survival and extinction


Ursus Maritimus, 1995, Mark Dion Born USA 1961, Foam body, fiberglass, glass eye, clay, goat skin, wooden base made of pine and MDF. Purchase, West Coast Art Acquisitions. Committee of American Friends of the Israel Museum

Who survives in nature and who becomes extinct? Why did Homo sapiens survive when all the other human species vanished from the face of the earth?

In the Stone Age, there were two human species populating the Middle East: Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. Modern humans — our forefathers — evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago, migrating from there to this region, whereas Neanderthals came from Europe. Evidence shows that the two species actually co-existed, sharing the same land, hunting the same animals, struggling to meet the same challenges in nature. Why, then, did one species survive and not the other? Some scientists believe that the two interbred and merged, and they therefore view the Middle East as the melting pot of humankind. Others are convinced that the Neanderthal species became extinct. Many large animals were also driven to extinction — and that only exacerbates the question of why our own species survived.

The process of survival and extinction has not yet ended. The future is not looking good for many of the planet's biological species, and a growing number are facing extinction as a result of the behavior of modern humans, whose struggle to conquer nature often leaves destruction in its path.