October 23, 2014

WE'RE JUST LIKE YOU:

Our Neanderthal Complex : What if our ancient relatives did "human" better? (LYDIA PYNE, OCTOBER 16, 2014, Nautilus)

Just this year, researchers offered a series of tantalizingly detailed new insights about Neanderthal culture and Pleistocene lifestyles. Paleo-geneticists have lit up the public imagination with descriptions of the genetic overlap between modern humans and Neanderthals.7 Excavations at Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar have suggested that Neanderthals exploited rock pigeon populations8 for food and produced etched cave art9 around 39,000 years ago. Clive Finlayson, the director of the Heritage Division of the Gibraltar Museum and Gorham Cave researcher, noted in an interview in Nature, "What is clear is that it [the etched cave art] is abstract, it's deliberate, and it speaks to their cognition in a way that brings Neanderthals, once again, closer to us."

The new findings have ushered a transformation of the Neanderthal from a knuckle-dragging savage rightfully defeated in an evolutionary constant, to a distant cousin that holds clues to our identity. Where museums used to emphasize their primitive and brutal nature, modern exhibits evoke a feeling of belonging. "For Neanderthals, especially in museum exhibits, there's a sense of wanting to connect to them since they are so close to us," says Linda Kim, an art historian specializing in museum exhibits. 

Posted by at October 23, 2014 5:08 PM
  

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