Proposed Alternate Realities and a World in Which Humans Share the Earth with Neanderthals

I created a new Tumblr blog earlier this week, it is called “Proposed Alternate Realities.”  Basically I am just using it as a sandbox to dump random ideas of different worlds I have (I suppose it is somewhat similar to Jonathan Rosenberg’s webcomic “Scenes From a Multiverse” just not as a situational comic).  Some of them are quite absurd and some are (and will be) more serious.  Basically, I like the Tumblr blog format for just writing up quick little things.  I am also interested in the concept of alternate realities as the play into the role of fiction.  Somebody (I can remember who, but if you know please tell me) once said that “All fiction is an alternate reality” (or something close to that).  I believe this.  Even a story or movie that is intended to take place in our real current world is, in the very essence of being fiction, a proposed alternate reality.  As such, I see this blog as being kind of a brainstorm for story ideas too.

Anyhow, I wrote a lengthy (the lengthiest so far) post on the blog last night and I’d like to share it here.  I won’t say much about it, I’ll let you read it for yourself.  I recognize that it is not terribly scientific or anything, and kind of purposefully vague, but that is kind of the point (I mean, it is made up).  So here you go.

Humans Share the World With Other Hominids of the Homo and Australopithecus Genus Reality

Well there is a long title for you.  I also expect this to be a longer post, as well as being a more serious proposed alternate reality.  Basically (like most of these posts) the title explains it.  In essence, humans are not the only members of the Homo genus still alive on Earth.  Also there are a few species of Australopithecus alive too.

I suspect that I am not the first person to propose this kind of alternate reality.  I further suspect that other people who have thought of it have done a better job than I am about to do.  I will not claim all the science for being sound or for the scenarios being logical.  If you take issue with it, you can take this proposal and do all the fin tweeking you like.  Let me know about it, I’d be interested to see where you go with it.

So anyways, a staple for a lot of science fiction and fantasy is humans sharing a world with other developed intelligent species.  So you get elves and dwarves and trolls or some kind of alien creatures, etc.  But, keeping it more realistic, in this reality, it is simply that other species of the genus Homo and the genus Australopithecus are still around and sharing the world with H. sapiens.

The species of the genus Homo that are alive in this reality are:

  • H. sapiens: Yours truly, humankind, just like we know ‘em here.
  • H. neanderthalensis: Called “Neanders” here for short.  These are the classic “cavemen” we think about often times.
  • H. heidelbergensis: Called “Heidels” for short.  Very similar to Neanders but much taller.
  • H. erectus: Called “Erects” for short.  Significantly more primitive than the above.  Culturally and intellectually less advanced.
  • H. floresiensis: Called “Flores” for short.  While the status of Flores as a true species is in debate in our reality, in this reality they are real, and very strange (see the more detailed descriptions below).

There are also two or three (depending on who you ask) species of Australopithecus.  I won’t detail them specifically.  Basically these species are regarded mostly as animals.  Perhaps more advanced in tool use, communication, and socially than other great apes, but still basically wild animals that do not have their own civilizations or major interactions with the other Homo species besides the expected natural encounters.

Now for more details.  We’ll start with humans.

  • Humans: As I said above, they are like we are.  Humans are, by their own opinion as well as by more and more mounting research in this reality, the most advanced living species of the genus Homo.  They have built complex societies, developed increasing advances in tool use, and engage in the exchange of complex languages and mathematics.  As such, they are by far the dominant species of Homo in the world, and their whims and fancies have shaped the majority of history.  Humans have much the same success and failings in this alternate reality as they do in our own.  They can just as easily be compassionate, friendly, and inspiring as they can be cruel, arbitrary, and dishonest.  Many of the major accomplishments of civilization in this society have been achieved by humans.  However, there is a general arrogance to the species.  As science has demonstrated differences in genetics and brain usage between humans and the other Homo species, this arrogance has in many ways developed in the Superiority complex.  And while humans have largely, in the developed nations of the modern world, put aside past atrocities enacted on the other species (as well as their own) they are still a long way from being truly enlightened beings.
  • Neanders and Heidels: Genetically and culturally these two species of the Homo genus are very similar.  In regards to morphological appearance they are quite different.  Neanders are shorter than humans (averaging around 5’ or so) but significantly more muscular.  They have pronounced cranial ridges, broad and flat noses, and are considerably more hairy than humans.  Heidels on the other hand are very tall, with an average height of about 6’5” for an adult.  heidels are more muscular than humans, but not quite as much so as neanders.  Heidels and neanders have similar facial features and hairiness.  Early on both of these species compteted heavily with humans (as well as with each other) for dominance of territory and cultural influence.  In the end it is generally agreed that humans won (though many neanders and heidels will suggest the degree of this human-influence win is much closer to a stalemate than humans like to admit).  While many humans will, with bias, suggest that neanders and heidels are less intelligent, this just isn’t the case.  Many studies have demonstrated time and again, that humans, neanders, and heidels all rank at about the same comparative averages for IQ.  Furthermore, neinders and heidels are both expert tool users like humans, have developed advanced civilized cultures, and are heavily involved in the arts and sciences.  One major difference has been that both neanders and heidels are more prone to aggression than humans.  Studies have demonstrated that in stressful situations neanders and heidels fair much more poorly at maintaining patience or solving problems proactively rather than reactively (they are more likely to break something in anger when it doesn’t work than they are to try and fix it).  Because of this increased aggressive nature, along with their natural physical strength, both neanders and heidels have been very effective in warfare throughout history.  There has long been tensions between humans and the neanders & heidels, however, throughout history they have found many occasions to work together and cooperate.  In the modern world most nations include a relatively even distributions of humans, neanders, and heidels, all serving various roles and intermingling.  A few third world and less stable nations still see extreme inter-species violence and conflict between the three.  Neanders and heidels can both interbreed with each other as well as with humans with varying degrees of fertility of the progeny (90% of neander-heidel hybrids are born fertile; 75-80% of human-neander hybrids are born fertile; about 65% of human-heidel hybrids are born fertile).  Many neanders and heidels have risen to fame and contributed significant achievements throughout history.  So have many hybrid individuals.  For the most part neanders and heidels get by well in the modern world, but many feel a degree of distrust and frustration at the arrogance of humanity.
  • Erects:  The erects are the truly tragic story of this reality.  Because they are significantly less advanced and developed than humans, neanders, and heidels they have often been subjugated to awful abuses by all three of these other Homo species.  Slavery, genocide, destruction of home and civilization, have all been the results of the more “advanced” Homos.  Erects are unquestionably less intelligent.  They have not on their own terms developed as advanced tools or social structures.  Furthermore, while they can speak and understand languages, they do so poorly.  Very few are able to write, even after much practice an study.  Traditionally erects of lived in secluded primitive villages, living simple hunter-gatherer lifestyles.  The one area that they seem to excel in is the development of complex myth-ritualistic practices.  Also, they seem to have a keen intuition about native food and medicine sources.  Unfortunately, the other Homos have long viewed them as savages to be contained at best, and pests to be eradicated at worst.  This led to much slavery, genocide, and displacement of the erects throughout history.  Only in the past hundred or so years have real efforts been made to cease these atrocities and protect the species from further degredation.  Alas, a history of cruelty at the hands of the other species has caused a significantly diminished population of the erects in the modern world, and as such, they are the only modern living Homo species that is actually classified as “endangered.”  Erects can interbreed with humans, neanders, and heidels, but there is a high rate of still-birth and the hybrids that live are almost universally sterile.  The sad history of the erects has been a major cause for creating greater unity and peace in the world, so as to prevent future unforgivable atrocities.
  • Flores:  Of all the Homo genus species, the flores are the strangest and least understood.  These small people (rarely ever reaching a height over 4’, more often about 3’6”) inhabit most of Oceania, the south-east Asian islands, and Australia (though some can be found pretty much everywhere in the world in the modern day).  These people look physically similar to erects, but are just much smaller.  When first encountered by humans, neanders, and heidels, it was assumed that these small people would suffer a similar fate as the erects had, if not worse because of their diminutive size.  This did not happen however, in fact, the flores managed to repel the spread of the larger Homo species into their territory so that it was not until the past two centuries or so that humans, neanders, or heidels were able to establish any lasting colonies in the  south Asian islands or Australia.  The success of the flores is deceptive at best, if not downright mysterious.  Besides their obvious physically small stature, all flores have very small brain cavities.  Further studies have also concluded that an individual flores is only slightly more intelligent than an Australopithecus species, making them even less intelligent and developed than erects.  However, when first encountered, the flores were found to have their own very successful and surprisingly advanced (if not completely alien) civilizations.  The early humans, neanders, and heidels who first encountered the flores thousands of years ago had no means to understand these tiny people, but soon, they learned that the flores were best left alone.  Regardless of their physical size and stength, the vast numbers of flores were easily able to drive away and defend themselves from the larger Homo species.  It wasn’t until the past seventy years or so that an undrstnading of the odd flores began to come to light.  What was found, is that whereas humans, neanders, heidels, and erects are all able to function well as individual autonomous creature, the flores are truly a hive species, more similar to ants and termites in their social structuring than to the other Homo species.  Their hive mind existence made them very well suited to dealing with the other Homo species and as such they have flourished in their territory.  A single flores is not a very big threat or remotely even that intelligent, but a thousand of them are an incredibly effective and calculating swarm.  Research in the past decades has begun to allow more and more understanding of the flores and their strange social structuring, as well as some inroads to means of communication.  It is still uncertain as to how these people are able to maintain such a tight and effective hive-mind, but nevertheless, they are a present and active part of this reality.

Okay, so there you go.  You get the picture right?  I could go on and on and explain how different this world is (different countries, history, science, etc.) because of these different species but I am not going to because I think it would take a book (who know maybe I’ll write one … or somebody out there could do it).  Just know that this reality is very different from our own, not just because these species are present, but because of the impacts their presences have had on the world.

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~ by Nathaniel on February 2, 2012.

2 Responses to “Proposed Alternate Realities and a World in Which Humans Share the Earth with Neanderthals”

  1. A bit like the counter-factuals game from Big Bang Theory?

  2. I would totally play that counter-factuals game . . . with gusto and pride.

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