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Science Shows Why You’re Smarter Than a Neanderthal

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posted on Dec, 23 2014 @ 11:23 PM
I want to share some examples of Neanderthal showing great feats of mental prowess but first I want to explain what I understand intelligence to be and also show why quantifying it is a flawed approach to understanding its true measure. Intelligence is difficult to measure in terms of physiology. You could have a seemingly less complex system be better suited for certain environments. A simpler design doesnt mean less intelligent. If you can still do what a complex and "more advanced" system can do then you are SMARTER for doing more with less. OR there is no correlation between design and function as far as intelligence as long as the minds purpose is fulfilled.

Structure is an adaptation of the system and as such is not definitive of the system but rather is derivative of it. Function is the primary aspect of intelligence. If the function is completed then intelligence exits. If that much is true, then quantifying it would not negate that no matter the measure of it according to what ever scale we set.


THEY may have been partial to a chunky slab of meat, but very early on Neanderthals also had a taste for fine dining treats like fish and small birds. The findings show that our long-lost cousins were cognitively advanced from the get-go, long before modern humans appeared in Europe.

Discoveries of jewellery and make-up at 50,000-year-old sites show that around the time they went extinct Neanderthals had a taste for the finer things in life. Now that evidence has been pushed back to their first appearance in Europe.

Bruce Hardy of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Marie-Hélène Moncel of France's Natural History Museum in Paris analysed residues on stone tools found at Payre in southern France, which was occupied by Neanderthals between 125,000 and 250,000 years ago. They found traces of fish scales, feathers, wood, hide and starch, indicating that their owners were fishing, hunting small birds, processing wood and hides, and eating vegetables (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023768). That goes against the view, still held by some, that Neanderthals hunted large game but were not capable of subtler tasks like spearing fish and catching birds.

Also, while they had weapons, whether they had projectile weapons is controversial. They had spears, made of long wooden shafts with spearheads firmly attached, but some think these were thrusting spears and not projectiles. Still, a Levallois point embedded in an animal vertebra shows an angle of impact suggesting that it entered by a "parabolic trajectory" suggesting that it was the tip of a projectile.

Moreover, a number of 400,000-year-old wooden projectile spears were found at Schöningen in northern Germany. These are thought to have been made by the Neanderthals’ ancestors, Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis. Generally, projectile weapons are more commonly associated with H. sapiens. The lack of projectile weaponry may be an indication of different sustenance methods, rather than inferior technology or abilities. The situation is identical to that of native New Zealand Māori—modern Homo sapiens, who also rarely threw objects, but used spears and clubs instead.

Neanderthals also performed many sophisticated tasks normally associated only with modern humans. For example, they controlled fire, constructed complex shelters, and skinned animals. A trap excavated at La Cotte de St Brelade in Jersey gives testament to their intelligence and success as hunters.[30]

Particularly intriguing is a hollowed-out bear femur with holes that may have been deliberately bored into it, known as the Divje Babe flute. This bone was found in western Slovenia in 1995, near a Mousterian fireplace, but its significance is still disputed. Some paleoanthropologists hypothesize it was a musical instrument, others believe it was not the work of Neanderthals, or that the chomping action of another bear made the holes.

Pendants and other jewelry showing traces of ochre dye and of deliberate grooving have also been found with later finds, particularly in France, but whether they were created by Neanderthals or traded to them by Cro-Magnons is a matter of controversy.

Burial practices
Although much has been made of the Neanderthals' burial of their dead, their burials were less elaborate than those of anatomically modern humans. The interpretation of the Shanidar IV burials as including flowers, and therefore being a form of ritual burial,[ has been questioned. On the other hand, five of the six flower pollens found with Shanidar IV are known to have had 'traditional' medical uses, even among relatively recent 'modern' populations. In some cases Neanderthal burials include grave goods, such as bison and aurochs bones, tools, and the pigment ochre although the evidence for this is disputed.

Body paint
A 2009 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on two archaeological sites in the Murcia province of southern Spain records the discovery of shells showing pigment residues, and concludes that these were used by the Neanderthals as make-up containers. Sticks of the black pigment manganese have previously been discovered in Africa. These may have been used as body paint by Neanderthals.According to one study, Neanderthal use of pigments including red ochre was restricted to interglacial periods, disappearing during glacial periods.

Cave art
Recent new dating techniques of cave art has suggested the possibility Neanderthals were cave painters. Many cave paintings are much older than previously thought, and possibly pre-date the arrival of H. sapiens.Symbolism or simple art work has been found in 2012, inside the Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar; it may have been a sign indicating to others that the cave was already inhabited.

While some Neanderthals used caves for shelter, the Molodova archaeological site in eastern Ukraine suggests others built dwellings using animal bones. A building was made of mammoth skulls, jaws, tusks and leg bones, and had 25 hearths inside.

