MadSci Network: Evolution

Re: Why does the brain decrease from Neanderthal (1500 cc) to Modern (1400)?

Date: Thu Sep 9 15:40:49 1999
Posted By: Gabriel Vargas, Post-doc/Fellow, Neurosciences/Psychiatry, UCSF
Area of science: Evolution
ID: 933727827.Ev

Neanderthals are closely related to modern humans and some believe we 
interbred and thus have neandertal genes. Others argue that Neandertals were 
outcompeted by modern humans. (Neanderthal comes from the German Neander 
Valley where the first remains were found. Since German changed the spelling 
of "valley" from Thal to tal, one can use the "h" or not).The following is 
from a description of the skull of Neanderthals:
   We look at the skull closely because it's here that we find the main 
distinguishing features.

   As the skull was generally longer and wider, the  average cranial 
capacity of the Neanderthals is found to be slightly larger than that of 
moden humans; 1500 c.c. compared to 1375 c.c. (c.c. is cubic centimetres). 
We can't necessarily say that the Neanderthals were smarter because they had
bigger brains. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest that they may have 
been dumber than the modern humans who lived at the same time as they did. . 
In any case, this difference isn't all that great. 20% of us have a cranial 
capacity greater than the Neanderthal average.

hope this helps
gabriel vargas md/phd

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