Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Psycho-Shrinking The Neanderthals

On Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald and psychologist Prof. Frederick Coolidge have an entertaining discussion on Neanderthal behavior.

Apparently, the fossil record suggests that the Neanderthals recovered from injuries sustained above the waist. Injuries to the foot though were generally fatal. Prof.  Frederick Coolidge suggested that while Neanderthals took care of their injured, a foot injury meant that that individual couldn't take part in a hunt and move around with the band and may have been left behind to die.

I don't get this. If empathy was extended to individuals who were injured above the waist and presumably couldn't be useful in a hunt in that state and possibly had to be helped move from place to place, why would that empathy stop below the waist?

Here is one for keeps. Frederick Coolidge agrees with Bob McDonald that the Neanderthals would have had a sense of humor, but a slapstick kind of a humor. More like the Three Stooges. They would be lost on puns and word play.

I wonder if Prof. John Hawks considers this damaging enough to be placed in his Neanderthal anti-defamation files!

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