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Neanderthals less 'creative' than humans
November 8th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Neanderthals less 'creative' than humans

We recently learned Ozzy Osbourne apparently has some genetic traces of Neanderthal in him, and now scientists are finding out even more about this extinct human relative.

The modern human brain and the Neanderthal brain began at about the same size at birth, but their skulls show that they began developing very differently within the first year of life, scientists say.

Neanderthals evolved more than 400,000 years ago, lived as hunter-gatherers in Europe and Asia, and went extinct about 30,000 years ago.

Judging by the archaeological record, Neanderthals were well-adapted to their particular environment, but they were not as creative in terms of hunting strategies or artwork – for example, they apparently did not make cave paintings the way their human contemporaries did.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology scanned Neanderthals skulls and compared them with modern human skulls. Their results are published in the journal Current Biology.

Subtle changes in the early phases of brain development can have a huge impact on social cognition, communication, and how creative members of a species are, said study author Philipp Gunz of the  Planck Institute.

The pattern of brain development described in the study may point to a diminished inclination to communicate through art, and possibly also help explain why modern humans had advantages over Neanderthals, he said.

"If you are an artist you have to understand symbols, you have to understand meaning, you have to look at the world in the certain way, and it seems that Neanderthals, for 200,000 years, didn’t feel like it," Gunz said.

Modern humans had a higher reproduction rate, and were more flexible in terms of their hunting strategies, he said.

But before we feel too good about ourselves, remember that Neanderthals actually roamed the Earth longer than our own species, Homo sapiens.

"It's not like we can look down on them. We haven't made it that far yet," Gunz said. "Their extinction, I would say, is not a direct consequence of this particular brain development pattern." But the cognitive differences may explain biologically why modern humans showed this creativity and flexibility in their behavior, he said.

Neanderthals had difficult living conditions, inhabiting Europe during the most recent Ice Age. In fact, for most of their time as a species, Neanderthals were on the border of extinction, Gunz said. They ate meat and hunted, and were probably social people who could communicate.

Back when humans and Neanderthals both lived in Europe, population density was low; there were only about 100,000 people on the continent, Gunz said. The first interactions between Neanderthals and humans could have occurred when both species were in the Middle East about 90,000 years ago or less, he said.

It's not certain if there was conflict or harmony between the two species, but there was most likely some interaction and interbreeding. A paper in May in the journal Science estimated that 1 to 4 percent of the modern human genome of non-Africans can be traced back to the Neanderthal

As scientists continue to study the Neanderthal genome, they will learn even more about this creature that seems to have something in common with many of us, not just Ozzy.

Photo: a representation of Neanderthals at the Museum for Prehistory in Eyzies-de-Tayac, France.


soundoff (1,065 Responses)
  1. cicisbo

    Psh... whatever. This was the first species to bury their dead, and to do so with flowers as well as other belongings. Just because Neanderthals didn't do artsy fartsy crud, doesn't make them less creative than home sapiens.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • evoc

      Yep, they were busy living, didn't have time to hang around the cave and paint on the walls.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • Kimo

      I agree. Those Cro-Magnon were elitist snobs (probably Liberals).

      November 8, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • justincase

      I agree the level of creativity would be hard to understand scientifically if they just using the remains of Neaderthal children for these reasons 1. How do they know by the shape of a brain cavity how the higher cognitive skills developed? 2. The fact that the "art work" showed less symbolism can still be atttibuted to how much "free time" the species had. If the theroys that neaderthal man need many more calories to support it's large muscular structure it would mean they had less time to actually develop this creative skill not that they didn't have it. 3. The whole idea of what neaderthals were in relationship to Homo Sapians is changing almost daily I will wait for a while to see what is learned. When I grew up the theroy was they were sluggish and stupid and had no language, no concept of death, no attachment to art of any sort or any religion all of those concepts are now being pushed aside by new discoverys.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • justincase

      Sorry "Theory" spelling correction.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Robert W.

      Maybe they did sand art or painted on paper like we do now. I don't generally paint pictures on the walls of my house.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • viklaysk

      "Just because Neanderthals didn't do artsy fartsy crud, doesn't make them less creative than home sapiens."

