Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction” as Want to Read:
The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  376 ratings  ·  82 reviews
With their large brains, sturdy physique, sophisticated tools, and hunting skills, Neanderthals are the closest known relatives to humans. Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe--descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo. But wh ...more
Hardcover, First Printing, 266 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Belknap Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Invaders, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Invaders

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  376 ratings  ·  82 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
As other reviewers have already pointed out, the title of this book is something of a misnomer. The bulk of the text concerns itself with the Neanderthal extinction and establishing the fact that it was already well under way prior to homo sapiens migrating into Eurasia. The book is a bit more suited to an academic audience than a lay audience, and serves as a very nice technical guide to the varying pressures exerted upon prehistoric megafauna and Neanderthals by climate change, the resulting c ...more
Gilda Felt
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are several intriguing ideas regarding how the histories of three species, Neanderthal, human, and wolf, came together. Though I suppose collided would describe it better. I was especially taken with how the author names human as the invasive species that they were, invading new lands and bringing about the demise of the indigenous species, a legacy we seem to have carried on. And the theory makes more sense to me than that climate change brought about Neaderthal’s extinction, as they had ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think the title is a little deceptive. If you are interested In good general interest history in how the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens hashed it out in Europe back in the day then this book is not for you (or me). You can find out all you can learn from this book by reading a review or publishers summary. Unfortunately like many books written by academics the essential thesis of the book - dogs plus people = advantage over Neanderthals - is interesting but dragged out over too many pages in mi ...more
Nelson Wattie
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a small compass this book provides much to think about. Although its main focus and binding theme is the extinction of our fellow humans, the Neanderthals, and the reasons for it, from that centre it spreads out into a wide range of information and speculation, all adding up to a rich picture of the state of knowledge and theory about “invasion biology” and related topics.
To illustrate the complex of themes, Shipman considers the elimination and later reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone N
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book but ended up feeling pretty ambivalent about it. From the beginning, the story is obviously headed towards trying to convince us that wolves were domesticated and used by humans for hunting in a way that contributed to the decline of Neanderthals. Shipman never makes the case in a convincing manner. It comes across as a way for a retired academic to publish an idea that the peer-reviewed literative would never have allowed. Nevertheless, it does highlight some inte ...more
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not as ground-breaking as I'd hoped. Clan of the Cave Bear series covered all these topics (admittedly fictionalized but based on solid research). This was no fun unless you're a scientist interested in reading about various studies on the history.
Christopher Hellstrom
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting theory about the blood pact between humans and pooches to gang up on Neanderthals. Not convinced it is true. I think I saw my Yorkie nodding in solidarity as I was reading it though.
T.R. Cross
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel like this book could be subdivided into two distinct arguments. 1) Humans caused, though we're not the only cause, of the decline and extinction of Neandertals. 2) The specific advantage that aided humans was the alliance they formed with another Eurasian apex predator, the wolf. That the domestication of the wolf and the creation of the dog was the deciding factor. While I feel Shipman makes a compelling case for the first argument, I don't feel she quite makes the case for the second. T ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book I really like to read now and then--speculation based on the latest scientific findings. Shipman deals with the long-standing question of what happened to the Neanderthals, our closest relatives, who, like us modern humans, had large brains, toolmaking abilities, and hunting skills. But they are the ones who disappeared...
Using knowledge that we've gained about invasive species, Shipman makes the argument that early H. sapiens ( we used to call them Cro-Magnon Men) mov
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This brief book posits that human beings function like invasive species, and after establishing a few housekeeping facts (the background of climate change, the available evidence for judging human / neanderthal populations and their diets) argues that humans and Neanderthals were competing for the same space in some regions of the globe, rather like wolves and coyotes, and that humans drove neanderthals out because of their advanced tool usage and domestication of wolves. While Neanderthals did ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads, audio
I've been meaning to read Svante Paabo for some time and Chris Stringer's Lone Survivors for even longer - but an Overdrive audio copy of this came across my screen and I'd remembered Pat Shipman's name from when I was an anthropology student. This is a a popularized scholarly text like the other two books. I'm not sure I like the marketing decision of Belknap Press (aka Harvard) to bring dogs into the subtitle or the dramatic cover art, and the cover version for my audiobook is crazier (that se ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reminds me of "Guns, Germs, and Steel"
Bastard Travel
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Here's a fun hypothesis for you: What if the reason we don't have Neanderthals is because they couldn't hang in an environment where they had to compete with us for resources? What if the reason they couldn't compete is because, in addition to their preposterously oversized skulls which had difficulty passing through the birth canal, they couldn't befriend wolves?

What if the reason they couldn't befriend wolves was because Neanderthal eyes were structurally similar to those of virtually every ot
I do not have a good relationship with audiobook - I tend to wool gather or fall asleep while listening to them. So I might have missed something and couldn't flip back to check.


This book is something of a detective/mystery novel where the author tries to find out why the Neanderthals went extinct. Her hypothesis makes use of ecological theory to suggest that modern humans have the same effect on the environment as any other invasive species competin
Pfano Percy
We are a self-serving species. Period. We are fierce animals that will get rid of anything we don't understand, much worse, anything that threatens satisfactions of our needs, wants and pleasures. The process is Domestication and breeding followed by taming and exploitation.

Those that we can't domesticate, we kill. Those we tame, entertain us and serve us as slaves. Animals make up for all our weaknesses. Their Strength, their senses and their energies
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
While I learned a ton from this book about the various hypotheses about when and where and why the Neandertals took the nose dive into extinction, the book's title is highly misleading.

