Neanderthal Brains Retained Infantile Shape

A study using CT scans suggests that Neanderthal brains, like that of modern humans, grew steadily into adulthood. But unlike modern human brains, Neanderthal brains did not change shape as they grew. This may explain why Neanderthals had a similar brain size, but less intelligence:

Scientists have shown that Neandertal brains are about the same size as ours. Yet our Paleolithic brethren are not known for having been great scholars. To probe this cognitive conundrum, researchers took CT scans of 11 Neandertal brains, including one newborn. And they compared these images to those of modern humans.

They found that baby braincases are similar in size and shape, regardless of their parentage. All are elongated, most likely to smooth passage through the birth canal. But modern human baby brains grow more globular in the first year of life, changes that reflect a massive wave of neural development. That phase change is absent in Neandertals, whose brains retain that extended newborn shape throughout their lives.


Link | Photo by Flickr user Matt Seleskey used under Creative Commons license

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it really irks me when they're classified as "less intelligent" rather than "didn't process thought the same way" as modern humans- because they were clearly smart enough to figure out a way to survive for so long.
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Shame that with all that extra brainpower, we modern humans are destroying our planet at an ever increasing rate without being able to do someting about it...
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