|Hermann Schaaffhausen primatology|
Lacking the concept of extinct human species, Hermann Schaaffhausen fit the evidence in the Feldhofer cave above the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf into the history he knew. Limestone quarrymen had blasted open the cave and told Hermann, the local schoolteacher, that they had found old bear bones. Recognizing that these were not bear bones, and knowing that the Romans had driven out less civilized tribes from the region, Hermann explained that these were the bones of a pre-Roman race, “barbarous and savage.”
Seven years after Schaaffhausen announced the bones with their pronounced brow ridges found with bones of extinct mammals from before the last ice age, Professor William King in Galway first acknowledged that they represented an extinct and human cousin of our species which lived side-by-side in Europe with our ancestors for a hundred thousand years before they disappeared.
Everyone says we don’t know why the Neanderthals disappeared, but it should be obvious if one considers the rate at which humans have been destroying other cultures, other languages, other habitats, other tribes, races, and species. It should be obvious if one considers our recent histories of pogroms, holocausts, and genocides. In the darkness of every human persists a disappearing region touched by fear and hatred that is difficult to question and hard to own.