Re: Efficient production of Neanderthal birch tar

“An engineer is able to build a high-quality product using off-the-shelf components and integrating them under time and budget constraints. The engineer is often faced with ill-defined problems and partial solutions, and has to rely on empirical methods to evaluate solutions.” (1)

Birch tar or “Neanderthal glue” refers to an adhesive created by dry distillation of birch bark. It is not particularly impressive on its own and could even be created by accident (2). What is most notable is that Neanderthals produced large quantities of high-quality tar for use in everyday tools even with very small group sizes and in the absence of a sedentary, agricultural lifestyle (3). This would have required them to use a very efficient process:

“[Researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands] tried to recreate tool’s manufacture, collecting strips of birch bark, mounding clay over them, and building a fire on top to heat the bark inside to 300°C–400°C for hours. The procedure was hot enough to produce thick tar, as the resinous bark disintegrated. By comparing the chemical composition of the modern tar and its impurities to the ancient tar, Langejans and her team found that the Neanderthals likely used the same procedure.” (4)

Birch tar can only be created in a restricted temperature range (5). When all of these facts are considered together, they suggest that Neanderthals engaged in a process of trial and error to arrive at the most efficient production method (6). This implies an understanding of cause and effect relationships. More to the point, it satisfies the definition of engineering that we learned in [redacted]: “The systematic application of scientific knowledge in creating and building cost-effective solutions to practical problems.” -[redacted]

Expert opinion on Neanderthal behavioral complexity and intelligence tends to be polarized. The skeptics (as in reference 2) tend to be more conservative when drawing implications from the available data. In making this argument, I’ve assumed that I’m understanding concepts and studies in a specialty in which I have no training, and that the experts themselves have done their due diligence. I would also grant to the skeptics that particular brilliance is not proof of general intelligence, as there are many counterexamples in nature: spiderwebs, for example, are an extraordinary solution to a practical problem that is created by instinct, without any evidence of general problem-solving ability, and thus could not be described as “engineering”. However, because of the implied cause and effect understanding necessary to create an efficient process and the general complexity of the behavior, which involves creating and maintaining a controlled-temperature fire and using the product thereof to haft a range of general-purpose tools, I believe the weight of evidence is overwhelmingly against the skeptics.

References:

  1. Bruegge, Bernd, and Allen H. Dutoit. Object-Oriented Software Engineering: Using UML, Patterns, and Java. Prentice Hall, 2010.
  2. Schmidt, Patrick, et al. “Birch Tar Production Does Not Prove Neanderthal Behavioral Complexity.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 116, no. 36, Sept. 2019, pp. 17707–17711. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1073/pnas.1911137116.
  3. Th. Niekus, Marcel J. L., et al. “Middle Paleolithic Complex Technology and a Neandertal Tar-Backed Tool from the Dutch North Sea.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 116, no. 44, Oct. 2019, pp. 22081–22087. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1073/pnas.1907828116.
  4. https://www.science.org/content/article/50000-year-old-tar-smeared-tool-shows-neanderthal-smarts
  5. Koch, Tabea J., and Patrick Schmidt. “The Formation Conditions of Birch Tar in Oxygen-Depleted Environments.” Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 13, no. 6, June 2021. EBSCOhost, search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eoah&AN=56268662&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  6. Kozowyk, Paul R. B., and Johannes A. Poulis. “A New Experimental Methodology for Assessing Adhesive Properties Shows That Neandertals Used the Most Suitable Material Available.” Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 137, Dec. 2019, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.102664

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12 Responses to Re: Efficient production of Neanderthal birch tar

  1. bicebicebice says:

    >spends 1 million years to perfect the quality and production of birch tar before going extinct

    thats a Yikes!from me thank God God put them out of their misery what a miserable existance! Good thing we live in completely normal times where white man™ just snaps his fingers and heckin COMPUTERS running on ELECTRICTY with COMPUTER CHIPS appeared so we can all just play video games and talk about how perfectly natural and normal it is at the same time larping about the godlike ubermensch the neanderthard and his exciting existence of birch tar production

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I guess putting pony figurines on model trains isn’t for everyone.

      • Pony Respector MM says:

        No other activity brings aspies and nazis closer.

        Well, till you find out why hans had the the kitchen oven on after giving the ponies what seemed like a routine shower 😔

      • bicebicebice says:

        Why did God create a human that spent itz time improving the quality and production of birch tar, watching blue paint dry on the downlow?when the FORMULA is so heckin simple just white people-as many as you can stack on as little space as possible = COMPUTERS!

        maybe the real truth was that the neanderthards eventually offed themselves no longer finding any meaning in the noble pursuit of improved birch tar

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          Now I want to unironically start an e-zine on frontiers in birch tar. You can make it with different properties for different applications and there’s no upper limit on the quality.

          • bicebicebice says:

            saying “birch tar” or even thinking about it increases your overall wellbeing by +1, mm birch tar…

            and thats exactly the “problem”, again, why did humans with higher cranial capacity settle for mundane shit such as the aforementioned and building better rock piles min/maxing worshippers and builders of said piles…and then you have modern dumb people who flew to the moon on a potato but can’t go back because technology got worse as it got better (?!?) and change their entire culture in 2-5 year cycles whereas older humans just couldn’t stop refining birch tar…functioning much like animals such as beavers or bees doing semi-essential shit for the ecosystem of the planet….even melonheads become more natural than modern people in this sense,,,,

            The internet is still the same as it always was, just a new paint job really, I’m starting to think that the average IQ between 1700-1899 must have been between 150 and 200, itz one thing to perfect a thing but to invent it altogether….we’re shitposting on the soulders of titans…maybe the real aliens were the refined eugenic whites we lost along the way

            it doesn’t get any more blackpilling than this itz officially over and the party stops when we run out of stored IQ to lean on the smartest man alive today is still dumber than someone who emptied latrines in 1776

            • Aeoli Pera says:

              Novelty take: There’s already a journal for frontiers in birch tar and it’s called the science fiction and fantasy genre.

            • aiaslives says:

              Dude in the 1700s woulda said the same thing about dudes in the 1500s, although yeah the speaker would be a peasant telling this stuff to his wife and 20 children, all lounging on his “small” piece of land

              One should either not read at all and be 130+ or read too much and be 180+

              Anything else is dysgenic

  2. I want to post again..... says:

    What do I have to do to come back? I’ve been on NoFap Hard Mode (No PMO) for 106 days. Does that count?

  3. Pingback: Annotated bibliography re: Neanderthal birch tar | Aeoli Pera

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