Neanderthals more advanced than previously thought

Sep 21, 2010
Neanderthal
The Reconstruction of the Funeral of Homo neanderthalensis. Captured in the Hannover Zoo. (Via Wikipedia)

For decades scientists believed Neanderthals developed `modern' tools and ornaments solely through contact with Homo sapiens, but new research from the University of Colorado Denver now shows these sturdy ancients could adapt, innovate and evolve technology on their own.

The findings by Julien Riel-Salvatore challenge a half-century of conventional wisdom maintaining that Neanderthals were thick-skulled, primitive `cavemen' overrun and outcompeted by more advanced arriving in Europe from Africa.

"Basically, I am rehabilitating Neanderthals," said Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at UC Denver. "They were far more resourceful than we have given them credit for."

His research, to be published in December's Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, was based on seven years of studying Neanderthal sites throughout Italy, with special focus on the vanished Uluzzian culture.

About 42,000 years ago, the Aurignacian culture, attributed to modern Homo sapiens, appeared in northern Italy while central Italy continued to be occupied by Neanderthals of the Mousterian culture which had been around for at least 100,000 years. At this time a new culture arose in the south, one also thought to be created by Neanderthals. They were the Uluzzian and they were very different.

Riel-Salvatore identified projectile points, ochre, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting at Uluzzian archeological sites throughout southern Italy. Such innovations are not traditionally associated with Neanderthals, strongly suggesting that they evolved independently, possibly due to dramatic changes in climate. More importantly, they emerged in an area geographically separated from modern humans.

"My conclusion is that if the Uluzzian is a Neanderthal culture it suggests that contacts with modern humans are not necessary to explain the origin of this new behavior. This stands in contrast to the ideas of the past 50 years that Neanderthals had to be acculturated to humans to come up with this technology," he said. "When we show Neanderthals could innovate on their own it casts them in a new light. It `humanizes' them if you will."

Thousands of years ago, southern Italy experienced a shift in climate, becoming increasingly open and arid, said Riel-Salvatore. Neanderthals living there faced a stark choice of adapting or dying out. The evidence suggests they began using darts or arrows to hunt smaller game to supplement the increasingly scarce larger mammals they traditionally hunted.

"The fact that Neanderthals could adapt to new conditions and innovate shows they are culturally similar to us," he said. "Biologically they are also similar. I believe they were a subspecies of human but not a different species."

The powerfully built Neanderthals were first discovered in Germany's Neander Valley in 1856. Exactly who they were, how they lived and why they vanished remains unclear.

Research shows they contributed between 1 and 4 percent of their genetic material to the people of Asia and Europe. Riel-Salvatore rejects the theory that they were exterminated by modern humans. Homo sapiens might simply have existed in larger groups and had slightly higher birthrates, he said.

"It is likely that were absorbed by modern humans," he said. "My research suggests that they were a different kind of human, but humans nonetheless. We are more brothers than distant cousins."

Explore further: Scientists reproduce evolutionary changes by manipulating embryonic development of mice

Provided by University of Colorado Denver

4.8 /5 (28 votes)

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kevinrtrs
1.8 / 5 (10) Sep 22, 2010
First of all these dates of 40ky and 100ky are way out of kilter with mathematical calculations for human population development. Even if one were to start off with just two people about 40ky ago, the world population should now be incredibly large. Do the maths for yourselves. So where are all the people?
Secondly the Neanderthals are simply human beings with different attributes but are fully Homo Sapien. And the researcher's eyes have now fully opened and acknowledges that fact. Just like there's no black, brown, white or asian races - we're all the same race - HUMAN, with one skin colour that has different levels of pigmentation. Sure, we differ in features but underneath we're mostly the same.
No Darwinian evolution [molecules to man] required.
frajo
5 / 5 (4) Sep 22, 2010
First of all these dates of 40ky and 100ky are way out of kilter with mathematical calculations for human population development. Even if one were to start off with just two people about 40ky ago, the world population should now be incredibly large. Do the maths for yourselves. So where are all the people?
Nice maths. Did you apply your maths also to bacteria (replication time: 20 minutes)?
we're all the same race - HUMAN, with one skin colour that has different levels of pigmentation. Sure, we differ in features but underneath we're mostly the same.
No Darwinian evolution [molecules to man] required.
Excellent conclusion, wrong premise.
DamienS
3 / 5 (2) Sep 22, 2010
we're all the same race - HUMAN, with one skin colour that has different levels of pigmentation. Sure, we differ in features but underneath we're mostly the same.

