Neanderthal's brain matured more slowly than Homo sapiens and other primates

Maciamo

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For those who still thought of Neanderthals as brutish retards, think again. It was already known that they had bigger brains than us, they could talk, buried their dead long before Homo sapiens, used medicinal plants, made and used painting and jewellery, and that they may have invented religion. Now a new study published in Science provides evidence that their brains (and body in general) matured a bit more slowly than Sapiens brains, which means they had longer childhoods and were slightly more neotenised than us.

Neoteny (longer retention of juvenile traits) is what made it possible for humans to learn and keep a flexible brain until much later than other primates and consequently to develop technologies that made us rise above all other animals. This is also why very intelligent people tend to remain more childish and immature for longer (the quintessential example is Sheldon Copper in the TV show Big Bang Theory). It is not impossible that the gene for slower maturation of the brain was inherited from Neanderthals and that a part of the modern population carries the Neanderthal variant. East Asians for example do show signs of neoteny in their physical features (smaller nose, younger looking at equal age) and behaviour (obsession with cute things) that aren't as common in other populations.

BBC News: Neanderthal brains 'grew more slowly'
 
Maciamo, in your opinion, do you believe Neanderthals or ancient Humans from the same era(say 50000 years ago) were more intelligent?

From my understanding the large brain of Neandethals was mostly devoted to muscle movement more than complex thought, but of course we've discovered many things that point to complex thoughts in Neanderthals. In honesty I wish they were still around. Imagine two complex species thriving at the same time in the modern era.
 
Well, I felt mature at an early age, I don't like cute things, and I have a very large and magnificent nose (and ears), must be the curse of the basal Eurasian :grin:

What caused their extinction? given that we now know that they weren't less intelligent than us? disease?
 
Maciamo, in your opinion, do you believe Neanderthals or ancient Humans from the same era(say 50000 years ago) were more intelligent?

From my understanding the large brain of Neandethals was mostly devoted to muscle movement more than complex thought, but of course we've discovered many things that point to complex thoughts in Neanderthals. In honesty I wish they were still around. Imagine two complex species thriving at the same time in the modern era.

Intelligence is too complex to give a straight answer to that question. There are many types of intelligence. I believe that Neanderthals were better for some types of intelligence (probably for visual thinking, given their large occipital cortex), while Sapiens were better at other things (executive skills given their more developed prefrontal cortex). But I also believe that the hybridising between the two subspecies allowed humans to become more intelligent overall. It was a lengthy process of natural selection though. Neanderthals and Sapiens interbred for tens of thousands of years since they first ran into each others in the Middle East at least 100,000 years ago until the last pure Neanderthal died c. 30,000 years ago. After that, deleterious Neanderthal genes were pruned away by thousands of years of further selection, while beneficial alleles were positively selected. That is probably why we see a progressive increase in the rate of technological inventions since about 40,000 years ago.
 
Well, I felt mature at an early age, I don't like cute things, and I have a very large and magnificent nose (and ears), must be the curse of the basal Eurasian :grin:

What caused their extinction? given that we now know that they weren't less intelligent than us? disease?

50 ka modern humans invented blade tools, while Neanderthals continued to make flake (Levallois) tools
that is when modern humans started to outcompete the Neanderthals
Neanderthals failed to assimilate the new technology

View attachment 9292
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flake tools

View attachment 9291
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blade tools : better suited for hafting and making composite tools

50 ka blade tools started to spread with modern humans from SW Asia all over Eurasia
Neanderthals never made such tools and everywhere modern humans arrived with these tools, Neanderthals went extinct
the Neanderthal admixture happened in SW Asia before 50 ka
there is no proof of any later admixture anywhere, except maybe Oase 1, a branch that went extinct
 
Intelligence is too complex to give a straight answer to that question. There are many types of intelligence. I believe that Neanderthals were better for some types of intelligence (probably for visual thinking, given their large occipital cortex), while Sapiens were better at other things (executive skills given their more developed prefrontal cortex). But I also believe that the hybridising between the two subspecies allowed humans to become more intelligent overall. It was a lengthy process of natural selection though. Neanderthals and Sapiens interbred for tens of thousands of years since they first ran into each others in the Middle East at least 100,000 years ago until the last pure Neanderthal died c. 30,000 years ago. After that, deleterious Neanderthal genes were pruned away by thousands of years of further selection, while beneficial alleles were positively selected. That is probably why we see a progressive increase in the rate of technological inventions since about 40,000 years ago.
Let's not forget that intelligence can rise not only with brain size but also with better wiring, more efficient and faster neurons, or upgraded brain architecture. One analogy could be the big room size IBM computers of the past, compared to our new smart phones. Here, bigger is not better.
It is obvious that people had better social intelligence and skills, had cultural contacts and exchange of ideas throughout Europe, unlike the extinct Neanderthals.
HSS could have had better hunting skills/intelligence too, or just better culinary skills or longer basic staples list. I don't know exact statistics but I gather that people overpopulated Neanderthals rather quickly, and this happened while still being not exactly genetically tuned with Eurasian menu.

