Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear. Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert on predator-prey relations and their impacts on the evolution of behavior.
Neanderthals used thrusting spears to bring down tamer prey in Eurasia, while Homo sapiens, or modern humans, spent hundreds of thousands of years spear-hunting wary and dangerous game on the open grasslands of Africa.
Richard Coss, a professor emeritus of psychology, says the hand-eye coordination involved in both hunting with throwing spears and drawing representational art could be one factor explaining why modern humans became smarter than Neanderthals. Paper. (paywall) – Richard G. Coss. Drawings of Representational Images by Upper Paleolithic Humans and their Absence in Neanderthals Might Reflect Historical Differences in Hunting Wary Game. Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, 2018 More.
Maybe, maybe not. But a nice change from the “Neanderthals were stupid” literature from people who maybe could not bring down a house fly.
See also: Max Planck Institute: Neanderthals thought like we do
Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents