We often use the word “neanderthal” interchangeably with “bozo” as an insult to one’s lack of intelligence, but it turns out the Neanderthals were actually fairly similar to modern day humans (no word of the bozo people as of yet, however). In fact, the Neanderthal cranium was significantly larger than our own, indicating a larger brain size.
Here are some facts you might not know about our ancient relatives. They may make you think twice about using neanderthal name in vain.
1. Although modern humans split with the Neanderthal species split over 400,000 years ago, our ancestors interbred with them as recently as 37,000 years ago.
They were known to roast their meals on the fire.
2. Neanderthals even used medicine. Scientists found evidence of two different kinds of anti-inflammatories in Neanderthal teeth.
3. Archaeologists have found a yellow pigment that Neanderthals might have put on their skin. They essentially wore make up!
4. Neanderthals don’t slouch (like everyone once thought)! The first Neanderthal skeleton that was found just so happened to be arthritic.
5. Neanderthal genes actually help fight off viruses such as Epstein-Barr, the cause of several forms of cancer.
6. Neanderthals were known to bond their spears with glue.
7. The Neanderthal genome has been sequenced and geneticists believe it’s possible that a clone could be gestated in a human mother.
8. Cave paintings in El Castillo Cave on the Pas River prove Neanderthals had an eye for visual art.
10. Neanderthals might have spoken in an awful, high pitched voice like Mickey Mouse.
There’s much debate regarding why Neanderthals went extinct some 40,000 years ago. It was once believed that modern humans killed off the Neanderthals in a mass genocide, which doesn’t make us seem very nice. Others, though, think they simply died out because they couldn’t keep up with our superior hunting techniques (for instance, we had dogs).
A third theory is that we absorbed the species into our own through cross-breeding. It has been estimated that 1 to 4 percent of the DNA of Asian and Caucasian Homo sapiens were derived from Neanderthals and not from modern humans. So next time you call someone a Neanderthal, just know that the Neanderthals weren’t no bozos. YA HEAR?