      Then what does it mean?

      November 8, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • O157:H7

      In other news, a Cro-magnon grave has yielded a black, silk t-shirt and brie crusts. Film at eleven.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      totally agree. If these people spent most of their existence barely surviving then they didn't have time to mix paints. They were too busy SURVIVING. That they did so, for so long, in such a harsh climate is, in and of itself, a sign of creativity. Together they figured out 1) how to make fire (which requires gathering wood, rocks, and moss and finding a relatively dry spot to light it). 2) how to hunt (which requires the making of spears, spear heads (no mean feat in and of itself), tracking the animals) before ambushing and killing them. 3) How to turn their kills into goods. They didn't just eat and leave. First they had to take the animal back to camp (or maybe make camp where the animal was killed). Then it was skinned (which requires some very fine tools), the meat was cooked, and the teeth and bones were removed (to make weapons).

      It was A LOT of work. I doubt that modern humans could do it half as well.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      So back to Neanderthals? They may live well now in California, protected as endangered species and some such.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • formosa

      I agree with you. Neanderthals were known to use pigment and tattoo on their body, and they have the same FOX2 gene that gives us speech. If they can speak and express themselves thru tattoo, I can hardly make a case that they are less creative than human just because they don't like leaving graffitis on the wall. This article failed to mention that the wall paintings occurred long after Neanderthals went extinct. It took homo sapiens thousands of years to figure out they need to paint the cave walls. Perhaps that part of the behavior came out as a necessity rather than creativity.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • Evolution is scientifically inaccurate

      We did not evolve. Link with irrefutable logic. http://www.newgeology.us/presentation32.html

      November 8, 2010 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • Philip Hades

      To put it country simple they always had to work harder because they couldn't work smarter.
      It's not simply a matter of not being able to paint, it's mentally flexibility. The ability to change and evolve ones way of thinking, develop ever more complex social and technological methods. That's why they were busy just surviving for so long, and probably why they disappeared when more modern humans came along.

      November 18, 2010 at 21:05 | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Just saw a guy at the post office who looked just like the guy in the picture above. Are you sure they're extinct?

    November 8, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      One wonders sometimes.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Blob

      Right. And, Klingons liked to swim more than Ferengi. Fairies are also known for being more photogenic than Trolls. Let's just make up stuff as we go along. Gotta love what they have done with Anthropology. Its just a big joke!

      November 8, 2010 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
  3. bravado in boston

    So modern humans are Elitist, Progressives....interesting thought.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bob

    Ok, Richard, you don't know what you are talking about. Your comment is about as racist and stupid as I have seen.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. E.Ham

    In view of the environment they lived in, the Neanderthals were remarkably successful. I suspect that they died out due to pressure from the smarter, more organized humans that were our direct ancestors. Contact between the groups probably ended in conflict over available resources rather than cooperation. Any interbreeding was likely very limited, perhaps due to rape and pillage, something that humans are quite good at.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      Why wouldn't they interbreed? They certainly would have had no concept of the problems associated with it. Humans were interbreeding willingly (and not from lack of other humans) in Egypt 3000 years ago.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • musings

      It is also very hard to tally up their permanent contributions if they were made out of wood. Also, how harsh were their living conditions during the various Ice Ages (they went through several of them over their 400,000 year reign in Europe and Asia)? How much was lost to moving ice masses? If we have the cave paintings of our Cro Magnon ancestors, might it also be due to the fact that they were created during a milder period, when materials for making them were easier to obtain and sheer survival was more assured. I am worried that we are using the sort of biased value judgments Nazis employed. That this has become socially acceptable to discourse I blame on our frankly racist age.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      I suspect Neanderthal's died out form illnesses contracted while in direct contact with modern humans. We know from recent history the impact of diseases carried from europe had on native americas where upwards of 90% of the population died. Those few that did survive devaloped immunity to the diseases and passed the immunity to preceeding gererations. Neanderthals likely were not as fortunate resulting in their extension. The lack of physical evidence of conflict between the two species to me lead to the conclusion that illness drove their numbers down to the point that they could no longer sustain themselves as a species.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      @Gary, Apples and oranges.

