Neanderthals: Smarter than us?

Neanderthal at Neanderthal Museum, Germany. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Neanderthal at Neanderthal Museum, Germany.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sophisticated paintings indicate that Neanderthals could have matched human intelligence, analysts claim.

The discovery of “exquisite horses and outlines of bison” in a Spanish cave suggests that mankind’s poorly-regarded relations were capable of abstract thought, according to research in the science journal ‘Nature’. The artworks were thought to be a product of early humans, but new dating technologies indicate they are over 40,000 years old and may have originated from before humans lived in Europe.

This follows the recent discovery of sophisticated tools and ornaments that contradicted the primitive depiction of Neanderthals. “They could innovate on their own,” said study author Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado Denver. “My research suggests that they were a different kind of human, but humans nonetheless.”

The Neanderthal brain was larger than man’s, although it was believed that large parts were devoted to vision and simple function, producing different thought processes. But recent discoveries have led to a new debate on the species’ capacity and even efforts to clone one for public interest purposes, This has had the support from Harvard genetics professor George Church, who claimed that “Neanderthals think differently than we do. They could even be more intelligent than us.”

Another assumption about human intelligence was challenged this week by research claiming that IQs are dropping. The well-known Flynn effect holds that IQ grows three points per decade, but researchers from Umea University, Sweden found that subjects were on average 14 points lower than counterparts from the 19th Century.


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