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Published:March 20th, 2013 14:03 EST

Scientists Discover Neanderthals Were Not as Social as Modern Humans

By John Pustelnik


Scientists have discovered that Neanderthal brains were better suited for vision, rather than for cognitive tasks such as socializing.


Not only did Neanderthals have better vision than modern humans, they had bigger eyes as well.

Neanderthal skulls from 27,000 to 75,000 years ago were analyzed during the study and compared to modern human skulls.


"Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes and also have bigger bodies than modern humans, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking," said Eiluned Pearce, lead author of the research from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford.


Modern humans and Neanderthals have roughly the same brain size overall, but vary in size when it comes to specific areas of the brain, such as vision and cognition.


"Smaller social groups might have made Neanderthals less able to cope with the difficulties of their harsh Eurasian environments because they would have had fewer friends to help them out in times of need," said Pearce. "Overall, differences in brain organization and social cognition may go a long way towards explaining why Neanderthals went extinct whereas modern humans survived."


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