Or perhaps the analogy of Cain and Abel?
Newly analyzed remains suggest that a modern human killed a Neanderthal man in what is now Iraq between 50,000 and 75,000 years ago. The finding is scant but tantalizing evidence for a theory that modern humans helped to kill off the Neanderthals. The probable weapon of choice: A thrown spear.
The evidence: A lethal wound on the remains of a Neanderthal skeleton. The victim: A 40- to 50-year-old male, now called Shanidar 3, with signs of arthritis and a sharp, deep slice in his left ninth rib. “What we’ve got is a rib injury, with any number of scenarios that could explain it,” said study researcher Steven Churchill, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina. “We’re not suggesting there was a blitzkrieg, with modern humans marching across the land and executing the Neandertals [aka Neanderthals]. I want to say that loud and clear.” But he added, “We think the best explanation for this injury is a projectile weapon, and given who had those and who didn’t, that implies at least one act of inter-species aggression.”
What is interesting about the disappearance of the Neanderthal is that it is hard to explain simply in terms of competition for resources with early Homo Sapiens, given that the global human population was astronomically low. The Neanderthal too, would have had many physical advantages, given their more robust physiology, over their evolutionary cousins. Speculation has ranged from climate change, to immunological differences to the cognitive and cultural.
Could a key cultural difference have been a propensity of Homo Sapiens to make war? To seek out, rather than avoid conflict?