      The living environments were totally different and the people involved were equally different. The European settlers had such highly evolved immune systems because the home they had emigrated from was so disease ridden. Europe was overpopulated, and filthy beyond belief. The Native Americans, who had a reasonably clean living environment and lifestyle (aside from the frequent wars) never stood a chance.

      The humans and neanderthals were different though. They had similar lifestyles and lived on the similar. There might have been some problems with diseases but it would have gone both ways.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • Philip Hades

      You mean they died out because they were unable to think creatively enough to compete with more modern humans? Someone should write an article about that....

      November 18, 2010 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
  6. speekers

    Actually, both are species of humans. We are homo sapiens sapiens, and Neanderthals are listed as homo sapiens neantheralinsis. And yes, there has been proof for years of interbreeding – think of it like different dog breeds. Now, whether that interbreeding was voluntary or not is up for speculation.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KDW

      Human only refers to homo sapien sapien. All others are different species of homo sapien, also can be referred to as different types of hominids. Saying all homo sapiens are human would be like saying all leopards are tigers since both are felidae panthera. Though one is f. p. pardus and the other is f. p. tigris. (yes I used wikipedia not that knowledgeable on scientific names)

      November 8, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • A. Nony

      We are called homo sapiens and the Neandertals are called homo neandertalensis. (Actually our calling ourselves homo sapiens, or "wise man", is pretty arrogant. I prefer homo sap. Or maybe homo improvidensis.) With this nomenclature, we and the Neandertals are of a different species, but the same genus. The best estimate is that our line and the Neandertal line diverged about 400,000 years ago. The latest genetic information suggests some cross-breeding with fertile offspring, which is not supposed to be possible, by definition, between members of different species. However, taxonomy is not an exact science. For example, it has been argued that we should be put in the same genus as the great apes.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
  7. rand

    The neanderthal genome is based on incomplete results from one individual and we probably shared a common ancester anyway, so all this talk of anyone having neanderthal ancestry is junk science. Don't waste your money.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KDW

      I don't completely understand the genetic research, but I don't think you're right about this. My understanding it that they can tell, to some extent, when genetic material was added or mutated in the genome. It has something to do with looking at the surrounding genes, genetic drift and using mathematical formulas to gauge the age of genes. This is how they have been able to give an estimate as to when some humans began to be able to tolerate lactose into adulthood.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
    • There were no Neanderthals.

      RAND: You hit it right on the head. This is not true science. People will believe all kinds of nonsense.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
  8. bang'

    They show them wearing clothes in the picture. He's pretty fashionable in that deep v neck. Now thats creative.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LouAz

    Perhaps Richard really means the Republican/TP Flat Earth Party. You hear them talk all the time about the good old days.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. A guest

    They probably elected the wrong person for president, were saddled with out-of-control government spending, joblessness, a bad healthcare bill, and just died out.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Another Guest

      Or maybe they died out becuase they spent so much time whining about said president that they forgot to hunt and gather.

      November 8, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      @Another Guest. Amen! Whatever happened to doing for ourselves?

      November 8, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  11. musings

    How do you define progress? I think nobody doubts that Andes civilization was complex up until 500 years ago, when it was invaded. Ever been to a museum and viewed some of their stuff? Or to the produce aisles at the grocery store. And this is just for starters. I know a bit less about Africa, but African-Americans and Caribbean descendants of slaves have been some of the most creative people on the planet – and apparently none of them are as Neanderthal as the Eurasians.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Russell in Tenafly

    They were adapted just fine. They could hunt other animals and make their own shelter. There lack of creativity wasn't why they went extinct. We killed them all off. It was plain old racial hatred, which is still in plentiful supply. I assume we made plenty of them slaves for a while, too.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Oh thank you oh keeper of time, whatever would we do without your incite!

