Piece of Carved Bone Suggests Neanderthals Were Smarter Than Previously Thought
There’s no denying that Neanderthals were far beneath us when it comes to brain development. Our ancestors weren’t even capable of communicating with each other the way we do, and most of all: they lived for hundreds of thousands of years without inventing the internet.
But as a new article from Gizmodo.com reveals, the Neanderthals might have been “true artists”. This is the conclusion after a 51,000 years-old bone carving was found in a cave entrance from northern Germany.
Symbolic thought present for Neanderthals?
The straight patterns carved into the bone represent pretty good evidence that the Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thought. The new study was led by Dirk Leder, an archaeologist from the State Service for Cultural Heritage Lower Saxony in Hannover, Germany.
Silvia Bello, who is an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum in London, explained as quoted by Gizmodo:
Evidence of artistic decorations would suggest production or modification of objects for symbolic reasons beyond mere functionality, adding a new dimension to the complex cognitive capability of Neanderthals.
The bone belongs from the Middle Paleolithic, and even shortly before the Homo sapiens arrives in the region. The bone was also boiled before the etching, with the purpose of making the fossil softer so that it can be carved more easily.
Bello said, as also quoted by Gizmodo:
On the contrary, the capacity to learn, integrate innovation into one’s own culture and adapt to new technologies and abstract concepts should be recognized as an element of behavioural complexity,
In this context, the engraved bone from Einhornhöhle brings Neanderthal behaviour even closer to the modern behaviour of Homo sapiens.
The Neanderthals are thought to had been living in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ago.
The new discovery is described in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
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