Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




ABOUT US
Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans
by Staff Writers
Boulder CO (SPX) May 02, 2014


File image.

If you think Neanderthals were stupid and primitive, it's time to think again. The widely held notion that Neanderthals were dimwitted and that their inferior intelligence allowed them to be driven to extinction by the much brighter ancestors of modern humans is not supported by scientific evidence, according to a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Neanderthals thrived in a large swath of Europe and Asia between about 350,000 and 40,000 years ago. They disappeared after our ancestors, a group referred to as "anatomically modern humans," crossed into Europe from Africa.

In the past, some researchers have tried to explain the demise of the Neanderthals by suggesting that the newcomers were superior to Neanderthals in key ways, including their ability to hunt, communicate, innovate and adapt to different environments.

But in an extensive review of recent Neanderthal research, CU-Boulder researcher Paola Villa and co-author Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, make the case that the available evidence does not support the opinion that Neanderthals were less advanced than anatomically modern humans. Their paper was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"The evidence for cognitive inferiority is simply not there," said Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. "What we are saying is that the conventional view of Neanderthals is not true."

Villa and Roebroeks scrutinized nearly a dozen common explanations for Neanderthal extinction that rely largely on the notion that the Neanderthals were inferior to anatomically modern humans. These include the hypotheses that Neanderthals did not use complex, symbolic communication; that they were less efficient hunters who had inferior weapons; and that they had a narrow diet that put them at a competitive disadvantage to anatomically modern humans, who ate a broad range of things.

The researchers found that none of the hypotheses were supported by the available research. For example, evidence from multiple archaeological sites in Europe suggests that Neanderthals hunted as a group, using the landscape to aid them.

Researchers have shown that Neanderthals likely herded hundreds of bison to their death by steering them into a sinkhole in southwestern France. At another site used by Neanderthals, this one in the Channel Islands, fossilized remains of 18 mammoths and five woolly rhinoceroses were discovered at the base of a deep ravine. These findings imply that Neanderthals could plan ahead, communicate as a group and make efficient use of their surroundings, the authors said.

Other archaeological evidence unearthed at Neanderthal sites provides reason to believe that Neanderthals did in fact have a diverse diet. Microfossils found in Neanderthal teeth and food remains left behind at cooking sites indicate that they may have eaten wild peas, acorns, pistachios, grass seeds, wild olives, pine nuts and date palms depending on what was locally available.

Additionally, researchers have found ochre, a kind of earth pigment, at sites inhabited by Neanderthals, which may have been used for body painting. Ornaments have also been collected at Neanderthal sites. Taken together, these findings suggest that Neanderthals had cultural rituals and symbolic communication.

Villa and Roebroeks say that the past misrepresentation of Neanderthals' cognitive ability may be linked to the tendency of researchers to compare Neanderthals, who lived in the Middle Paleolithic, to modern humans living during the more recent Upper Paleolithic period, when leaps in technology were being made.

"Researchers were comparing Neanderthals not to their contemporaries on other continents but to their successors," Villa said. "It would be like comparing the performance of Model T Fords, widely used in America and Europe in the early part of the last century, to the performance of a modern-day Ferrari and conclude that Henry Ford was cognitively inferior to Enzo Ferrari."

Although many still search for a simple explanation and like to attribute the Neanderthal demise to a single factor, such as cognitive or technological inferiority, archaeology shows that there is no support for such interpretations, the authors said.

But if Neanderthals were not technologically and cognitively disadvantaged, why didn't they survive?

The researchers argue that the real reason for Neanderthal extinction is likely complex, but they say some clues may be found in recent analyses of the Neanderthal genome over the last several years. These genomic studies suggest that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals likely interbred and that the resulting male children may have had reduced fertility.

Recent genomic studies also suggest that Neanderthals lived in small groups. All of these factors could have contributed to the decline of the Neanderthals, who were eventually swamped and assimilated by the increasing numbers of modern immigrants.

The study is available online

.


Related Links
University of Colorado at Boulder
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ABOUT US
Brain Does Not Work The Way A Computer Does Recognizing Speech
Boston MA (SPX) May 02, 2014
How does the brain decide whether or not something is correct? When it comes to the processing of spoken language - particularly whether or not certain sound combinations are allowed in a language - the common theory has been that the brain applies a set of rules to determine whether combinations are permissible. Now the work of a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator and his t ... read more


ABOUT US
350 dead, hundreds missing in Afghan landslide village

No answers, only hope as MH370 China father heads home

Malaysia Airlines to end hotel stays for MH370 families

Italy cruise ship removal project halted: media

ABOUT US
Element 117 confirmed by scientists, closer to being officially named

TV terrifies and compels with viruses and robots

Newly Identified 'Universal' Property of Metamagnets May Lead to Everyday Uses

Researchers Develop Harder Ceramic for Armor Windows

ABOUT US
Sustainable barnacle-repelling paint

Study in 'Science' finds missing piece of biogeochemical puzzle in aquifers

NASA Begins Field Campaign to Measure Rain in Southern Appalachians

Relentless rains drench US East Coast

ABOUT US
Network for tracking earthquakes exposes glacier activity

Krypton-dating technique allows researchers to accurately date ancient Antarctic ice

Cougars' diverse diet helped them survive the Pleistocene mass extinction

Ancient sea-levels give new clues on ice ages

ABOUT US
Danone says will buy New Zealand dairy factories

Corn crops increasingly vulnerable to hot, dry weather

U.S. corn yields are increasingly vulnerable to hot, dry weather

Saving Crops and People with Bug Sensors

ABOUT US
Deep origins to the behavior of Hawaiian volcanoes

Australian tsunami database reveals threat to continent

Magma in Mount St. Helens rising, but no risk of eruption

Odds of storm waters overflowing Manhattan seawall up 20-fold

ABOUT US
EU CAR force operational, at Bangui airport: sources

Libya security forces lose 9 dead in Benghazi clashes

China's premier Li Keqiang set for first Africa trip

War, late rains spark Somalia 'crisis' warning

ABOUT US
DNA 'Sat Nav' directs you to your ancestor's home

Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans

Extreme sleep durations may affect brain health in later life

Brain Does Not Work The Way A Computer Does Recognizing Speech




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.