      November 8, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      That's a great opinion you have there. Could we have killed them all off? Sure. Could we have out competed them for food and resources? Sure. Could we have reproduced with some of them and assimilated them into our own people? Sure. It would be no different than how humans have killed off big predators on all the continents they have entered that were without humans initially (the Americas and Australia are two good examples). Humans came to these new places killed off lots of the large herbivores that were not wary of us. This left less food for the large predators and we also probably killed some of them as well. Neanderthals were competitors for our food and resources. We out competed them somehow though it does not necessarily mean we purposefully killed them all through warfare. There are many unanswered questions, and I don't think you know the answers.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      Actually, we didn't kill them off, we interbred with them. Northern European Caucasian races have a pretty heavy dose of Neanderthal DNA in our genetic code.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Um

      It seems like the missing link can be found in the white man seeing as how they are bunch of grunting, wife-beating violent meatheads.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Philip Hades

      If they had the ability to be more creative they could have adapted to compete. However they lacking the ability to create new hunting, defensive, or offensive measures they disappeared. Creativity is about more than drawing pictures.

      November 18, 2010 at 21:16 | Report abuse |
  13. tony

    they didn't have time to do artistic things they were to busy hunting and food gathering to survive. Proof being artist today dont have to forage for food, just go to Mcd's get a burger and make a drawing. In 90,000 years someone will look at this junk hanging in todays galleries and museums and say how primitive we were. Picasso couldn't even stay in the lines when he was painting.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Richard

    Just clarify, I'm referring to cultures that made no significant advancement in-terms of anything we would define as progressive. Sciences (any of them), basic technologies for building, food and animal domestication, etc. This does not pertain to all of Africa or North-South America, but large portions of each. Neither area made any real progress until outside influences began to move them forward.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Lee

    I bet put side by side, Us humans as we are now and the Neanderthals as they were then would still have a better chance of surviving because they didn't rely on modern day devices, and comforts. They worked hard, they hunted, didn't waste their time on tv and computers. They worked and they survived. I can't imagine what would happen if we were put in their situation. I think we would be extinct.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. musings

    Richard, there is something about Power which you just do not get. If someone moves into an area and they have greater military power, part of the game is to enforce stagnation on the culture there. Rarely is local initiative tolerated. As was said of the Romans – "They made a devastation and they called it peace." So yes, "progress" stops. Your premise seems to be that conquering armies can go somewhere and allow "self-determination." This is what both Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush believed. I don't think the Conquistadores or Colonial Powers bothered with that self-delusion.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Brad

    I love how that comment is taken as a racist comment, when it is fact. Certain parts of the would did evolve faster than others, and that make it a valid question, why? We know that as far as brains go, there are no differences between the races, so why did we evole differently? In my opinion, it has to do with the stresses a group endures. Huge areas of Africa are very dry, hard to farm, that would have made the people more nomadic in lifestyle, allowing for less time to sit around thinking of new things. Even in South America, that is the case, jungle soil is very poor for growing crops on, but you wouldn't have to go as far to find food like you would in Africa. I wish they would do more studies on this. Oh, and the big one, religion, religion has stunted every group out there.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sarah Palin is a Twit

    It's not hard to figure out where the teabaggers came from. Just look at the above photo.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • hebramleigh

      And it's apparent where most of the vulgar, venom-filled hate comes from in politics: liberals. You can't even comment on a science article without insulting people you don't agree with. But then, that's useful when you can't defend your beliefs using logical, reasoned arguments...

      November 8, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
  19. iMacMike

    Neanderthal was arguably the most advanced Homo Sapiens offshoot until Cro Magnon (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) appeared just 40,000 years ago. Our genomes are 99.8% similar, meaning we are closer to Neanderthal than any other pre-human we've managed to extract DNA from. It's not surprising that some genetic material could be transferred through interbreeding. I wouldn't call them less creative... I think they just had much different priorities. Neanderthal survived in climates that would make a modern human break down and cry. I don't think they had the luxury of trying to figure out their creative side... that would be a waste of valuable time and resources. It's hard to spend a whole day carving a cute little figurine when your belly is empty. The most likely demise of Neanderthal was disease, probably influenza or smallpox carried by Cro Magnons as they moved north. It's not a stretch... look at the Mayans and Inca's after the Spaniards landed, or the American Indians after northern Europeans came here. They brought diseases the local populations had never been exposed to and couldn't adapt to fast enough to survive.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WOW

      Thanks Mike for sharing that fairy tale with us. Can you also explain tomorrow what happened to the Leprechauns in great detail with zero facts to back it up? Thanks! Can't wait!

