A study published today announced the development of a 3D model of a Neanderthal brain, created after years of studying fossilized skulls of the Neanderthals. The model confirmed what the scientists have already known, namely, the Neanderthals brain was larger than that of a Homo Sapiens but, on the other hand, it presented a smaller cerebellum. The study aimed to discover the causes for the Neanderthals extinction and, apparently, they disappeared due to the lack of a social life and difficulties in adapting to environmental changes.
The research team mixed together mechanical engineering and physical anthropology with neuroscience, in order to recreate the brain model, as close as possible to the real Neanderthal brain.
To get the job done, they also took about 1,200 MRIs and reshaped them to fit in a Neanderthal skull.
The Neanderthals extinction was due to their poor social life and adaptability to environmental changes
The cerebellum in modern humans has the role of controlling movements and balance but is also known to have some involvement in the learning process, as well as in speech.
Because they had a smaller cerebellum, the Neanderthals could’ve developed difficulties in learning and speaking, facts which might have negatively impacted on the social life of these near-relatives of Homo Sapiens. Besides, a smaller cerebellum caused the occurrence of cognitive impairments which could’ve led to a very poor adaptability to the environmental changes of those times.
Neanderthals crawled on the Earth about 200,000 years ago, in regions such as Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia, and vanished suddenly about 30,000 years ago, a period which coincides with the emergence of the modern human, which led the scientists to believe the two species interbred.
As we speak, non-African human still present about 2% of the Neanderthal DNA.
In conclusion, according to the recreated 3D model of a Neanderthal brain, the Neanderthals extinction occurred due to their poor social life and poor adaptation to changes, all being caused by a smaller cerebellum in comparison to Homo Sapiens.