Neanderthals: Smarter Than We Thought
They were 'more like our brothers and sisters,' anthropologists say
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2010 12:53 PM CDT
A model of Neanderthal man constructed on the basis of excavated bones, is seen at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, circa 1920.   (AP)

(Newser) – Turns out the Geico cavemen have a point: Neanderthals have been getting a bad rap. Until recently, scientists assumed that Neanderthals only learned advanced survival skills when they met more modern humans. But scientists have now found evidence that they developed human-like skills—like creating new tools, hunting more elusive prey, and even decorating their bodies with identifying ornaments—all by themselves, the Washington Post reports.

The revision comes after study of the Neanderthals who lived in southern Italy 35,000 to 42,000 years ago. They developed all those skills, yet the nearest group of more modernized humans was far to the north, with a buffer group of traditional Neanderthals between them. There’s also been a recent finding that 1% to 4% of the human genome in Europe and Asia contains Neanderthal genes, which means, says one anthropologist, that these early humans were “more like our brothers and sisters than even our cousins.”