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Science

Did Large Eyes Lead To Neanderthals' Demise? 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Bigger eyes and a corresponding greater allocation of the brain to process visual information is the most recent theory about the reasons that led to the extinction of Neanderthals, our closest relatives. Neanderthals split from the primate line that gave rise to modern humans about 400,000 years ago. This group then moved to Eurasia and completely disappeared from the world about 30,000 years back. Other studies have shown that Neanderthals might have lived near the Arctic Circle around 31,000 to 34,000 years ago."
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Did Large Eyes Lead To Neanderthals' Demise?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:01AM (#43201395)

    Neanderthals died out because they weren't smart enough. In other news, they had big eyes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by promythyus (1519707)

      Lies. Neanderthals live among us, just take a look at your co-workers.

    • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:43AM (#43201713)

      I thought it was because they didn't know how to brew beer.

    • by Udom (978789)
      "corresponding greater allocation of the brain to process visual information". As both hunters and hunted, humans and neanderthals would both need the best systems possible. The size of the eyes would be far less significant than what the brain does with the information they collect... Humans may simply have lived in larger groups, allowing them to out compete Neanderthals by killing the males and stealing the females... just as we do today amongst ourselves.
      • Or it could have been the other way around: a handful of skilled Neanderthals could have taken out a village of less capable humans, and afterwards made off with their women (why not, right guys?).

        Or they could have easily interacted with each other, lived among each other, and simply interbred.

    • Or Homo Sapiens & Neanderthals interbred, and the hybrid offspring proved so be so superior to either of the parent species, that it completely replaced them.

      Ask yourself, aside from relatively recent immigrants, are there any pure Homo Sapiens in the northern altitudes of Europe? Doesn't every European carry a percentage of Neanderthal DNA in them, no exceptions? I believe the Asians may be included in this as well (they also have some Neanderthal DNA in them), if I am remember an article I read recent

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        We all carry "a percentage of neanderthal DNA" because we share well over 99% of our DNA with them. In fact, we share well over 90% with most mammals.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      But many apes survived in spite of not being smart enough and competing for the same biological niche (at some point). Why?

      The answer is most likely in the energy requirement indeed. Homo Sapiens are exceptionally energy efficient, from our gastrointestinal tract which is optimized to eat cooked food (we lack entzymes needed to break down raw meat and pathogens it may contain properly for example) to our build (we lack a lot of musculature that Neanderthals had) to our sensory organs (we have terrible sense

  • Dupe (Score:5, Funny)

    by rsmith-mac (639075) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:01AM (#43201397)

    Did large eyes lead to Neanderthals' Demise?

    No. But perhaps if they had stuck around the large eyes would help the Slashdot editors spot their dupes.

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/03/13/1247255/manga-girls-beware-extra-large-eyes-caused-neanderthals-demise [slashdot.org]

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      No. But perhaps if they had stuck around the large eyes would help the Slashdot editors spot their dupes.

      , yes but you are implying that the Neanderthals would do a better job than /. editors (not a hard thing to do obviously), but that means that the Neanderthals would outcompete the /. editors and then would there be a /. in the future, implying that smaller eyes of /. editors caused their demise and the victory for the Neanderthals? Unless of-course the Neanderthals are already running /. and are trying to hide in the open, by pretending not to see the dupes so that we would not think they have big eyes. B

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        obviously that's "breeding" program not "breading" program, unless the Neanderthals want to bake bread and cookies out of humans.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Perhaps that is a little closer to reality. Neanderthals included homo sapiens in their dietary regime and homo sapiens where far more effective at mass retaliatory revenge attacks. So the mass homo sapiens opposition to cannibalism could stem from a history of being preyed upon by Neanderthals and their larger war party attacks against those that would kill and eat them.

          • Predatory mammals are normally territorial, both with their own and competing species eg: Lions and Hyenas, humans and Neanderthals would have fought over the best hunting and foraging ground, although there is some evidence Neanderthals preferred to live in the gullys near running water while humans preferred the high ground, as they still do today (judging by real estate prices). Also it's a natural tendency for humans to see their own tribe as the only "real" humans, for example tribes that live near chi
            • by rtb61 (674572)

              The difference is homo sapiens could see beyond their own hamlet, to surrounding hamlets and the image of a tribe gained dominance over just the hamlet. Thus several hamlets hunting parties could form together to create a war party and this war party could specifically target and eliminate threats to all the hamlets that formed the tribe. So whilst less physically able individually they were able to attack with superior number and over an extended time, beyond normal hunting patterns.