      November 8, 2010 at 18:06 | Report abuse |
    • A. Nony

      Influenza and smallpox (and measles and many other diseases) are derived from animals, and did not appear in humans (sap or neandertal) until the Agricultural Revolution, about 10,000 years ago (at which time neandertals had been extinct for perhaps 20,000 years). The diseases jumped from animals to humans when humans started to keep animals (cattle, sheep, fowl) and found a good breeding ground when humans started living close together in large numbers.

      November 8, 2010 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
    • Philip Hades

      But modern humans displaced Neanderthals in those very desperate environs. How? They hunted smarter, they gathered smarter, they fought smarter. Creativity isn't just about carving idols, it's about coming up with lighter sharper spears and thinking tactically.

      November 18, 2010 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
  20. Matrix

    Neanderthals ARE homo sapiens.... homo sapiens neandertalinsis. Modern humans are homo sapiens sapiens.

    Interbreeding? Doubtful. Intermating? Certainly.

    But the studies that show modern humans having common DNA traits with Neanderthals seems to be drawing improper conclusions from evidence, though I guess I have not read their full studies. It would be obvious that we have DNA in common with Neanderthals considering we are both homo sapiens species. Those similarities are more likely to be from common homo sapiens ancestry as opposed to interbreeding.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Richard

    The idea that invaders in the 1500's somehow stultified cultures in non-European areas really has no bearing on what happened in the thousands of years preceding the occupations, does it? Humans were in Africa for 60,000 years. North and South American for at least 12,000 years.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CosmicC

      Seriously, you need to do some research. European conquerors did not just halt change in local culture, they explicitly purged all evidence of anything that challenged European supremacy. This included burning almost all evidence of written language and purposeful destruction of monumental architecture. At the time of conquest Tenochtitlan was probably the largest city in the world. European civic and economic structures were not capable of supporting a city anywhere near that size. Domesticated crops from the Americas, including corn and potatoes, helped transform European economies. If you have any questions about engineering advances in the Americas, just look at Central and South American cities and the Incan road system.

      November 8, 2010 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
    • A. Nony

      Richard: Please read "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond!

      November 8, 2010 at 19:04 | Report abuse |
  22. Ernesto

    I do not recall reading that Neanderthals had variations in their Genome sufficient to characterize them as a distinct species, apart from humans. Segregated gene pools (by geography) combined with disease may explain some of the phenotypic (physical) variations (skull size, prominent forehead, size, etc, intelligence) we observe. Even today there is evidence of marked variations in phenotypes in humans solely based on normal genetic variations and disease. The medical condition called Gigantism, to take just one example can result in gross malformations of the skeletal system. Nutritional variations can also result in stunted growth, bone diseases, intellectual impairment, etc., etc. In my opinion, until convincing genetic data is unearthed (literally) that demonstrates genetic differences (>0.1%) between the human and Neanderthal genomes, there will always be skepticism as to whether they Neanderthals constitute a different species or just variations based on other biological and pathological factors.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Robert W.

    Are they saying that all human families have creative inclinations? That seems a bit silly. We all have difernet interest and skills.

    November 8, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Greg

    From what I gather, you are suggesting that the reason races of people from poorer parts of the world haven't become as "advanced" is because they lack the capability for such innovative thought. This is racism. Period. There are many factors that govern how a society evolves including natural resources, geography and climate as well as human factors including competition for resources/influence, religious beliefs etc. To argue that they did not develop advanced technology because they are biologically inferior is dumb.

    Also, you should really read up on some of the remarkable advancements made by native cultures in Pre-Columbian America, particularly in the fields of astronomy, engineering and agriculture. In fact, the process by which the Incans were able to cultivate the potato from it's poisonous relatives ( in the nightshade family) is still not understood. Furthermore, the export of potatoes to Europe may have changed European society more than any other single crop in history. Educate yourself.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Tim

    Neanderthals are alive and well. They just call themselves Republicans now.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Robin Bray

    What is art?

