The way Henry Gee tells it (the exact dates are endlessly debated by paleoanthropologists and evolutionary theorists), we became hominid about five million years ago and ‘human’ in the sense of Homo erectus about three million years later. Homo sapiens in the modern sense, however, only developed about 30-40,000 years ago. Why it was that our genetic cousins, the Neanderthals, died out just a few thousand years after the arrival of Homo sapiens, is one of evolution’s enigmas. ‘Wherever humans advanced,’ Gee explains, ‘Neanderthals retreated.’ In what he calls ‘a sudden spasm’,
Just think of it, that could be us: a world of endless honey-pots and Poohsticks, with only Heffalumps and Eeyore’s chronic depression to worry about, and with just Tigger, Piglet, the god-like Christopher Robin and a few others for company.