Other than that I think they were quite human like in every department.
 
There is a link between redheads sapiens and neandertals, the neoteny.
 
50 ka modern humans invented blade tools, while Neanderthals continued to make flake (Levallois) tools
that is when modern humans started to outcompete the Neanderthals
Neanderthals failed to assimilate the new technology

View attachment 9292
attachment.php

flake tools

View attachment 9291
attachment.php

blade tools : better suited for hafting and making composite tools

50 ka blade tools started to spread with modern humans from SW Asia all over Eurasia
Neanderthals never made such tools and everywhere modern humans arrived with these tools, Neanderthals went extinct
the Neanderthal admixture happened in SW Asia before 50 ka
there is no proof of any later admixture anywhere, except maybe Oase 1, a branch that went extinct

Absolutely.
Some European sites are essentially a continuation of the Neanderthals ones. It is clearly noticeable that the Neanderthal instruments are replaced by advanced Sapiens. Including throwing spears, instead of primitive Neanderthal melee spears. Because of that there was the difference in the tactics of hunting, which the sapiens had less traumatic.

Also, as Svante Paabo notes that Neanderthals were poor researchers, if they see mountain or water obstacle, they simply did not go any further.. At that time the Sapiens were insane explorers by nature. They always went somewhere, sometimes to certain death, sometimes to the ocean. That is, the behavior of the sapiens was more juvenil and childish, despite the earlier maturation of the brain in comparison with the Neanderthals:

They never came to Madagascar, never to Australia. Neither did Neanderthals. It’s only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don’t see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also, I like to think or say, some madness there. You know? How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island? I mean, it’s ridiculous. And why do you do that? Is it for the glory? For immortality? For curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop.” If the defining characteristic of modern humans is this sort of Faustian restlessness, then, by Pääbo’s account, there must be some sort of Faustian gene. Several times, he told me that he thought it should be possible to identify the basis for this “madness” by comparing Neanderthal and human DNA.

“If we one day will know that some freak mutation made the human insanity and exploration thing possible, it will be amazing to think that it was this little inversion on this chromosome that made all this happen and changed the whole ecosystem of the planet and made us dominate everything,” he said at one point. At another, he said, “We are crazy in some way. What drives it? That I would really like to understand. That would be really, really cool to know.”

Also the boys brain also later formed on average than girls, but IQs are the same on average. Although different extreme values. And all the main differences are formed in the womb a long before maturing, under the influence of testosterone (spatial imagination) or estrogen (empathy).
 
Absolutely.
Some European sites are essentially a continuation of the Neanderthals ones. It is clearly noticeable that the Neanderthal instruments are replaced by advanced Sapiens. Including throwing spears, instead of primitive Neanderthal melee spears. Because of that there was the difference in the tactics of hunting, which the sapiens had less traumatic.

Hunting tactics can vary widely even between different groups of Sapiens. In the Late Paleolithic some became mammoth hunters, while others where fishers or small game hunters. It's easy to conceive that one group who developed a new, more efficient hunting technique for big game who immediately have an advantage over other groups. It turned out that one such group was Sapiens in origin, but I don't think it's enough to claim much greater intellectual superiority by Sapiens over Neanderthals. If so, then one can only take a racist approach to human history and see people who created more advanced civilisations or technologies are intellectually superior to other humans, when in fact luck and the qualities of the local environment also play a role.

Also, as Svante Paabo notes that Neanderthals were poor researchers, if they see mountain or water obstacle, they simply did not go any further.. At that time the Sapiens were insane explorers by nature. They always went somewhere, sometimes to certain death, sometimes to the ocean. That is, the behavior of the sapiens was more juvenil and childish, despite the earlier maturation of the brain in comparison with the Neanderthals:

That could be a very simple mutation like the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene that is known to increase adventurousness and novelty-seeking behaviour.