    November 8, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. brainWashington native

    Finally! The Republican Gene is Identified!

    November 8, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • oljt

      Wrong! Neandy, just like most Democrats, just wanted to live and enjoy life. The Croman came in with the "need for power
      and control" gene, herded up Neandy and tried to breed a race of illegal alien servants,

      November 8, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
  28. Fernando

    I read somewhere that a small, single digit percentage of the Neanderthal genome has been passed on to some (not all) of modern humans. Could this explain some of the political persuasions that seem to be getting even more pronounced recently?

    November 8, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mark Michigan

    i can't help but wonder how modern day republicans compare to neanderthals. they are not very creative either. republicans couldn't come up with any plans these past 2 years.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JOHN

      Amazing words comming from the liberal pit of Michigan.

      November 8, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
  30. NorCalMojo

    I'm not ready to believe this just yet, the theories on Neanderthals seem to be pretty fluid. Here, they're literally drawing a conclusion based on lack of evidence. Archeologists get myopic and start thinking that if they haven't found something, it never existed. The caves protected the artwork so we found it. If it was out in the open, or on a degradable surface, we wouldn't have found it. That doesn't mean it never happened.

    Based on the same evidence, they'd have to conclude that the cave painters never painted anywhere except in caves. Still, I'm glad they're investigating it. Fascinating stuff.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      Usually, mental limitations are what spell doom for humans and animals, the inability to think creatively to adapt to changing situations. They likely could not compete on any level with humans and that is what killed them off, in the battle for resources.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      You can't believe it because its not true. There is no evidence to support any of this. Its all a theory. They have a tiny bit of a puzzle and try to create an entire picture around it and a reasoning person just cannot accept this. We are all creative.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
  31. Ben

    I don't think they went extinct cause I saw them on the Geiko commercials!

    November 8, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • oljt

      Ever here of Bigfoot? Several years ago National Enquirer (I believe) reported a Bigfoot family living in Cleveland!

      November 8, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  32. Roger

    There is a difference between evolve and advance. You confuse technological advancement with evolution.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Daniel

    People who continue to report that Neanderthals went extinct are simply regurgitating outdated hypotheses, and it is particularly revealing of their lack of intellectual knowledge within anthropological literature.
    The human genome has been coded, and so has a good portion of the Neanderthal genome. There is more evidence (Krings etal 1997) to suggest that there is a connection between modern humans and Neanderthals. Any other arguments are from a standpoint of pure ignorance.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      The only theory that seems to hold water is the over-specialization to the arctic climate. The caloric requirements of Neanderthal was probably much higher than humans and that would have put them at a big disadvantage in a milder climate. Many species disappeared as a result of the end of the ice-age.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • formosa

      Yeah, but Neanderthal and homo sapien are two separate species. Neanderthal DNA is simply out of range compared to our DNA. It's like comparing human average height of 170cm with another humanoid with average height of 200cm. You cannot say we have basketball players taller than 200cm, therefore 200cm is in the range with human. Statistically 200cm may be 10 standard deviations away. Neanderthal DNA is many standard deviation away from human DNA which makes them distinct species from us.

      @James: Finally I see someone with real science behind his posting. Most of the posts here are totally unscientific, garbage, and a lot were filled with inuendo. You're right. Analysis from Neanderthal bones indicated that their diet are 99.99% meat. They hunt large animals which became more scarce during glacial period. Studies on their locomotion suggested they are not good runners, and it would cost them 30% more energy running. But it's not the mild climate that killed them. In fact, the last Neanderthal lived in Gibraltar which had mild climate. Most of Neanderthal else where were probably wiped out by the cold weather. Having less effective population than homo sapiens meant that they were driving to a point in which their population could not recover, whereas homo sapiens lived on.

