All Humans Are a Little Bit Neanderthal, According to New Research

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I thought this was well established? We all have some components of the Neanderthal genome? What’s new about this article?


@glipsnort is likely more up to date on this than me.

The more I learn about Neanderthals the more I am baffled by how little they achieved. The Neanderthals lived for something like 300,000 years. That is an almost inconceivable amount of time. Yet they left us no cognitive heritage whatsoever. They left us no buildings, no books, no historical records, no scientific theories, nothing. I am very disappointed with Neanderthals. These days people say “Oh they weren’t just grunting cavepeople, they had fire, and tools, and language, and religion, and art, and toes”, and all that is true, but they seemed to have been incredibly uncooperative and they apparently made a deliberate choice to totally de-prioritize knowledge building and an understanding of the world around them. Paradoxically the more I learn about them, the more they seem less like us.

They had 300.000 years to develop stuff like science, and they didn’t. Then they had at least another 40,000 years of interaction with humans, and they didn’t help us at all. Instead they just left us a bunch of antique DNA. Well thanks for nothing, Neanderthals. Can you imagine living for at least 40,000 years with a kindred species, the species on the planet which is the closest to you in the entire world, and just not helping? I think they didn’t like homo sapiens at all, and frankly I think they suffered from extremely dysfunctional societies.

Meanwhile, behaviourally modern homo sapiens have only been around for about 50,000 years, and look what we’ve achieved in that time. I am glad I am a homo sapiens, not a neanderthal. I think we try a lot harder than they did, we put in a lot more work, and we’re a lot more aware of the world around us and our responsibility to it.


Same is to be said of ancient Homo sapiens…

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They didn’t have nearly as much time as Neanderthals, but yes they achieved very little. Still, I think ancient homo sapiens passed on their knowledge and skills to later homo sapiens. I don’t think they hid it away in a cave secretly, forcing us to learn everything from scratch. I think the Neanderthals were hostile to us and wanted the planet to themselves.

As far as I know, sub-Saharan African populations were not thought to have had substantial input from Neanderthal genomes (excluding recent non-African back-migration).


Neanderthals may have lacked, or had lesser amounts of, some our more problematic aspects like greed, competitiveness, envy, etc. that can also be motivators for accomplishing great things. IOW, they might have been too “chill” to advance beyond what they did.

If so, it would be an interesting parallel to A&E being seduced by sin and losing the natural grace that Neanderthals May have had.


That is an interesting question, but it would suggest that they were cognitively very different to us.

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The two million year progression of Homo Erectus to Homo Sapien was slow. So was the progress of Homo Sapiens from 200,000 to 12,000 years ago. And you can say that mankind’s progress from 10,000 years ago to today was slow. I think what you are seeing is that technology advances mankind exponentially. Two million years of stone tools, 10,000 years of agriculture, 100 years of industrialization, and a few decades of the internet. Mankind has achieved a lot all by itself not needing to invent any God for help. Neanderthals were probably quite happy and content with their lives, their families, hunting, and surviving in colder climates of the world. Who are we to judge Neanderthals as a species? Blue whales seems happy being blue whales for tens of millions of years.

You might enjoy this book:


I think it was at lightning speed. In only 10,000 years, look what we’ve achieved. We’ve gone from picking berries to landing on the moon.

That is a terrifying amount of time to be using stone tools.

Much more intelligent and knowledgeable people, who they didn’t help.

There are no good grounds to have expectations for the technological progress of blue whales.


I think every generations does this with their parents generation.

Probably to some extent. But to be serious, modern homo sapiens have succeeded beyond any other species because we’ve had the ability to gather detailed and sophisticated information systematically, store it over long periods, and communicate it reliably to the next generation. And we’ve become increasingly good at doing this. Our expectations of ourselves have rightly risen along with this. We’re brilliant, and we’re becoming increasingly more brilliant.


agree 100% and I look forward to the next few decades of human progress as we jettison the Gods we made up thousands of years ago. These Gods served their purpose and now are ready for the scrapheap of bad human ideas.

If you like Sapien, you’ll love Homo Deus - Man who becomes God


Jared Diamond’s book/documentary “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is fascinating (you may be well aware of Diamond’s work, but it’s worth mentioning for others to check out). The right combination of ideas and resources may be able to kick off lightning fast progress. In fact, the discovery of how to make beer from barley may have kicked the whole thing off (at least it makes for a good story, even if not true). Diamond also tries to tackle the question of why some human populations advanced technologically while others did not. Is the difference between H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis similar to the difference between Columbus and the indigenous tribes of the West Indies?


Yes I have read it. I think he make a very good argument in general, but the backlash from the academy has been pretty fierce. In some circles his argument is regarded as geographical determinism, and in some circles it’s regarded as downright racist.

I am still working my way through the academic criticisms of GGS, but I have to say that there are some bedrock facts which are very difficult to get around. The Australian Aborigines have been in Australia for at least 40,000 years, which is a staggering amount of time, and some explanation has to be found for why their technology reached a certain level and then stayed static until colonization. It’s not because they had the best possible tools for their environment. We know that coastal tribes traded with nearby islands specifically in order to gain items they could not get in Australia. We also know that as soon as the Aborigines started interacting with Europeans they very quickly saw the value in certain European items, which they traded for and adopted practically as soon as possible.

I do not think this is accurate. It seems they did see advances in technology.

I said they had advances in technology; I mentioned their technology reached a certain level. However, they did not progress to the agricultural revolution, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, or the medical revolution. They remained at a pre-modern level of technology, and most anthropologists dispute that they even reached the agricultural revolution.

Contrary to earlier anthropologists, there is now agreement that some tribes practiced micro-cultivation, micro-agriculture, and limited plant domestication, as well as forms of aquaculture, irrigation, and deforestation. However they did not practice animal domestication, large scale crop cultivation, pottery, and sedentary agriculturalism. Even recent studies by Bruce Pascoe and Bill Gammage, which have rehabilitated the history of Aboriginal agriculture considerably, don’t make those claims.

The lack of pottery particularly puzzling given how useful it would have been to them. Additionally, different tribes progressed at different levels; not every tribe had the same level of technology and food production, and some tribes appear to have borrowed technology from neighbors who had already held it for many years prior. This indicates that geographical factors may have had an impact.


As I read through this thread this morning I too immediately thought of Jared Diamond’s ideas.

I don’t know much about the history of biogeography and animal domestication but to me it seems obvious that some regions had major advantages because of the types of animals which lived there at those times. (For example, the lack of an equine species amenable to domestication could slow the transmission of new ideas and technologies.)


I immediately thought of something very, very different.

Say, Allen, can I ask you a question? You know Sal Cordova? Well, he’s got Neanderthal genes and you’ve got Neanderthal genes. You’re both partly Neanderthal. Are you two related?

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