A remarkable finding of this five-year study is that Neanderthals grow their teeth significantly faster than members of our own species, including some of the earliest groups of modern humans to leave Africa between 90-100,000 years ago. The Neanderthal pattern appears to be intermediate between early members of our genus (e.g., Homo erectus) and living people, suggesting that the characteristically slow development and long childhood is a recent condition unique to our own species. This extended period of maturation may facilitate additional learning and complex cognition, possibly giving early Homo sapiens a competitive advantage over their contemporaneous Neanderthal cousins.Or it may just be an evolutionary adaptation to a warmer climate and less of a need to maintain selection for a quicker development. This is especially true in light of the fact that there is no evidence that modern humans were any more intelligent than their Neandertal precursors. As I have said before, if you lived in a world in which the tundra line was at Vienna, you'd have a hard time adapting, too.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Modern Humans Have Slower Developmental Timing than Neandertals
ScienceDaily has a story in which a synchrotron x-ray machine has revealed that Neandertals had faster developmental timing patterns than modern humans and that this may have given modern human an advantage. They write: