Most popular Neanderthal discoveries of 2008

December 25th, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 25 (ANI): New Scientist has outlined the most popular Neanderthal discoveries of the year 2008.

They are:

Genome secrets revealed:
A team in Germany is has released early details of rough draft of the nuclear genome from a Neanderthal found in Croatia. Early indications are that he and his ancestors did not share a bed with humans. The completed work should be announced in weeks.

Big nose strikes again:
Neanderthals large schnozzles have puzzled anthropologists for more than a century. New research suggests that their big noses are due to an evolutionary throw of the dice.

Our brainy cousins:
Neanderthals also had big brains - bigger than our own. However, new skull reconstructions suggest that Neanderthal brains developed at the same rate as humans living around the same time. Modern human babies have slightly smaller brains than both, leading researchers to speculate that humans traded infant intelligence for faster growth rates.

More DNA revelations:
The same German team sequencing the complete Neanderthal genome also decoded the far shorter mitochondrial genome. The sequence casts further doubt on human-Neanderthal hanky-panky and hints that Neanderthal populations were small.

A voice from the past:
Based on estimates for the dimensions of the Neanderthal vocal tract, researchers synthesized a Neanderthal voice. All he said was e, but the researchers tell us they are working on a whole word for 2010.

Making themselves pretty:
The discovery of rudimentary crayons also hints that Neanderthals spoke. Researchers discovered black manganese pigments in Neanderthal settlements that may have been used to create body decorations - and art is communication and that implies the ability to talk, according to researchers.

Master tool makers:
When they werent powdering their big noses, Neanderthals made stone tools. Damn good ones, claims an anthropologist who used Neanderthal technology to better understand the process of stone tool-making. Their tools waste less rock, suffer fewer breaks, and have more cutting edge for their mass than human tools from the same era.

The butchers of Gibraltar:
One of the things they used these tools for was hunting and butchering animals. For Neanderthals that lived off southern Spain, this included dolphins and seals. Excavations of two caves revealed bones from both marine mammals. (ANI)

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