Earth's Children/Headscratchers

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

  • In The Mammoth Hunters, the old man, Mamut, had lived with Ayla's clan decades ago, long enough to be accepted as a hunter. It's clear in his conversations with Ayla that he remembers plenty about his Clan days. Why hadn't he taught Rydag any sign language? If having Ayla around reminds him of that period of his life, what did he think seeing Rydag every day, especially since he'd had a Clan mate himself?
    • Because before Ayla, there was a strong stigma against the Clan, and Mamut was keeping his time with them a secret. When Ayla came along and admitted she was raised by the Clan, the stigma was lifted with them, and there was a chance to teach Rydag sign language.
      • Plus his mastery of them was not even a fraction of Ayla's by the time Rydag came along. He didn't know enough to teach him.
  • It seems to me that the author didn't have an editor for The Shelters of Stone. There are a hell of a lot of grammar mistakes in that book. Most of them are comma splices, that's when a comma is used where a period or dash or sometimes a semicolon would make more sense (like I just did with this sentence.) Also, many sentences are ambiguous and/or just poorly constructed -- for example, the author will be talking about several female characters, and then refer to one of them as "she" when it isn't immediately clear who is being referred to.
    • Also, she suddenly refers to Willomar as Willamar. That was annoying.
  • The Neanderthals are portrayed as stupid while the Cro Magnons are "superior." Neanderthals aren't even a direct ancestor of Cro Magnons; they weren't less evolved-- their evolution had simply taken a different path-- and all the other inaccuracies in the books aside, this is the supreme one that really bothers me.
    • Firstly, the Neanderthals are not seen as stupid except by some of the characters, they just seem to have a genetic memory which is by now nearly full. Cro-Magnons on the other hand don't have that memory, but can learn new things much easier.
    • I thought it was Fridge Brilliance: if the Cro-Magnons weren't better at adapting to their environment than the Neandethals, then they wouldn't have completely displaced the Neanderthals, now would they?
    • It's mentioned several times in the first book that Neanderthals, while related to Cro-Magnons, are "a different branch on the tree of man", to paraphrase the author. Nowhere (aside from the prejudice/ignorance of Cro-Magnon characters) does the author state that Neanderthals are "stupid" or that Cro-Magnons are "superior". They just evolved differently.
  • Ayla discovers many things that would normally take generations and years to develop. She also tames a wild horse from birth to "domesticate" it. Animals are not "domesticated" if they are raised from birth as such; they will still act "wild" no matter how you raise them. Domestication is a genetic change.
    • Actually it's a bit of both, yes they're still wild in a sense, but they're a lot less wild than those raised exclusively by their own species. In fact if domestication was entirely genetic then we wouldn't have been able to domesticate them in the first place.
      • Not quite- domestication is, by definition, selectively breeding a species to make it more useful to humans, like silver foxes (specifically bred to be less aggressive, not just trained) and indirectly dogs. You guys are thinking about taming, which is the process of making something less wild, but doesn't stop a normally wild animal from still being skittish or yield offspring with similar behavior. Normally, traits in animals that are useful to us aren't necessarily useful to the animals but still pop up in wild populations every so often by way of mutation. And, ever so often, you'll get a wild animal that has those traits that normally wouldn't survive as well because of them, but under human use, survives and spreads those genes. For an example from Guns, Germs, and Steel, wild almond trees contain enough cyanide to make humans very sick. However, every so often, 'sweet' almond trees pop up in wild populations- these are trees that lack the gene to produce cyanide in their fruit. Normally, they lose most of their crop to birds and other animals, since they lack the protection cyanide gave them. Humans discovered some of them, and through latrines and eventually intentional planting, eventually made them much more common and further selectively bred them to be more 'modern'. Even aggression in animals has some genetic influences- less-aggressive dogs had less agressive pups which, combined with training, ended up more as dogs. The videos on silver fox domestication break it down better, but it's mostly genetics.
  • The Neanderthals are all dark skinned and haired while the Cro Magnons are fair skinned and haired. Evidence points to quite the opposite.
    • When the books started there was no evidence either way so this one I find to be excusable.
    • Actually, the evidence points both ways. By the time the books are set in, most of Cro Magnon humans have already branched into most of the proto ethnic subgroups. By that time it's entirely reasonable for Cro Magnon humans to be fair skinned/haired. Additionally, in one of the later books (Shelters of Stone, or the one preceding it) Ayla and Jondalar encounter a Neanderthal and his mate, both of whom are described as being fair haired and skinned. It seems that the clan Ayla lived with, and their relative clans, were simply a branch of Neanderthals with dark skin and hair.
      • It's specifically stated, in the scene where Brun's Clan find Ayla, that Iza's skin tone is changing "from winter pallor to summer tan".