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Did intelligence come from Neanderthals?

janesix
Posts: 3,435
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4/10/2015 11:37:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Humans first mated with Neanderthals 50,000 years ago.

http://www.livescience.com... " rbred.html

There was also a sudden change in human behavior 50,000, with advances in tool use and art (cave paintings etc).

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Did the interbreeding with Neanderthals, with their bigger brains, help us grow in innovation and intelligence?
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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4/10/2015 2:17:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 11:37:17 AM, janesix wrote:
Did the interbreeding with Neanderthals, with their bigger brains, help us grow in innovation and intelligence?
It's hard to see so, Jane.

Firstly, it should be acknowledged that humans interbreeding with Neanderthals is under question at the moment (e.g. see [http://www.newscientist.com...].) The issue appears to be that while there is some genes in common, there isn't as much evidence as biologists would expect if there were hybridisation. Moreover, it can also be explained by pre-existing genetic overlap. [http://www.pnas.org...]

But secondly, any interbreeding, if it occurred, could have happened only outside Africa:
hundreds of Neanderthal sites have been excavated. These show that Neanderthals occupied much of modern-day Eurasia, from the British Isles to Siberia, and from the Red Sea to the North Sea. Here they survived 200,000 years or more of climatic chaos before eventually disappearing around 30,000 years ago.
Robert Adler, Are you really smarter than a Neanderthal?, New Scientist, 06-Dec-10 [http://www.newscientist.com...]
Yet human tool-use appeared in Africa also.

And lastly, there's still some scientific controversy over how smart Neanderthals were. They were fire-users (though not the first hominins to use fire.) They were tool-users, including tools for processing leather and making glue, though more sophisticated human tools came into existence later. They may have been musicians -- there's a possible bone flute at one fire-site, but that's contested. They may have been clothes-wearers, though there's no direct evidence of clothes -- just evidence of processing leather.

But Neanderthals and humans had about 500,000 years each to evolve separately. While their brains are thought to have been similar at birth, they're believed to have developed differently in the first year of life. Some scientists think they lacked the ability to innovate and perform abstract thought. And there's some contention over why Neanderthals had such a small breeding population (perhaps only 3,500 individuals in any generation [http://www.newscientist.com...], while African humans were more abundant.)

As to what they did with their large cranium-space, I don't know. :) But they didn't leave a bigger repertoire of tools and art than early humans.