They made music, homes, gardened, fished, buried their dead, had some form of spirituality, were prolific wood carvers, built tools and equipment, decorated themselves and their things....had emotions and sentiment as well ....these were people like us. They were closer to us than we can ever imagine IMO. We are not smarter. We came late in the game and only represent a variation to an already viable design. They had intelligence like us. For all we know their fertility rate dropped and only female neanderthal were able to reproduce by interbreeding with modern humans. Maybe they didnt die out because they were too stupid to survive nature or us. Maybe they were smart enough to interbreed with the other genetically diverse people as a means of survival in the face of such a situation. That would be a smart move on their part. We would do that in their shoes.

There is evidence for greater pairings of female neanderthal with male HS than vice-versa. Either we conquered the more robust and powerful species and out bred the males or they just started to look for more fertile partners. A simple disease could have made males infertile. Intelligence may not be a factor in their extinction.

edit on 12 23 2014 by tadaman because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 02:47 AM

originally posted by: WakeUpBeer
a reply to: borntowatch

Please tell us how any of your beliefs regarding the age of the Earth or the diversity of life, are observable, testable, and repeatable. We can leave religion out of it and stick to the facts. In other threads I have seen you say you have studied, and you have done research. It would be a welcomed change of pace for you to start backing up your position with scientific evidence (that is ofc observable, testable, and repeatable) instead of attacking the conclusions and findings of the larger scientific community. I've noticed you like to shift the burden of proof away from yourself by acting as if you have nothing to prove. Wrong. With all the claims I've seen you make in various threads about how "evolutionists" have it wrong, you absolutely do!

Do I think the Smithsonian Institute are liars? I don't know and I don't care. I don't read their magazines or articles. Only once have I been to a Smithsonian exhibit. I did enjoy it (saw a lot of items from history). When I read an article I know it's just that, an article. There isn't going to be a lot of real meat, if any, to be garnered from reading a few paragraphs let alone a headline. If I find something in an article I find interesting, I dig deeper and do more research.

Sadly my study and research has come up with nothing definitive, the burden of proof lies with the ones making statements. I dont have anything to prove, I have a default position that you dislike.

Please understand that I am not saying that evolutionists have it wrong, I am saying the evidence is untestable and assumed, not something I can put my faith in.

So the Smithsonian is not reputable? Do I understand you correctly.
Maybe you dont know or care, so why do you, here, against me, evolution, creation.
Dont say you dont care, clearly you do, just not at the credibility of the Smithsonian.

posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 03:11 AM

originally posted by: peter vlar

originally posted by: borntowatch
I dont need to read the whole paper to see its unscientific, that it is assumption and conjecture.

But you do. It's like looking at the color red and emphatically stating that there is no full spectrum of colors, that red is all there is.

But you're demanding that evidence based on your offense at the headline of an article printed by Smithsonian Mag and not the crux of the work. If you find fault in the data presented in the article, that is totally acceptable. But as you go onto mention in your following comment, 'the formula of science' which you expect to be applied to your comments is not being given in the first place. Not in my opinion at least. Scientists are wrong all the time. And its not always a bad thing. In school I learned just as much from my errors as I did from what I was correct about. When we research something and it doesn't pan out, that often sends us on the correct path because we now know where NOT to look or focus.

Thus, the onus is indeed upon you to hold yourself to the standard you require of others whom you debate and back up your assertions with the science. If there are actual errors, please point them out. To simply state that it is unscientific, it is conjecture and assumption doesn't make for a good argument.

The paper states nothing but assumption and opinion, its baseless, its valuless. It has no evidence to support it, show me the evidence, the experiment the conclusion, it has nothing to do with me proving it wrong, if its science the onus is on evidence, just call it what it is, religion, faith, belief
I don't believe either Hans or myself argues for you to prove it wrong, we simply asked you to support your statements with what specifically you found wrong with the science. After doing the dosey do repeatedly you're answer is pretty stock at this point so there really isn't much discussion to be had I guess if you're going to stick with your interpretation of the evidence or its lack thereof as opposed to pointing out specifics in the work.

This is something we are going to have to agree to disagree on. You believe there is no substance, I believe there may be. This is after all preliminary research and while supported, is just hypothetical at this point. Does the research need more work, more teeth to it, absolutely. As someone who spent the better part of 2 decades researching HSN and began my graduate work with them as the basis, you're barking up the wrong tree if you think I'm of the mindset that they were our intellectual inferiors.

That is not at all the correlation being made in the paper though. It is specifically about what areas of their brains vs AMH were adapted towards visual aspects as opposed to social skills. It's not about intelligence, it's about what made one successful enough to survive past the 28KYA-40KYA mark(depending on which research you favor).