Also the boys brain also later formed on average than girls, but IQs are the same on average. Although different extreme values. And all the main differences are formed in the womb a long before maturing, under the influence of testosterone (spatial imagination) or estrogen (empathy).

The Y chromosome does seem to delay brain maturation. That is why boys remain emotionally immature for longer than girls and why the extreme male brain of people with autism or Asperger's tend to mature even more slowly. Using the same example as above, Sheldon Copper in The Big Bang Theory is a perfect example of an Aspie with very delayed emotional maturity (although over the course of 10 seasons we see a gradual improvement). It is baffling that most new technologies in history were invented by men, and this is still true today in the most liberated and gender-equal societies such as Scandinavia. Besides, many of the great creative geniuses in history, and not just in science and technology (Newton, Edison, Graham Bell, Einstein), but also the arts (Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Van Gogh) had clear autistic/Aspie traits, which seem to confirm the triple link between creative genius, delayed brain maturation and the Y chromosome (or at least very masculinised brain).
 
My brain will never "mature". I love video gaming, metal, and vulgar humor. I'm a great guy, but most things that are considered "mature" are boring.
 
Hunting tactics can vary widely even between different groups of Sapiens. In the Late Paleolithic some became mammoth hunters, while others where fishers or small game hunters. It's easy to conceive that one group who developed a new, more efficient hunting technique for big game who immediately have an advantage over other groups. It turned out that one such group was Sapiens in origin, but I don't think it's enough to claim much greater intellectual superiority by Sapiens over Neanderthals. If so, then one can only take a racist approach to human history and see people who created more advanced civilisations or technologies are intellectually superior to other humans, when in fact luck and the qualities of the local environment also play a role.

Initially, they simply did not have throwing spears for advanced tactics, what required a fine motor skills for manufacturing. Although later this were borrowed from the Sapiens and begin make by Neanderthans. And I agree that this is only a indirectly evidence, and can not say anything directly to their intellects.


The Y chromosome does seem to delay brain maturation. That is why boys remain emotionally immature for longer than girls and why the extreme male brain of people with autism or Asperger's tend to mature even more slowly. Using the same example as above, Sheldon Copper in The Big Bang Theory is a perfect example of an Aspie with very delayed emotional maturity (although over the course of 10 seasons we see a gradual improvement). It is baffling that most new technologies in history were invented by men, and this is still true today in the most liberated and gender-equal societies such as Scandinavia. Besides, many of the great creative geniuses in history, and not just in science and technology (Newton, Edison, Graham Bell, Einstein), but also the arts (Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Van Gogh) had clear autistic/Aspie traits, which seem to confirm the triple link between creative genius, delayed brain maturation and the Y chromosome (or at least very masculinised brain).

Yes, it was recently established that the cause of various forms of autism is likely to be excessive embryonic testosterone, which affects the formation of the brain in a certain period. Testosterone simply makes brain of a maximum male type, whih specialised solely for structuring, but at the same time complete absence of social intelligence and empathy (if the extreme form). It's no wonder that boys are more likely to have this than girls.

It is interesting that at the northern latitudes puberty come later than on the southern ones. This even applies to animals, if I'm not mistaken. In a colder climate, people stay longer as children.
 
By the way, there is also interesting example. Neoteny and juvenileism does not always mean smarter. Wild wolves have a better cognitive abilities than dogs, as this consider in ethology. At the same time domestic dogs save part of child behavior in adulthood unlike wolves, which was inseparable from the process of domestication.
 
It is interesting that at the northern latitudes puberty come later than on the southern ones. This even applies to animals, if I'm not mistaken. In a colder climate, people stay longer as children.

It isn't because the latitude but the genes. Commonly people with those genes were founded in north, but not always.
 
It isn't because the latitude but the genes. Commonly people with those genes were founded in north, but not always.
I didn't say the opposite, because I dont know details about this fact.
If these are genes, then latitude has contributed to their selection. So it's because of the latitude (cold climate) in anyway. Maybe in Neanderthals case this also happened.
 
By the way, there is also interesting example. Neoteny and juvenileism does not always mean smarter. Wild wolves have a better cognitive abilities than dogs, as this consider in ethology. At the same time domestic dogs save part of child behavior in adulthood unlike wolves, which was inseparable from the process of domestication.

