Poor Neanderthals!

Scientists have been giving many possible reasons for the extinction of the Neanderthals. The latest theory is, Neanderthals died out because of their vision-centered brains. They had larger eyes than us. Their brains worked more for seeing things during long dark winter in Europe. Our brains worked more for social networks.

The study says so.


The researchers think:

The Neanderthals left Africa and had to adapt to the longer, darker nights of Europe. So they evolved larger eyes and a much larger visual processing area at the backs of their brains. The humans that stayed in Africa did not need for such an adaption. Our ancestors evolved their frontal lobes with higher-level thinking.

“Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking,”


“We infer that Neanderthals had a smaller cognitive part of the brain and this would have limited them, including their ability to form larger groups. If you live in a larger group, you need a larger brain in order to process all those extra relationships,”

The Neanderthals’ more visually-focused brain structure might also have affected their ability to innovate and to adapt to the ice age that was thought to have contributed to their demise.

There is archaeological evidence, for example, that the Homo sapiens that coexisted with Neanderthals had needles that they used to make tailored clothing. This would have kept them much warmer than the wraps thought to have been worn by Neanderthals.

“Even if you had a small percent better ability to react quickly, to rely on your neighbours to help you survive and to pass on information – all these things together gave the edge to Homo sapiens over Neanderthals, and that may have made a difference to survival.”

The Neanderthals had better eyesight than Homo sapiens, so they probably could hunt better than us. They lacked social skills, but they were very strong and very smart.They had skills to make excellent tools. I still do not believe that the Neanderthal died out only because they could not have larger groups and lacked social skills. Many species survived who had much less qualities than the Neanderthals had. I still think we Homo sapiens were one of the main causes or the only cause of the extinction of the Neanderthals. We are a very jealous, wicked, selfish, greedy, insecure, vindictive, venomous, vicious, violent species. Most likely we killed them off. We did not want any other humans around us, who looked like us, but not exactly us. We rather tolerate animals who do not look like us but accept our dominance over them. Look at us, we domesticated hundreds of animals but we stay far away from bonobos or chimpanzees. Probably physically and psychologically we do not feel comfortable to live with primates or our distant cousins or we just don’t like to see any species around us from whom we have nothing to gain.


  1. mvemjsun says

    Most theists would not even admit there were other human species to kill. After all that would mean that god did not get it right the first time and we are not his first and only draft. Plus the Neanderthals went extinct 30,000 years ago and many of them say creation was 6,000-10,000 years ago: so like the dinosaurs the fossils and skeletons are obvious fakes.

  2. Sciencewizardlol says

    I laughed at some of this. I don’t believe that brain size makes all the difference and I don’t believe humans are so special when compared to the other animals that we need to look for special features in the brain. The neanderthals were just as smart as us and had communities just as big as ours. Look at insects, fish, birds, dumb herd animals, other primates. You can be borderline brainless and be part of a massive community that accomplishes complex tasks working together. If homo sapiens have trouble identifying and respecting other homo sapiens who just happen to have a different skin color then you can imagine what our ancestors thought of the neanderthals. We killed them and stole their land like we always do. Plus its not like the study has evidence:

    1. Neanderthal remains are found in Europe.
    2. Europe is darker in winter then Africa.
    3. Therefore they ‘would have’ evolve better vision (NO EVIDENCE FOR THIS AT ALL)
    4. This would have come at the cost of other brain functions. (WHY? HOW DO YOU KNOW? WHAT BRAIN FUNCTIONS WOULD BE COMPROMISED FIRST?)
    5. Therefore they probably had bad social skills and that’s why they died out. (YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN SHERLOCK.)

  3. Usha Padiyar says

    The more evolved Homo Sapiens that co existed and gradually dominated the Neanderthals in Europe were named Cro- Magnons, who were long headed. It is not known if they were responsible for the disappearance but the fact is that the CroMagnon continued to evolve, whereas the Neanderthals tapered out from the face of this Earth!

  4. doublereed says

    I was under the impression that one of the things that drove human evolution was our murderous nature. We became more murderous, which made us more social/intelligent, which made us more murderous etc. etc. So we became pretty good at things like politics and social skills to avoid getting murdered.

    So it wouldn’t exactly be that hard for us to murder the socially stupid neanderthals.

    • kraut says

      “I was under the impression that one of the things that drove human evolution was our murderous nature”

      If that were true, we would have died out long ago. There is actually more evidence that cooperation led to our success, and things changed when humans settled down, developed agriculture and permanent settlements leading to possession of land and the accumulation of power…
      that’s when things went sideways.

      • doublereed says

        I don’t mean individuals killing each other in the wild. I mean murder within our already cooperative societies. The less socially skillful would be more prone to be killed by the society (or possible scapegoated or something). So over time we get more socially skillful, and we get more prone to deception and murderousness. And of course something like deception will benefit better deception-detecting, benefitting even better deception, etc. etc.

        It’s no doubt that we killed each other a lot. It’s more of a question of whether we were murderous to the point that it actually became a evolutionary factor.