      This could also be a chance of luck because genetic studies showed that human population were once as low as 1,000 in late Pleistocene. Somehow homo sapiens were able to recover from that catastrophe.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
  34. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Now we know where hth GOP comes from....

    November 8, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. NorCalMojo

    Apparently, most of the posters see this article as a great oppurtunity to dehumanize their political rivals.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. kirk

    When I saw the heading I thought it was about The President.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JB Cal

      You thought? Well, that's where you went wrong.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  37. Daniel

    correction –
    Krings etal 1997 argued that they went extinct, but if you read the paper, they are basing their conclusions on only a fraction of the Neanderthal genome. I'm thinking of Nordborg's response to support the fact that we simply need more data from the Neanderthal genome, which Svante Paabo is actually doing right now.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jon

    Rename them Republithals

    November 8, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. matt

    It is not religion or wealth...or farming that stunts "progress" it is simply lack of horses or other transport animals. The Native Americans and Native Australians lacked horses and transport animals. Parts of Africa as well. Without these animals ideas and thought are limited to only locals.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. YosemiteDave

    Good point. There is no question that some cultures are more innovative then others and if we don't have the honestty to fess up to that fact, then we are not open minded at all, we are only deluding ourselves that we are. But South and Central Americans were pretty advanced until the Spanish came along. Their knowledge of math and astronomy was beyond their time. I don't know about Africans though. They just didn't get their act together, or at least not that I know about. They were too bogged down by tribalism.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Cason

    How was that racist? He is referring to certain tribes that haven't changed for thousands of years. THAT'S WHERE THEY ARE.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. James

    I think he is refering to the devolution of TV programming. 21st century TV makes cave painting look fancy.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. yakasha1

    Greg, Bob, Musings, you are *completely* missing what he is saying. Nothing he said was racist, bigoted, or evil. He asked a question. He did not say 1 race is better than any other, or physically or mentally more capable. He merely asked "Are there any biological similarities that may have contributed to or hindered the advancement of different peoples."

    People are different. People evolve in groups due to their surroundings. Some people develop dark skin, some light, some are tall, some are short. Some are more creative, some less so. Some smarter, some not. These traits are commonly shared between members of a particular group. Exploring those differences is not racist.

    November 8, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Lola

    How often have you met or seen someone and thought to yourself, "Throwback"? There are actors who look like they are directly descended from Neanderthals: Ron Perlman, Ted Danson, Luis Guzman (definitely), Kirstie Alley. But there are also people you see on the street, or meet in passing. Something about their features seems primitive. I find it alarming and disturbing. I am a bit disturbed to thank that there are so many "hybrids" among us. (And, yes, i am assuming that I have no Neanderthal in moi.)

    November 8, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      There are a lot of theories as to what might constitute evidence of evolutionary change in humans now, such as shrinking appendages that we no longer need, the fact most people today need correction for vision by the time they are 30, etc. But I find it hard to believe that an add-mixture of human and Neaderthal DNA would allow what must be recessive traits to surface after thousands of years. However, some family pictures might help, in the case of the Ron Perlman's of the world.

      November 8, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      Your lack of imagination indicates that you may very well have quite a bit of Neanderthal in your genes.

      For your information, interbreeding is makes a species BETTER not worse. Look at purebred dogs. The ones with the strictest breed standards are also the dumbest and most prone to genetic health problems. Or if you'd rather have a human example, look at the Spanish Hapsburgs who kept marrying their cousins in order to accumulate more land and power for their family. We're talking about a family tree that did not fork. One that was literally self sustaining for several generations, at least. Their last generation before going extinct (they reached a point where they literally could not have more children) the entire family was a freak show.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Lola? You are dumb.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      Katherine, you are rude as well as offtrack. This has nothing do do with the so-clalled hybrid vigor that is often (incorrectly) attributed to crossbred dogs. Go do some research on that, dear. You aren't worth my time.

      Rich, go blow.

      November 8, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      Right. And referring to people with "primitive" features as throwbacks is polite. Why don't you go find yourself a limpieza and get laid.

      November 11, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
  45. Bill

    ...journal Science estimated that 1 to 4 percent of the modern human genome of non-Africans can be traced back to the Neanderthal. Did it go on to say that 44% of the modern human genome of Africans can be traced back to the Neanderthal?

