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The epic struggle of the human experience

February 16th, 2014
05:42 PM ET

A special, extended version of Christiane Amanpour's interview with leading paleaontologist Chris Stringer at London's Natural History Museum from our program earlier in the week.


Filed under:  Climate • Imagine a World
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    The Neanderthal simulation he showed was not correct. Their heads were very different. They had almost no forehead at all – their head sloped sharply backward just above their VERY prominent eye ridges, which were not shown properly, either. In addition, their skulls, while they had no foreheads, the back side of the skull bulged in what is called an "occipital bun." There was none on the simulation of Neanderthal, either. On top of all that, they had no chins. Just a forward jutting jaw, like a muzzle. The rest of their bodies were not so different from today's people, but they were very robust, with barrel chests and heavy, very strong bones. They were undoubtedly very strong, though much shorter than today's people, but were still nothing to tangle with.

    It may not be fully determined yet about their intellectual capabilities. Our brains are smaller, in terms of cubic centimeters of space inside. The Neanderthals are thought to have been just as intelligent as we are, but in a different manner. And maybe even a bit smarter, in some ways. But WE have large frontal lobes in our skulls, which accounts for our high foreheads. This part of the brain is involved in speech and inventiveness. It is what gave us enormous flexibility and the ability to innovate. Thus, we created both art and science. It is speculated that Neanderthals rear brains, which deal with sensation, memory and vision, had developed stored memories that told them everything they needed to know in order to survive, and that they inherited their memories from all the others who went before them. They would not need to create or invent, because they only needed to refer to the knowledge they were born with. This isn't proven. But since they were a very successful race, and thrived for many hundreds of thousands of years, and it could NOT have been due to their ability to learn and adapt, the theory about inherited memories would seem the only explanation of their lengthy survival. Without one or the other, they would have gone extinct rapidly.

    Surely this man knows all these things about Neanderthals, yet he treats that statue of a Neanderthal as though it were anatomically correct, especially in the head, when it was anything BUT correct.

    I have to wonder why?

    February 17, 2014 at 2:02 am | Reply
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