages when we were not the only species making weapons. It’s not too far of a stretch to image a burly Neanderthal as a giant or troll.

The article below suggests that the steady influx of more humans into the continent of Europe gradually caused our species to prevail and the other to wither.

Neanderthals were doomed to fail, new study suggests

Neanderthals lived at the same time as early humans. They were strong, smart, and in many ways better than their counterparts. Yet humans endured, while Neanderthals went extinct (though in a way, we still carry them around through our DNA).

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