Neanderthals much smarter than we ever thought

Neanderthals has always been considered as not so smart hominid destined to be replaced through natural selection by us, smart Homo sapiens.

But the new discovery from a cave in France should make us think again about lack of smartness of our distant cousins.

Deep in a dark cave in southwestern France lie half a dozen mysterious structures that scientists believe were built by Neanderthals 176,000 years ago — about 140,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe.

The structures, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, are located in what is known as the Bruniquel Cave. They are made of roughly 400 pieces of stalagmites, all roughly, almost eerily, the same size.

Archaeologists say these mineral formations were probably broken off the cave floor by ancient hands and then deliberately arranged into two large rings and a series of four round piles up to 15 inches high.

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