Neanderthals smarter than we give them credit for

Filed in Uncategorized by on September 24, 2010 0 Comments

A new study to appear in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory in December, challenges our current views of the long-extinct Neanderthal.

Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado in Denver, says Neanderthals, which split from our evolutionary line about 500,000 years ago, were able to invent their own tools.

circa 1920: A model of Neanderthal man constructed on the basis of excavated bones, at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)According to the BBC News, until now, it was believed that the only way Neanderthals got their tools was from contact with Homo sapiens.

But the researchers found a group in southern Italy, isolated from Homo sapiens, who had developed a number of innovations like projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible fishing and small game hunting.

Between studies proving that modern humans share 99.5-99.9% of DNA with Neanderthals (who disappeared about 30,000 years ago) and these new findings concerning innovations, the scientific world has been set on its ear. We may have to change our view of the Neanderthal as brutish and stupid.

The next exciting task will be to determine what Neanderthal genes do and what, if any, significance they have for present-day people.

Current thought is that the Neanderthal is closer to being a “brother” than a distant cousin.

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