    November 8, 2010 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • formosa

      No, the report said that Africans have zero Neanderthal genome. The interbreeding happened out of Africa when homo sapiens traveled out of Africa and interacted with the Neanderthal living in there.

      I would be more interested to know how much of "x woman" genome came from our common ancestor. In case you didn't know, a third distinct hominid DNA has been identified this year, different from homo sapien and Neanderthal. This "x woman" shared common anscestor with us about 1.04 million years ago (466,000 years ago with Neanderthal).

      I also hope that we would be able to extract DNA from homo erectus, last survived in Java as late as 27,000 years ago, and from homo floresiensis which lived as recent as 8,000 years ago in Indoesia. Those two would help us get a better picture of human evolution.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
  46. formosa

    Neanderthal survived about 6,000 years later than the article mentioned. The last group of Neanderthal lived in Gibraltar about 24,000 years ago and were said to be very resourceful, hunting various marine animals using different tools. Also, homo sapiens did not start painting walls until Nenderthals were long gone. When Neanderthal and homo sapien co-existed in Europe, they were doing practically the same thing, making practically the same tools. The extinction of Neanderthal were the result of many factors. Neanderthal had much smaller effective population and were greatly fragmented into three sub groups. The population took a hard hit during the worst glacial condition. Some survived and adapted, but the remaining population were too few to avoid extinction.

    Don't forget that homo sapiens also suffered catastrophic event in the late Pleistocene and the population was down to as few as 1,000 according to genetic study. Perhaps were were simply more lucky than our Neanderthal brother.

    November 8, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Arglebargle

    So, basically what the article is saying is, that Neanderthals evolved into Republicans. 😉

    November 8, 2010 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Chris

    Interesting indeed. I did my own research and to my finding, the so called Neanderthal genome found in mordern day humans could just be a similar genome/trait that we just so happen to carry that is either similar or exactly with the same as the Neanderthals. Whereas it's possible that we can identify the genome that indicates that we shared a common ancestry as the Neanderthals...it's basically a hypothisis at this point. Also, just because there is no evidence that our burley relatives didnt do any artwork (and therefore must not have been very creative) is also speculation at this point though it makes for a very good arguement. As a artist myself, whenever my finances are good and I have ALOT of time on my hands, im able to produce artwork that is well thought out. Whenever I may struggle financially, however, my art productivity virtually goes non existant because I have to work over time, just to make ends meet. The same could be said about the Neanderthals and their harsh enviroment, which prompted them to hunt, gather and survive rather than produce artwork on the walls. Im sure if they had the time and resources, they could possibly have done some type of creative expressions themselves.

    November 8, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • formosa

      I'm sorry, but the genetic findings are not open to individual opinion or interpretation. It's more than hypothesis at this point. When Max Planck Institute completed mapping Neanderthal genome and found that non-Africans carry 1-4% of Neanderthal genome, that is not carry-over from common ancestor. Believe me, they know what they are doing. Neanderthal evolved from homo heidelbergensis, while homo sapiens evolved from homo rodesiensis. We're probably genetically closer to homo heidelbergensis than we are with Neanderthal if you can picture the evolutionary chart. Results from Max Planck Institute meant that the genome we carried from Neanderthal were unique to Neanderthal. There was no point mentioning the genome we share with chimpanzee because those genome would be in Neanderthal as well. But we didn't get those genome from Neanderthal for sure.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  49. formosa

    I don't want to be rude but most of the postings here are totally unscientific and worthless. You're free to express your opinions but remember that's just opinion, not scientific fact. This field really belong Max Planck Institute and people like Chris Stringer and they would probably laugh at some of the uneducated postings.

    November 8, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Richard is a Dink

    Don't worry folks. This is typical. Judging by Richard's comment, I would gather he is a pot-bellied greasy white man with no woman ( of course), that lives with his mother and touches himself to pictures of Miley Cyrus and/or Justin Beiber while spouting his cowardly racism on the internet.

    November 8, 2010 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
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