Were Neanderthals Smarter Than Us – Update August 27th 2008

Since yesterday, following a press release about Metin Eren’s research on Neanderthal’s use of flints, there has been widespread reporting in the media.

The Guardian – Reports includes a reference to their hunting abilities

BBC News – An interview with Professor Chris Stringer comments on the diversity of tools created by modern humans whilst acknowledging that many palaeoanthropologists recognise the neanderthals as capable technicians (for manufacturing flint flakes)

The Washington Post – In this article the Neanderthal’s larger brains and stockier build is discussed as well as evidence that they were using blades between 200,000-400,000 years ago. There are suggestions that they co-existed with modern humans for 10,000 years but that they may have been ‘outpopulated’ by humans eventually.

The Independent – Mentions the difficulties of colonising an Ice Age Europe and goes into the methodology of the study

Lab Notes – This article talks about the ‘experimental archaeology’ being carried out at Exeter University where Metin Eren’s 3-year research took place

Wired – This article even has a suggestion that under different circumstances the Neanderthal’s might have gone onto colonise the world!

The Scotsman – Professor Adler is quoted, saying that the Neanderthal’s were smart and dangerous and previous research suggested they were better hunters than Homo Sapiens

Here are some related articles of interest

Sequencing the Neanderthal Genome

Neanderthal’s Matured at 15 – What’s interesting in this article is that because the Neanderthal’s brains reached a larger size than ours, they had much more growing to do in the critical period of infancy. Referring back to the article on Freud’s relevance to modern psychiatry and Feeley’s model, I wonder what it meant to have a faster rate of brain growth at a younger age. Perhaps the mother’s influence on the Neanderthal may have been even greater than in humans. However, humans may have had a wider snapshot of parental behaviour before the foundations of their brains were complete. If this were so, it might have suggested a wider repertoire of social ‘tools’ than Neanderthals. This hypothesis could be tested by looking at social behaviours of mammals with varying rates of reaching brain maturity.

How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Relate – Discussion of multiregionalism v Out of Africa theory

Neanderthal Speech – Short response on what speech Neanderthals might have had

Addendum (Added 1.3.9)

1.3.9 Note the performance of a chimpanzee called Ayumu on this memory task.

11.1.10 Complex make-up in use by Neanderthals 50,000 years ago. Also covered here.

Disclaimer

The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor.

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