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Neanderthals, the first true artists on the planet

Proves that they were not brutish at all. For to long the image of Neanderthals has been presented as a primitive and simple creature: a hulking mass of muscle, all brawn with no brains, brutish, dim and mannerless cretins. Maybe it is their famously protruding brow ridge that has portrayed the Neanderthals as too dumb to use language or symbolism, but somehow Neanderthals picked up a reputation that is entirely undeserved.

Cave art, dating back approximately 64,000 years — over 20,000 years before the appearance of modern humans in Europe, with red ochre paints — indicates that the art had to have been made by Neanderthals, suggesting that they were creative, planned for the future, and had the ability to ascribe meaning to symbols.

Compared with modern-day humans, Neanderthals were shorter, stockier and heavier built, with bigger bulges on their bones where muscles attach. Their brains were slightly larger than ours. Archaeological sites proves that Neanderthals used personal ornaments including bird feathers, claws and shells smeared with ochre, indicating that they possessed the power of abstract thought and expression.

Alongside the idea that Neanderthals were scavengers came the notion that they ate a very limited diet, consisting mostly of large or medium-size mammals — dietary constraints that would have left them less adaptable to changes in the environment than early modern humans. Research indicates that they were not cumbersome hunters. They had the brains and guile to catch and eat birds. Forensic analysis of hunting sites also reveals interesting Neanderthal hunting tactics. They used the landscape to funnel prey towards bottlenecks, where they were then able to ambush and kill. The Neanderthal hunters then butchered selectively.

Neanderthals never entirely vanished.

They live on a little bit in people today.

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