Neanderthals verus the Human Army

[adsense float=’left’]About 30,000 years ago, according the anthropologists, the Neanderthals went extinct. The reason was that Homo-Sapiens moved into their neighborhood.

But why would that change mean the demise of the species? After all, it was the Neanderthals home turf, and there were much bigger and had bigger brains. Yes… they had bigger brains.

Thomas Wynn, Frederick L. Coolidge of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, theorize that us Homo-Sapiens had something slightly different about our brains than the Neanderthals. We had larger frontal lobes in our brains, which is where we process abstract thoughts.

The difference is that we had some individuals that were “Strategists,” and could increase the efficiency of our efforts better than the Neandertals could. We didn’t have to fight them. We just relegated them to small pockets of land and took all the resources out of the area. They probably starved to death.

Now this is incredible, considering that the Neanderthals thrived during the European ice age, which probably had little resources to sustain them.

Nandertal comparisonHow do we know the Neanderthals didn’t do much strategy? There are several clues. First is their physiology. The shape of their skulls tells us a lot about the structure of their brains. The Homo-Sapiens, while having a smaller brain, has a projecting forehead area, meaning that the frontal lobe is bigger. The Neanderthal skull has a sloping forehead, and therefore smaller frontal lobes. [Correction, Hat Tip to: Professor Fred Coolidge, who writes: “Neandertals did not have smaller frontal lobes than Homo sapiens! Most anthropologists thought so, at least up until about 2004, when it was empirically shown that their frontal lobes were the same (relative) size as Homo sapiens.”]

The other evidence, according to professors Wynn and Collidge, is the fossil record which shows the stresses of daily life. They noted that there are a lot of broken bones in the upper torso of many Neandertals bodies, which suggests how they killed their food. Instead of throwing their spears at prey, they poked them. This led to a lot of close encounters with the animals, and a lot more injuries.

Finally, they look at the artwork left behind by the Neanderthals. During the same time period where the Homo-Sapiens were creating elaborate burial sites that included wonderful works of beadwork, the Neanderthal grave sites were very primitive. And the cave drawings differed too, where the Homo-Sapiens were using much more color and 3D images, the Neanderthals drawings were much more simplistic.

As Wynn and Coolidge put it:

“In the last 100,000 years or so, a genetic mutation or epigenetic event might have occurred in Homo sapiens that enhanced our executive functions beyond that of Neandertals.”[2]

It may be that the event is what allowed the four personality temperaments to come about. Where the Neanderthals had just two temperaments (Warriors and Logisticals), Homo-Sapiens now had four (including the other two temperaments of Strategists and Morale Officers). This created a race of beings that simply worked together better, allowing us to draw on the capacities of others to make up for individual weaknesses.

We became an efficient army, competing against an adversary that didn’t have Generals or care-takers that got the warriors back into the fight.


[1] The Expert Neandertal mind

Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 46, Issue 4, April 2004, Pages 467-487

Thomas Wynn, Frederick L. Coolidge

[2] The Biggest Myth About Phineas Gage





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