Today an international team of archeologists announced the discovery of the earliest known Palaeolithic painting of what appears to be a two-wheeled transportation vehicle (see photo above). This crude representation of a two-wheeled vehicle is the first evidence of humans’ capacity to contemplate the possibility of wheeled transportation. Experts consider this to be a breakthrough in understanding the development of human culture.
From about 100,000 to 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals were the principal inhabitants of Europe and adjacent parts of Asia and Africa. Just over five feet tall, Neanderthals had sloping foreheads with prominent brow ridges and thickset bodies. Their culture included the use of fire, clothes to protect them from the elements, and living in caves.
Despite having a brain capacity slightly larger than our own, Neanderthals were considered to be brutish and dimwitted. However, recent reconstructions of the fossil evidence have shown Neanderthals to be a subspecies of Homo sapiens. Therefore, they are now called Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
40,000 years ago, the Cro-Magnons, a subspecies of Homo sapiens — called Homo sapiens sapiens — replaced Homo sapiens neanderthalensis in Europe. Cro-Magnon skeletons are nearly identical to present day human skeletons. Flint and bone tools and polychromepaintings on cave walls are evidence of an advanced culture. Homo sapiens sapiens is the only remaining species of the genus Homo. What happened to the Neanderthals is unknown.
The first stage of early human culture is known as the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. One of the greatest achievements of Paleolithic culture was art. Realistic paintings of animals have been found in Cro-Magnon caves in Spain and France, dating from about 28,000 to 10,000 B.C.
Around 10,000 B.C. humans developed a new culture called Mesolithic. Mesolithic groups made bows and arrows for hunting and fashioned skis, sleds, and dugout canoes for transportation.
In light of today’s discovery, it appears that, in addition to using skis, sleds and canoes, early humans may have invented a two-wheeled vehicle — a precursor of the modern day bicycle — to use as transportation. It’s unknown whether the painting found recently represents an idea or an actual vehicle made by humans in the Palaeolithic or Mesolithic culture.
Some archeologists have hypothesized that the ability to conceive of an unadulterated form of human powered transportation may have been what set Homo sapiens sapiens apart from Neanderthals, who had a penchant for designing crude environment eradicating tools — not unlike today’s automobiles.
As hunter gatherers, early humans may have wished to increase their speed of travel to escape predators or cover larger areas of land in search of food. The discovery of the Stone Age two-wheeled vehicle painting may indicate that appreciation of two-wheeled transportation is a genetic trait, one which gave Homo sapiens sapiens an edge over Neanderthals.
Two-wheeled transportation may have provided an evolutionary advantage because it was less catastrophic to the environment, which early humans were entirely dependent upon for survival. Neanderthals may have died out because of their inability to remain in harmony with nature and their insistence on destroying the natural world to make their lives easier.
One interesting theory derived from this recent discovery rests upon the notion of interbreeding among Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals. This could account for the percentage of modern humans with unrefined beliefs, unmitigated hatred, and a predilection for destructive apparatus and activities.
The progeny of Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals may be attracted to occupations such as journalism where they have an outlet for writing caustic, defamatory articles aimed at riders of human powered two-wheeled vehicles. An example was seen recently in The Boston Globe where an article, consistent with the possession of Neanderthal genes, insulted cyclists and called for bicycles to be banned from the City of Boston.
Other Neanderthal-like individuals wrote an anti-two-wheeled vehicle article in the Boston Herald depicting users of bicycles in a negative light and claiming (with distorted statistics) that they were receiving preferential treatment with respect to traffic law enforcement. This type of trait is common in Neanderthals whose short-sightedness and unilateral thinking may have been the cause of their demise.
Studies of these Neanderthal-like journalists are underway. Scientists are searching for genetic clues to explain the brutish, intolerant ill will these journalists aim at minority groups to incite the majority into attacking and destroying them. Such tactics, some scientists believe, may have backfired on the Neanderthals leaving them the target of counterattacks from their opponents.
Archeologists are planning to study the newly discovered two-wheeled vehicle painting to gain a better understanding of how early humans conceived of transportation and whether differences in the ability to comprehend a vehicle’s impact on the environment plays a role in determining a Homo sapiens subspecies’ survival versus extinction.
One thing is eminently clear: if a propensity for two-wheeled natural transportation is found to be a genetic trait, it’s entirely possible that the Neanderthal view of motor powered transportation — as the only way for humans to travel — may be eradicated through the process of evolution. Natural selection may preserve Homo sapiens’ predisposition to two-wheeled transportation for posterity.