Posted: Apr 28, 2019 5:24 pm
by Spearthrower
zoon wrote:
Neanderthals have been thought of as ape-like compared to modern humans, which as you say would definitely be wrong...


If you had one suited and booted, I doubt anyone would even notice if he walked down a street in any capital city the world over.

In a way, this is kind of obvious as a very large percentage of modern humans have some Neanderthal DNA so we must have interbred meaning that at the very least sapiens males considered them plausible mates.

Mate recognition is one valid way to define a species, which is intriguing given the long standing argument for considering Neanderthals to be a subspecies of sapiens (albeit temporally reverted). Pearce, 1971; Szalay and Delson, 1979

As an example:

https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sci ... rthalensis

That just straight up calls them Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and our species Homo sapiens sapiens. Perhaps it would be more accurate in the same vein to call us Homo neanderthalensis sapiens, though, given typical classification rules.

I don't really agree with this though, even if it is an interesting way to think. We both share an immediate common ancestor in Africa, probably something like heidelbergensis, and I think anatomical differences warrant giving us our own distinct species.


zoon wrote: - with similar-sized brains, their thinking was presumably not noticeably less complex than ours. It would be very surprising (and extremely interesting) if they had evolved the same size of brain without speech.


On average, their brains were slightly larger, but their encephalization quotient (brain to body size) was slightly lower than modern humans.

However, brain size doesn't necessarily correlate to complex thinking; there are many tasks which are not really involved in thought processes but which take up varying degrees of brain space.

Their eyes were larger than ours, for example, so presumably some of that larger brain capacity was employed in visual tasks; they were also substantially more bulky with barrel chests and heavier frames, so who knows what other somatic functions the brain might have been maintaining without actually offering any more processing power.


zoon wrote: There's nothing wrong with calling them stone-age, though, as all modern humans were also stone-age at the time?


I meant that cartoony picture of club wielding, skin wearing brutes, bopping females on the head to choose mates, only able to say 'ug' or use pidgin English.