              Modern day aborigina

        • obviously that's "breeding" program not "breading" program, unless the Neanderthals want to bake bread and cookies out of humans.

          Are these cookies made from real Girl Scouts?

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Well, you think the Neanderthals have such discriminating exquisite taste that they would be able to tell the difference between cookies baked with Girl Scouts rather than with, let's say US Congressmen?

            I hope the Neanderthals go for the Congressmen first and leave the Girl Scouts for dessert.

          • obviously that's "breeding" program not "breading" program, unless the Neanderthals want to bake bread and cookies out of humans.

            Are these cookies made from real Girl Scouts?

            Mine are. But only the ones with real mince meat fillings.

        • unless the Neanderthals want to bake bread and cookies out of humans.

          That depends on what happens over the next 800 millennia [wikipedia.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the BIG TITS of Neanderthal women you'd have had BIG EYES too. Neanderthal tits were big but tough as leather. I know. I married one.

  • Disappeared? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WillKemp (1338605) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:26AM (#43201473) Homepage

    Neanderthals didn't disappear. As a distinct culture they "disappeared" from the archaeological record, but that certainly doesn't mean Neanderthals disappeared from existence. A big chunk of the world's population have a significant proportion of Neanderthal genes. You can't say a population went extinct if their descendants are still alive!

    • by Calydor (739835)

      You can't say a population went extinct if their descendants are still alive!

      Dinosaurs and birds spring to mind. Are you saying the dinosaurs aren't extinct because modern birds are very likely to be their descendants?

      • Re:Disappeared? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Andtalath (1074376) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:30AM (#43201661)

        Actually, the more we learn about bird/dinosaur similarities, the more it seems like dinosaurs aren't extinct.
        The genetics between birds and dinosaurs are very few.

        So, scientifically speaking, saying dinosaurs are extinct isn't entirely correct, or rather, almost meaningless since dinosaur isn't a very well-defined scientific term.

        • Many Synapsids would be identified by most people as "dinosaurs" and a few of their descendents are still around today and using slashdot ...

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        You can't say a population went extinct if their descendants are still alive!

        Dinosaurs and birds spring to mind. Are you saying the dinosaurs aren't extinct because modern birds are very likely to be their descendants?

        Walking in to the aviary at the local zoo with Richard Attenborough saying "Welcome to Avifaunic Park" just doesn't seem to have the same ring to it.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Yes you can if the species is entirely gone. The "hard definition" is can to individuals breed and produce fertile offspring. So while we may have some of their DNA still in our population mostly they are now considered to be a district species, so they are extinct. An interesting question is could you breed a Neanderthal and a modern person, and would the offspring be fertile, I wounded if we are different species under the older firmer definition.

      • An interesting question is could you breed a Neanderthal and a modern person, and would the offspring be fertile, I wounded if we are different species under the older firmer definition.

        Most African people don't have Neanderthal DNA, so they would be the true 'modern person' if by that one means 'a continuous non-Neanderthal genetic line from the 400,000-year split'. The Neanderthals and descendants of the African people interbred, so non-African people are either a new breed or Neanderthals that took on

    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      -1, Copypasta

    • by Palamos (1379347)
      You raise an interesting point and of course you're correct. I suspect that the truth is that Neanderthal women were really ugly, mingers (that's with a soft "g" as in Ming vase) if you like, this is certainly the case in all of the films on the subject that I've seen. Now the fact that we have some Neanderthal genes suggests that human women have always liked a bad lad and so some interbred, nothing wrong with that but shocking at the time I dare say. So here we are, all with a bit of Neanderthal in us
    • I don't have time to cite references right now, but one of the more interesting theories I saw involved RH factor (the gene that determines whether you're A+/B+/AB+/O+ or A-/B-/AB-/O-. Apparently, RH-negative women have a MUCH higher chance of dying in childbirth if the baby is RH-positive. Suppose, for a moment, that in the very beginning, Neanderthal women were universally RH-negative, and Homo Sapiens (men and women) moving into Europe from Africa were universally RH-positive.

      Assume that for whatever rea

    • Neanderthals weren't a distinct culture. They were a different species from our ancestors at the time.

      A big chunk of the world's population have a significant proportion of Neanderthal genes.

      Citation needed. I studied Anthropology in the 90s, and I don't think there's credible proof that modern humans have Neanderthal genes in any significant amount, or that Neanderthals mated with our ancestors at all.