  5. profpedant says

    I strongly suspect that there were many reasons that pure-Neanderthals died out, and quite possibly no one reason would have been sufficient by itself. I don’t think they were a ‘failed species’ or ‘inferior’ to us, they were simply different and things did not work out well for them. It would not surprise me if murder, even predation, by ‘modern humans’ played a significant role in Neanderthal extinction, but I don’t think the end result was inevitable.

  6. says

    The more evolved Homo Sapiens,viz CroMagnon, has been known to exist since about 35000 years back, in the later Paleolithic period, I.e a later arrival than the Neanderthals seen in Germany, and were first discovered from their fossils in some caves in France. I don’t think it was because of their more aggressive or murderous nature that made the m more suited for warfare that led to their survival and superior evolution, but their ability to provide themselves with Food for survival, by food gathering and hunting to begin with, going on to food production by cultivation, I.e. Agriculture in the Neolithic Age with the use of Water storage means,and the production and use of Fire for cooking as well as for warmth and shooing off wild animals.The Art of Tailoring also seems to have been developed by them.

  7. says

    I think the beginning of Warfare was for conquest and possession of suitble territory for settlement and must have come with the growth of population and need to change from the earlier nomadic or wandering, food gathering& hunting way of life to a settled,productive way of living, and encounter with other,different types of people, as might have happened between the Neanderthals and CroManons, and later different groups within similar tribes.

  8. Kengi says

    Their study looks sound, and they present their ideas which follow from the evidence not as a sole explanation for decline, but only as one more possible aspect to consider. Some media articles have taken liberties with the information (especially in headlines), but that’s not surprise when it come to science reporting.

    Much speculation about Neanderthals (including some of the comments here) relies upon the unfounded practice of assuming Neanderthals were socially similar to some current human societies (not even homo sapiens of 50,000 years ago). This study, however, doesn’t rely upon such assumptions. It measures several stark correlations and relies upon empirical evidence of brain development in higher apes.

    We know from other studies that brain size and function is limited by caloric intake. With a limit on calories, there’s a limit on brain development. We also know the size of the visual processing part of the brain is correlated to eye size in apes like us. It’s not that brain functions were “compromised”, but that they may never have had the equal chance to evolve.

    The authors in no way suggested that Homo Sapiens didn’t contribute to the extinction of Neanderthal, nor would their study preclude the idea that Homo Sapiens “stole Neanderthal land.” In fact, their hypothesis would support such a social conclusion since Neanderthal would have been less capable of organizing resistance on a large scale.

    This isn’t even a put down of Neanderthal culture. In fact, with a more developed visual cortex, they may have had a more developed artistic creativity. We would need more evidence of their visual art to help support such a claim, but it certainly wouldn’t be an unreasonable conclusion.

    It seems you may be falling for the “Noble Savage” myth.

    The authors do have empirical evidence for their striking correlations. The authors themselves have said this is just one more possible factor in a complex story of Neanderthal extinction, and they call for more research. It all sounded very reasonable.

    I’m eager for some of the research into how the brain is wired that is currently being proposed. That research will certainly be able to place some new constraints on brain development from a paleontology perspective and will have much to add to this research.

  9. kevinalexander says

    So the researchers are saying that a subspecies adapted for one environment went to another environment where they encountered another subspecies that were adapted to that environment and somehow were better adapted?

    Most likely we killed them off. We did not want any other humans around us, who looked like us, but not exactly us.

    That about sums it up. The most important difference seems to be that we are more violent.

  10. says

    It is generally supposed that the socalled ‘savage’or uncivilized tribes belong to the colored races, but there is a tribe of ‘White’i.e.Caucasian ‘Savages’called ‘ Ainus’ in Hokkadu Islands of Northern Japan! Not much is known about them, but the must be early agricultural cooperative groups,having learnt to build huts instead of living in caves, and Cultivation of land with simple implements.

  11. says

    I just looked up the Wikipedia an came to know that though the Ainus have many characteristics of Caucasoids,they are a different ethnic Proto Mongoloid group,and that they lived by hunting, fishing& food gathering, rather than Farming, but now they are trying to learn the Japanese way of living to lessen discrimination.

  12. Kel Varson says

    I think the underlying assumption is that of course one species of human would kill off another species of human. So the question of why didn’t Neanderthals survive becomes why weren’t they as good at killing us as we were of them.

  13. Betsy M says

    Well, look where we are now, with Homo Sapiens/Cro Magnon domination of the Earth. Our “superior” abilities have put us in danger of destroying ourselves with nuclear bombs, and we are responsible for wiping out many animal species from the planet. We are destroying the seas, and the biomass that sustains us.

  14. LadyV says

    African gene will wipe out any race. Some countries in Asia worship the black dick. The Neanderthal didnt get murdered stupid. They intermingled with black and their genes were to weak. That’s why the British were married there own cousins (the royal blood line) to keep the white gene as pure as possible. And that’s why they suppress the black man because they know their time on this earth is limited. They learned that from their ancestors the Neanderthals. They also hold in their possession the black mans jewels. They make blacks feel inferior or outnumbered by whites when it’s the colored man who dominates on this planet. The African continent alone can swallow the whole of the United States and Europe. They have proportioned the map to show that Africa is smaller than it is, when in fact it is larger In comparison to any other continent. With respect to Asia
    Africa has the most resources and a land of plenty. There is no reason to want the lands in Europe. There are no natural resources there.

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