Neanderthals, who went extinct about 30,000 years ago, were smart, tough and remarkably resilient. They created some of our earliest art in Spanish caves more than 40,000 years old.
They didn't die off, we "mated" them out of existence. In the January 26-27th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Chip Walter writes: "In 2010 researchers found genetic proof that our forbears had, as one scientist put it, been 'up to no good with Neanderthal women behind boulders on the tundra.' Thus, if your ancestors hail anywhere from Europe to the islands of Southeast Asia, you likely have some Neanderthal blood."
On average, their brains were larger than ours--so why did we survive and they didn't?
They may have had bigger brains than us homo sapiens, but they never developed a spear they could throw. Instead, they wrestled large prey down by stabbing them with 15-foot spears, putting themselves in physical danger.
Was it a lack of innovation that caused their demise? And if so, why did this happen? We live in an age when pundits threaten that our current lack of innovation may soon cause OUR demise.
The answer lies in our long childhood. Walter writes: "No other primate has ever experienced a childhood as lengthy as Homo sapiens. It's during our childhoods that we Homo sapiens distance ourselves from the commands of our genes and develop the unique traits that make each of us the charming and talented people we grow up to be. More than any other animal's, our brain develops outside the womb, and those early experiences profoundly shape our personalities and view of the world. In the end, it makes us remarkably good problem-solvers--the ultimate survival skill."
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