We aren't all the same race - there are many, though we are all the same species.

No Darwinian evolution [molecules to man] required.

Yes, not required for intellectual Luddites.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2010
Even if one were to start off with just two people about 40ky ago, the world population should now be incredibly large.
No, it'd be dead. You need more than two to tango. Don't believe me? Sleep with your sister for a few generations and tell me how the kids turn out, or perhaps your family already has.
Do the maths for yourselves. So where are all the people?
You'd need to account for predation, death, stillbirth, disease, mass extinctions. Why don't you show us your calculations, or did you jsut grab numbers from a hat?
Secondly the Neanderthals are simply human beings with different attributes but are fully Homo Sapien.
DNA, chronology, distribution pattern, and many other sciences say otherwise.
No Darwinian evolution [molecules to man] required.
You're really stuck on this aren't you? If you're so interested in refuting evolution why don't you actually learn something about it first?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
SH:

Actually, the jewish tribes and much of the arabian nations are decended from a family which practiced incest on several consecutive occasions.

Sarah was Abraham's sister
Rebekah was Isaac's first cousin on both sides
Two of Jacob's 4 wives were also his first cousins.

I'm not saying this to promote incest, but rather to point something out.

Adam and Eve could have been created with maximum genetic diversity such that no two chromosomes among them were the same. This diversity was lost through war and catastrophism, and it can explain the existence of "Neanderthals" without the need for molecule-to-man evolution.

If Adam was represented by 46 cards from a blue deck, and Eve was represented by 46 cards from a red deck then that's actually 92 unique cards, representing 92 unique chromosome possibilities.

I.e. Adam Y and a unique X chromosome. Eve has two unique X chromosomes, etc.

Thus genetic diversity decreased from maximal to present conditions.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
QC,

To be that ignorant of genetics and prosetylze as you are, really takes courage.
If Adam was represented by 46 cards from a blue deck, and Eve was represented by 46 cards from a red deck then that's actually 92 unique cards, representing 92 unique chromosome possibilities.

I.e. Adam Y and a unique X chromosome. Eve has two unique X chromosomes, etc.
Neither would be human, or viable.

In order to dissuade me as to the tenets of evolution you'll need to explain why Chromosome 2 in humans is a direct representation of two fused primate chromosomes, or how the ERVs found attached to the genome of all Chimpanzees and bonomos match the ERVs found on all chromosomes of human beings. Those are two of the many millions of pieces of data that you must be able to accurately explain and demonstrate before you can begin to debate evolution. These two points alone can only be explained by evolution thus far.

Thanks for playing.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
Adam and Eve had 3 sons whose names are given, plus the text implies they had at least 2 more sons whose names are not mentioned, in addtion to at least 2 daughters whose names are not mentioned. However, other ancient Jewish texts have said that Adam and Eve had a total of 56 children together.

Brother and sister in thise generation would, on average, be nearly as genetically diverse from one another as Adam and Eve had originally been.

In the Biblical historical account, each man in the line of Seth up to Noah had 1 son given by name, plus at least 2 sons and at least 2 daughters who are not named.

So if generation 1 was 2 people, generaton 2 was 56 people, and each generation thereafter was at least 2.5 times as big as the previous, we have 8 more generations to Noah, giving ~56*2.5^8 decendents in the 10th generation alone, or 85450.

And this is a severe underestimate because it assumes all children born at the same time rather than spread out in a curve.

Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
Then along comes the Flood and other catastrophes and wars, and we are left with 4 men and 4 women.

Then among their decendants we have catastrophe and wars over and over again too.

SH:

Chromosomes can be "different" yet compatible. Goodnes, look at the X and Y themselves. I am talking about gene variation among the chromosomes, and therefore maximum diversity, which we still have to this day, else everyone would be an exact clone of everyone else.

Are you saying you think Africans have identical Chromosomes to white Americans? I hope you aren't that idiotic.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
And apparently you've never done a Mendelev matrix.
Brother and sister in thise generation would, on average, be nearly as genetically diverse from one another as Adam and Eve had originally been.

No, under your ideology you only have 4 combinations.
Adam X1,Y1 Eve X2,X3
X1X2,X1X3,Y1X2,Y1X3
Again, thanks for playing.
Chromosomes can be "different" yet compatible. Goodnes, look at the X and Y themselves. I am talking about gene variation among the chromosomes, and therefore maximum diversity, which we still have to this day, else everyone would be an exact clone of everyone else.
So now you're saying that mutation happens? That's a stance change already. Perhaps you're learning.
Are you saying you think Africans have identical Chromosomes to white Americans? I hope you aren't that idiotic.
So you're saying they're different? How about you quantify how different they are. What is the percentage delta between them?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
SH:

There are 4 combinations in generation 2, but in generation 3 and subsequent generations, you can end up with X1Y1 and X2X3 again.

To my knowledge, I've never taken the stance that mutation doesn't happen. I am not aware of much of anyone who takes that stance.

Clearly if we are all 99.99% genetically the same then that 0.01% difference must be represented in different versions of chromosomes in which perhaps one or two genes differ in analog chromosomes from race to race. Otherwise there wouldn't be races.

However, the existence of races could mostly be explained by the fact that Noah's 3 sons had 3 different wives of potentially different origins in terms of their lineage from Adam and Eve.

Over generations one family moved into Europe and one into Asia. Then because they were only marrying within their own tribes, some genes disappeared in individual tribes while being maintained in other tribes and nations. Other genes, "Neanderthals" disappeared entirely.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
Finally, in terms of pure information, two things can be 99.99% the same and yet have entirely different meanings and therefore quite different results.

"Let's eat grandma!!"

vs

"Let's eat, grandma!!"

Counting spaces, the two things are 95.24% identical, yet they have completely different, unrelated meanings.

This is why comparing a primate's DNA to a human's is completely irrational.

One "Comma" makes everything completely UNRELATED.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
There are 4 combinations in generation 2, but in generation 3 and subsequent generations, you can end up with X1Y1 and X2X3 again.
Which leaves you with a maximum differential of 16 combinations and multiple genetic disorders.
However, the existence of races could mostly be explained by the fact that Noah's 3 sons had 3 different wives of potentially different origins in terms of their lineage from Adam and Eve.
Or the species could be hundreds of thousands of years worth of work in progress, utilizing gradual changes within populations, as evolution demands.

So if you want to try to tell me that evolution is false, you need to start explaining the thousands of points I've brought up in my two short posts.

Answer to the ERV evidence for starters, then continue on and explain the fusion of primate chromosomes within the species, homosapiens.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 28, 2010
"Let's eat grandma!!" vs "Let's eat, grandma!!"

Counting spaces, the two things are 95.24% identical, yet they have completely different, unrelated meanings.

This is why comparing a primate's DNA to a human's is completely irrational.
But both are written in english, which is a derivative of Latin and Germanic source languages. Evolution can also be seen in language. For example, someone who speaks Russian won't understand much english if they haven't been exposed to it, however, someone who knows english will know some german words, and some romance language words, because the languages share a common ancestor language, which gave rise to part of the current body of languages through slight change over long periods of time, within disparate populations, just like evolution says it would.

What holds for language, also holds for organisms, DNA is simply the "keyboard" for the language of life.