Monday 23 April 2018

Neanderthals' poor art skills 'contributed to their demise'

Photo: (AP)
Photo: (AP)

Henry Bodkin

Neanderthals, as the name suggests, were not great thinkers, and consequently their occasional forays into cave drawing left a lot to be desired.

But while the dubious artistic prowess of these prehistoric cousins to early humans may not seem of much importance, new research has found it is closely related to their inferior hunting skills and may ultimately explain why they became extinct.

Analysis of charcoal drawings and engravings by primitive homo sapiens reveals elaborate depictions of animals like lions and deer in a variety of scenes.

Of neanderthal art, however, there is virtually no evidence; what disputed examples there are mainly comprise rudimentary straight lines and no recognisable images.

Now scientists at the University of California say this is closely related to a lack of hand-eye coordination.

Existing between 120,000 and 35,000 years ago, Neanderthals were able to feed themselves on less dangerous animals like horses, reindeer and bison, meaning they could afford to get close and rarely needed to throw their spears.

In the new study Professor Richard Coss argues the mental faculties which allow a human to visualise the arc of a spear are very similar to those which enable drawing, putting neanderthals at a disadvantage.

Irish Independent

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