27 Dec 2017

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron


Building on research that rehabilitated Neanderthal culture in the popular view, Cameron has created a story around the possible first encounter between a young Neanderthal woman and local homo sapiens. In a parallel story she follows the paleoanthropologist who discovers the female Neanderthal’s remains.

Cameron LastNeanderthal

Rose, the paleoanthropologist, discovers the Neanderthal remains lying in relation to the remains of a modern human. She is possessive of the site and of her theories about what the positioning of the skeletons might mean, in terms of Neanderthal culture and inter-species relations. But her own pregnancy starts to get in the way of her being viewed as a scientist. In a clever paralleling of the stories of the scientist and the young Neanderthal, Cameron points out how current social arrangements and views might well have existed in prehistoric times. The story does not resolve itself perfectly – leaving the reader to imagine scenarios – much like a paleoanthropologist at a dig site.