  • even with their big eyes - The double post that is.
  • big eyes (Score:2, Insightful)

    Horses have huge eyes and aren't going extinct any time soon.
  • Has anyone taken a close look at the Inuit? They may have more Neanderthal genes than most.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The neanderthals didn't extinct. They lost all their hair, lot of weight, their eyes got even bigger and they were transformed into grey aliens. Well, at least some of them. The rest got sick and turned green. That's why we don't find neanderthals fossils lately: they are all in UFOs.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "That's why we don't find neanderthals fossils lately: they are all in UFOs."

      But one question remains: Did they eat the pudding?

    • by rossdee (243626)

      "The neanderthals didn't extinct."

      Extinct is a verb now?

      " They lost all their hair, lot of weight, their eyes got even bigger and they were transformed into grey aliens."

      The grey aliens are the Asgard - they were around elsewhere in the galaxy long before any Homo Sapiens including Neanderthals were on earth

    • They were fairly advanced: When Neanderthals threw revolving bones up in the sky, they turned into space stations...
  • DUP... oh, too late, never mind.

  • The latest research I'm familiar with says the Neanderthals probably never went extinct at all, but rather inter-bread into larger human populations and essentially merged with humans. The large eyes thing might have played a role, but I don't see how since the premise that they became extinct due to a weakness (or at all) isn't broadly accepted anymore.
  • Dice is trying to revive the old Slashdot by upping the frequency of dupes.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:38AM (#43202145)

    It feels to me like the editors never actually look at the site, and they have such short memory that they become useless as editors.

  • by Sqreater (895148)
    If nature needed more neaderthal brain area, she would have created it. Big eyes are meaningless as a reason for the extinction of the species.
  • No, but small brains lead to posting duplicate stories: . http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/03/13/1247255/manga-girls-beware-extra-large-eyes-caused-neanderthals-demise [slashdot.org] [slashdot.org]

  • "... they'd seen too much."
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:38AM (#43202473) Homepage

    I rarely comment on /. innner workings but honestly, samzenpus needs some retraining. Last night it was the 'microsoft killing windows phone' fantasy headline.. now an obvious dupe.. among quite a few others of recent vintage.

  • Nobody cares.

    Not about the original article or whether it was correct.

  • "Neanderthals may not have been able to coordinate such a large social group as modern humans".

    It is quite possible that modern humans are not able to coordinate as large social groups as they now have to. No system of government or economic management has yet been proven over a long enough period to engender confidence. For example, no system of paper money has ever lasted more than a century or so without undergoing catastrophic inflation. We are just about getting to the critical point - and it shows.

    Nei

    • by jandrese (485)

      For example, no system of paper money has ever lasted more than a century or so without undergoing catastrophic inflation.

      You're going to need to define "catastrophic" inflation, because we certainly have paper money systems that are more than a century old and still working. The US dollar alone is 228 years old, and the Great British Pound is approaching 300 years old. Have they had inflation over time? Yes, in fact that's considered normal and healthy for a currency. Have they had periods of increase

      • by Archtech (159117)

        You're going to need to define "catastrophic" inflation, because we certainly have paper money systems that are more than a century old and still working. The US dollar alone is 228 years old, and the Great British Pound is approaching 300 years old. Have they had inflation over time? Yes, in fact that's considered normal and healthy for a currency. Have they had periods of increased inflation, yes, but never so bad as to wipe out people's savings like with some other currencies (examples include the German Mark after WW1 and the Ruble after the fall of communism in the former Soviet Union).

        The US dollar and the pound sterling have experienced what I would consider seriously harmful inflation. In the last 100 years, each of them has lost almost all its value. It's notoriously hard to arrive at a fair comparison, but if you stick to things like loaves of bread, bottles of wine, horses, clothes, houses, etc. one pound today is worth something like a penny in 1913 - a fall in value of about 99.6 percent. I consider that catastrophic for individuals, and over time for institutions too.

        To zoom in o

        • by jandrese (485)
          I'm not sure how 1 pound is now 1 penny equates to 99.6% inflation... Anyway a mere 100% inflation over 100 years is pretty darn good. It appears that your definition of catastrophic inflation is any inflation at all.
  • Re: Our study provides a more direct approach by estimating how much of their brain was allocated to cognitive functions, including the regulation of social group size; a smaller size for the latter would have had implications for their level of social complexity and their ability to create, conserve and build on innovations.

    As a visual thinker myself, much of my "idea processing" is visual. (I come from a long line of professional artists and cartoonists.) I create little visual mental models to emulate an

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