For instance, it takes 12 chapters (out of 15) before Shipman gets to the ideas of how wolf-dogs were first domesticated. These chapters are great. The notion that because humans have white scleras, this genetic development lead to more cooperation and nonverbal communication among individuals. Coupled with the f
Cody Macdermid
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had the desire to read this book for quite some time, and this was due to Shipman appearing on an episode of Quirks and Quarks (amazing podcast, by the way). The result was a tedious desire for something more. The bulk of the book is basically an introductory to anthropology, and this wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't the majority the book. There were points reading this where I was like:
"Where are the dogs?"
"What is she going on about?"
"Why is it taking so long to get to the fucking dog
Sara V.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A "prosumer" discussion of Neanderthal extinction and the domestication of dogs by modern humans.

Presents an intriguing theory, but the theory isn't really enough to fill a book, and so the text is somewhat repetitive without bringing a lot of new information to the table.

Someone who hasn't read a lot of recent non-academic discussion of the latest knowledge about Neanderthal sites, dating, etc won't get a good picture of what we know, and someone who *has* read up will be saying "yes, yes, I
It's hard for me to review a science-based non-fiction speculation on prehistory, but...the title and cover really implied there'd be more dogs in it. You don't get to the dogs until about 80% of the way through the book, and even then there is very little written to support the subtitle of "How humans and their dogs drove Neanderthals to extinction." I realize this title was probably a marketing choice (put a dog on the cover and people will read it) but I was hoping for, as the book itself put ...more
Joe Dang
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author had interesting theories that may be controversial. Dogs made humans more efficiency hunter gatherers. She correlates the domestication of dogs from wolves with the appearance of multiple kill sites like mammoth butcher sites. As a result of greater hunting efficiency, Homo sapiens survived the climate changes of the last ice ages whether as the Neanderthal species did not.

She does not claim that Homo sapiens interacted much with Neanderthals as there is little evidence other than tr
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have an interest in prehistoric hunters and their tools i.e. spears,atlatl and the use of fire and charcoal they used and was disappointed more attention was not devoted to them or to dogs.I don't even know why dogs were included in the title.This books is more of geographic timeline of early man.While I am not sorry I read it,it did give me some of my own new ideas and theories of what could have transpired several hundred thousand years ago.
Takeo Kondo
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Domestication of dogs by modern human, Homo Sapience, was the main reason why Neanderthals went to extinction, the author argues.
The author should have mentioned how nomad people maintained their power until seven or so hundred years ago.
As we all know by the example of Mongol Empire, until we developed guns, nomad controlled the whole Eurasia except Europe and Japan.
I agree that the men with dogs were very effective against the men without dogs.

Andrea Hickman Walker
Pat Shipman is always good, and this is a particularly fascinating subject. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the narrator had a tendency to sound stilted, like a computer generated voice often does.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just as I thought. Invasive Homo Sapiens and his damned dogs are responsible for the trophic cascade that obliterated Neanderthals, Mammoths, cave bears, Sabre tooth cats, woolly rhinos and many more. Chock full of data that proves it, too.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Just read the last chapter, it describes the whole book
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pat Shipman's thesis is that modern humans domesticated wolves (read: had dogs) whereas Neanderthals didn't, and therefore with the help of their wolf-dogs modern humans outcompeted and extincted Neandeethals and subsequently have taken over the world as an invasive species. While this book is filled with fun speculations and lots of facts, I find her thesis untenable. For one, Neanderthals never went extinct! They interbred with "modern humans" and still to this day, some Europeans are nearly 1 ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Starts out with dogs as the focus, then goes thru a lot of details about the humans occuping the stage, the weather, then winds up the last chapters with a return to dogs.
So, a bit long-winded with regards to the changing peoples and environment, but its the route chosen, and it finally all makes sense in the end.
As a dog lover, it rang true to my 'deep thoughts' regarding dogs, but this was completely up-ended, by another book I just read. "How the dog became the dog"

Somewhere between the two-
Brian Griffith
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shipman has a great leap of insight, applying the experience of modern invasive species to the history of our own species. It's a flash that illuminates the deep past, when Cro-Magnon homo sapiens invaded Europe and a wave of extinctions followed. The insight itself takes little time to tell. It's the weighing of scientific evidence that takes up most of the book, and this gets technical. She presents charts on how the body sizes of predators influence the size of their prey, or comparisons of t ...more
Pamela Hale
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
This reads like a dissertation. Unfortunate because the subject itself is fascinating. I must say that Jean Auel's book "Clan of the Cave Bear" written in 1980 had the same research and information PLUS a great storyline.
Jenn Baker
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Interesting topic, not written for the casual reader. Author didn't get around to the point until chapter 12 or 13. Probably good if you're looking for an introductory academic book on the subject. I did learn quite a bit.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World
  • Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
  • Origins: How Earth's History Shaped Human History
  • The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples
  • The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir
  • American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
  • Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves
  • Where Do Camels Belong?
  • The Black Prince: England's Greatest Medieval Warrior
  • A Pocket History of Human Evolution: How We Became Sapiens
  • Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
  • The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
  • Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story
  • Vikings
  • Lucy Crown
  • Exploring and Mapmaking
  • Codex 632
See similar books…
Pat Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. Coauthor of the award-winning The Ape in the Tree, she writes for American Scientist and lives in Moncure, North Carolina.

Related Articles

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
50 likes · 13 comments