Dogs are a special case because they were domesticated and bred specifically for the purpose of having docile and child-like characteristics. This is even truer for small, cute dogs (as opposed to guard dogs or shepherds). The end result is that small, cute dogs are less intelligent than larger dogs (German shepherds, Labradors, etc.). Being fed by humans, dogs also lost the ability to hunt and think by themselves to survive in the wild. Once again that is more pronounced in small dogs.

This is very different from primate neoteny as exhibited in humans compared to other apes. Sapiens and Neanderthals have longer childhoods than other apes so that they maintain a flexible brain to acquire new knowledge until late in life. But contrarily to (small) dogs who always remain juvenile, humans do eventually become mature, independent, self-reliant adults (well, in general).

The way I see it is that dogs were not just neotenised, but human selection turned dogs into eternal children, and recent selection toward smaller, cuter breeds (especially popular in East Asia) was purposefully designed to keep dogs stupid.
 
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Dogs are a special case because they were domesticated and bred specifically for the purpose of having docile and child-like characteristics. This is even truer for small, cute dogs (as opposed to guard dogs or shepherds). The end result is that small, cute dogs are less intelligent than larger dogs (German shepherds, Labradors, etc.). Being fed by humans, dogs also lost the ability to hunt and think by themselves to survive in the wild. Once again that is more pronounced in small dogs.

This is very different from primate neoteny as exhibited in humans compared to other apes. Sapiens and Neanderthals have longer childhoods than other apes so that they maintain a flexible brain to acquire new knowledge until late in life. But contrarily to (small) dogs who always remain juvenile, humans do eventually become mature, independent, self-reliant adults (well, in general).

The way I see it is that dogs were not just neotenised, but human selection turned dogs into eternal children, and recent selection toward smaller, cuter breeds (especially popular in East Asia) was purposefully designed to keep dogs stupid. I personally can't stand small dogs. They get on my nerves.


Of course, shepherd dogs are smarter than others. But in the experiment, as far as I can remember, they compared German shepherds and wolves. Wolves showed the better ability and logic.
And almost all domesticated animals show signs of neoteny in behavior and appearance. Also their sexual demorphism decreases and they became less agressive.
But they are less intelligent than their wild ancestors. These are all signs of domestication.

Also well known that in sexual selection in homo went along the path of reduction of masculine traits. For some reason, females began to choose men according to childish signs (perhaps, echoes of the maternal instinct) a larger head, smaller fangs. And also the increased distance between the upper lip and glabella. A large head made it possible to develop the brain, and the smaller fangs and the distance between the upper lip and the glabella made the face less aggressive and menacing and gave the opportunity for cooperation between men. All this was inseparably connected with neoteny. Lovejoy suggested that the reason for this is the relatively monogamous relationship of the ancestors of the Sapiens.

All this is some similar to domestication, but the results are of course different.

(Somehow I post already an example - children's signs at the skull of homo sapiens and masculine in their distant ancestors. It is perfectly visible how everything has changed.)
skulls.jpg
 
Of course, shepherd dogs are smarter than others. But in the experiment, as far as I can remember, they compared German shepherds and wolves. Wolves showed the better ability and logic.
And almost all domesticated animals show signs of neoteny in behavior and appearance. Also their sexual demorphism decreases and they became less agressive.
But they are less intelligent than their wild ancestors. These are all signs of domestication.

That's my point. Domesticated animals are more stupid than wild ones because they don't have to fight for their survival. Neoteny has little to do with it. It is really domestication that removes the necessity for intelligent behaviour. Cows are not neotenised and are particularly stupid considering their big brains (bigger than those of humans). Domestic goats are probably less clever than wild ones, again without any neoteny involved. Non-domesticated animals that show signs of neoteny, like humans, would be more intelligent than their non-neotenised cousins.
 
I didn't say the opposite, because I dont know details about this fact.
If these are genes, then latitude has contributed to their selection. So it's because of the latitude (cold climate) in anyway. Maybe in Neanderthals case this also happened.

The Caucasus is not so nordic and it's assumed to be there where the mutation to white skin had happened. Then people migrate and colonise new lands
 
The Caucasus is not so nordic and it's assumed to be there where the mutation to white skin had happened. Then people migrate and colonise new lands

why Caucasus? Neanderthals seem to have developped somewhere in Europe
and at the time it was the northern frontier of continuous human habitation
it was adaptation by selection, their morphology was different from their ancestors
 

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