Let’s talk about Neanderthals

I saw several articles this week about Neanderthals and how diverse and developed they were, so of course that led me to reading more articles about Neanderthals. And given that ancient humans interbred with Neanderthals, I

I chose just two for West Bremer Radio.

Lower pain thresholds

Neanderthals apparently had a lower threshold for pain – and you may have inherited it. A new study of 7,000 people has found that those carrying three Neanderthal gene variants are actually more sensitive to pain from skin pricking after prior exposure to mustard oil.

The team measured the pain sensitivity of 1,623 Colombians, finding that the SCN9A variants were associated with a lower pain threshold in response to skin pricking after exposure to mustard oil (an irritant), but not in response to heat or pressure. They also found that carrying all three variants was associated with greater sensitivity than carrying only one.

They also analysed genetic samples from 5,971 people from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, revealing that the three Neanderthal variants are more prevalent in populations with the highest Native American ancestry.

We’re going on a lion hunt

A fancy fur pelt and some unusual bone markings have provided the first direct evidence of Neanderthals hunting cave lions. Not only that, but the artifacts also signify the earliest direct instance of a large predator kill in human history. The first piece of evidence comes from the remains of a Eurasian cave lion, dated to 55,000 to 45,000 years old, discovered at Unicorn Cave in Germany.

The researchers believe the bony remains once formed a lion skin pelt, which was then abandoned at the site. Most incredibly, it looks like the pelt was fashioned to include the paw bones of the lion’s claw. This was no accident, the researchers argue, and indicates that exceptional care was taken to craft this special piece of clothing. 

Including the claw requires much more time and you need to pay much more attention. The significance of this lion pelt is not only the fact that it’s associated with a large carnivore that was so charismatic, but also the fact that the whole processing of the skin needs to be much more in-depth.

Quite why they did this is unclear. It could have been used during a ritual or as a teaching element, to show to others what a predator looks like and how dangerous it can be.

It could also have been a trophy, used to show off the bravery and hunting skills of this Neanderthal clan.

I talked about this with Danny Hoyland on West Bremer Radio on 14 October 2023. Listen live each week: Saturday 7.40 am, West Bremer Radio.

Source: You May Have Neanderthal DNA To Thank For Your Low Pain Threshold and First Clear Evidence Of Neanderthals Hunting Lions Shows They Were Not Boneheads

Image: File:Neanderthal skull from Forbes’ Quarry.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

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