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There is great controversy regarding how violent Neanderthals were and how much Cro-Magnons hastened their demise, but there is no doubt that sophisticated stone tools were used for far more than hunting mammoths. A Gravettian child’s vertebra was found with a projectile point lodged in it. Flint blades and projectile points lodged in vertebrae and other bones, and skulls broken by stone weapons, are common finds in Stone Age graves around the world. Before the Paleolithic Era’s end about 12 kya, cave paintings depict torture, people pin-cushioned with arrows, and other violent scenes. In 1964, , which has been dated to about 13 kya. Such finds are increasingly common, and are often situated near coveted resources such as riverbanks. The Golden Age of the Hunter-Gatherer was long gone by 15 kya in the Eastern Hemisphere but would briefly flourish again in the last continents that humans conquered. Here is a map, based on DNA analysis, of the dates of human migration to the Americas. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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Economics is the study of humanity’s material well-being, but humans have rarely thought past their immediate economic self-interest, even when the long-term prospects were obviously suicidal, such as today’s global energy paradigm. Because environmental issues affect humanity’s material well-being, they are economic in nature. As can be seen so far in this essay, there was little awareness or seeming caring in early civilizations whether they were destroying the very foundations of their civilizations. Even if they did not care how much other life forms suffered, they did not seem to realize that it also meant that those oppressed and exterminated organisms and wrecked environments would not provide much benefit to humanity in the future, especially energy, whether it was food or wood.


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By 20-17 mya, apes became common in East Africa, , up to 90 kilograms, and some . Nearly all apes eventually abandoned tropical canopies, and although monkeys were scarce in the Miocene, they stayed and dominate them today. The number of monkey species increased and ape species have decreased rather steadily over the past 20 million years. With that late-Oligocene warming that continued into the , tropical forests began expanding again. When Africa and Arabia finally crashed into Eurasia and , apes escaped Africa beginning about 16.5 mya. They had thickly enameled teeth suited to the non-fruit foods available outside rainforests. Their migrations resulted in new homes that spanned Eurasia, from Europe to Siberia to China to Southeast Asia. It was a spectacular that tallied more than 20 discovered ape species so far, and has been called the Golden Age of Apes. That is how gibbons and orangutans arrived in Asia. About 14 mya in Africa, the , and about 12.5 mya the . By that time, and orangutans continued down their evolutionary path, isolated from their African cousins. One . A descendant from the , at three meters tall and more than 500 kilograms. Below is a comparison of that primate to humans. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)