I've seen it and I do believe that earlier in this thread I actually agreed with you that size and cranial capacity is equitable with intelligence. I also pointed out the correlation between brain size and body mass which is quite poignant when discussing primates. Another good example in relation to that would be H Floresiensis who while diminutive in size, were likely just as smart as any contemporary hominids based on their lithic technology.

That was not the contention being made though. both Hans and I were curious, specifically what you felt was lacking on the science end of things because you argue so vehemently based primarily on the title of a Smithsonian Mag article giving the impression you had at best merely glossed over some of the paper and at worst read none of it. Ironcially, you're statement regarding arguing against nothing, a vacuum, a belief, a religion is the basis for many of our disagreements/discussions on this board. I'm not trying to make this a personal attack, just making an observation on what I perceive as extremely ironic.

Neanderthals had big eyes so we think we are smarter than them.

But that isn't actually what the point of the paper is, you're getting that entirely off of what I fully admit is a sensationalistic headline created by a journalist to grab peoples attention.

What the paper is stating is that because a larger percentage of their brain was used in creating a larger visual cortex that compared to AMH, what was left, gave them less area for things like social skills or organization. The hypothesis being presented is that our social structures are what made AMH more successful in the long run than HSN. Personally, I'm not fully convinced that this is the whole story. I personally believe from my own research that there are many facets and factors into what allowed HSS to eventually become the sole surviving member of humanity when only a few tens of thousands of years ago there were several branches of our family tree coexisting simultaneously. Neanderthal was in decline already when AMH finally made its way into Eurasia and additionally, as I mentioned back on page 1, there are specific instances where AMH not just cooperated with but learned from HSN living in the Levant.

Hey look drink the cool aid I dont really mind what floats your boat, its dishonest to call it science

not at all, it's dishonest to say its not science based on the headline of a magazine article without looking into the actual research first. Again, this paper is a hypothesis, its not an addition to evolutionary theory nor is it as you stated earlier, fitting the theory to the puzzle pieces which don't belong(I'm paraphrasing here so if I am wrong on that statement please feel free to point it out).

You know Peter overall I think what you say is generally fair and accurate.

Please let me point out I am not denying the possibility that Neanderthals were of greater or lesser intelligence than modern man.
I also understand why this research is important, the need for it to be discussed.
My issue is with the assumption based finding's and the Smithsonian headline.

Yes the paper was accurate in detailing its reason and explaining its hypothesis and it could be a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence provided. Sadly the evidence is so tenuous that it leaves itself open to ridicule and rightly so.

As far as I understand the paper is not stating "a larger percentage of their brain was used in creating a larger visual cortex"
its stating that "based on the skull shape a larger percentage of their brain was used in creating a larger visual cortex"
Though neither statement is proven with any scientific evidence
Thats my issue, then throw in the clearly misleading headline by the Smithsonian, not an organisation I would have considered to suffer tabloid journalism, not an organisation that doesnt have editors.

posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 03:21 AM

originally posted by: peter vlar
a reply to: borntowatch

So instead of addressing any of the science from the paper you're still harping on a jrnalistic construction. The science isn't sensationalized, its in the paper which you continue to ignore. As that is the case, and I attempted to be courteous here and allow you to address the science or address a direct inquirtpy, fthere clearly is not anything to discus further because if you bothered reading the paper, the science is observable, repeatable and testable so you either don't understand it or simp,y don't care and can't be bothered to read it. That's what is sad about this entire endeavor. If you ever feel like coming up for air and want to educate yourself and discuss the science feel free. Until then, the festival of Sol Invictus nears us so e joy your holiday.

Here is your chance Peter, please show me the science that instigated the conclusion of the paper.
Once I fully understand the science that has helped make this conclusion, then I may be able to counter it.

Now just to clarify, I ask sincerely with no agenda, sincerely with a hope to learn, sincerely with an attempt to address the conclusion of the paper, the paper that I have read.

Now all the science that I have seen to back up the claims made are based on cranium shape, please explain what i may have missed.
If what you are asking is based purely on cranium shape then....I dont see the necessity...but just for fun I could throw in a couple of hypothesis based on some evidence I havnt yet seen but could find in time, not that I should have to as I am not making a statement, I am questioning the validity and a supposed scientific statement.
edit on b2014Wed, 24 Dec 2014 03:25:35 -0600123120143am312014-12-24T03:25:35-06:00 by borntowatch because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 01:25 PM
a reply to: kayej1188

Thanks. I thought it was an interesting counter-point to make. Although the olfactory senses caught my attention, there might have been other compensations that mediated the loss of 'real estate.'

Who knows? Perhaps the increased visual acuity of Neanderthals generated heightened sensitivity to facial and body-language cues? This could result in more social interaction.

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