The artwork accompanying a recent essay makes them look positively human. Just where Ooga! Ooga! has got himself to now, we are not sure. Meanwhile,
Scientific discoveries never occur in a social vacuum. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus formalised the ladder of life in 1758, when he crowned white European males as the ‘type specimen’ of our species. At a stroke of his pen, everyone else on the planet was demoted to a nonstandard, inferior version of humanity – identified by supposedly less advanced physiques, character and culture. In such a world, it was logical that the skull and bones from the Neander Valley were immediately compared with ethnic groups branded the most ‘brutal’ by their colonisers.
In 1863, the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley claimed a striking similarity between Neanderthal brow ridges and the ‘lowering, threatening expression’ he perceived in the skulls of Aboriginal peoples – ignoring the clear difference in anatomical shape. The European intellectual elite were mostly blind to the possibility that Neanderthals were evidence of a common heritage for living people. Instead, they saw ‘scientific’ proof of the racist hierarchies that positioned non-Europeans as less evolved – although remaining puzzled that ‘savages’ nevertheless appeared to possess brains as big as those filling their own top hats. Up until the 1960s, scientists were still publishing theories of human evolution proposing that different races had budded off the human family tree sooner than others, with Caucasians the most recent arrivals, and therefore the least ‘primitive. Rebecca Wragg Sykes, “[article title]” at Aeon
Some of us remember all the way back to the Neanderthal art bombshell. (2012) They weren’;t supposed to be able to do art.
But there is the
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See also: How Neanderthals Got The Role Of The Subhumans
Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?