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Palaeontology

Did large eyes lead to Neanderthals' demise ?

By T.K. Randall
March 14, 2013 · Comment icon 54 comments

Image Credit: Ryan Somma
A new study of Neanderthal skulls has suggested that their large eyes may have been their downfall.
The reason Neanderthals disappeared is a topic that has been debated for years with new theories and explanations springing up on a regular basis. Scientists now believe that one of the main contributing factors to their extinction could have been the fact that they had larger eyes than modern humans, a trait that meant more of their brain power was devoted to seeing at the expense of higher processing.

"Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking," said Eiluned Pearce of Oxford University.
A study of Neanderthal skulls suggests that they became extinct because they had larger eyes than our species. As a result, more of their brains were devoted to seeing in the long, dark nights in Europe, at the expense of high-level processing.


Source: BBC News | Comments (54)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #45 Posted by ufonuts 11 years ago
Large Eyes?? I have (3) consonants for you: Al-ie-ens!
Comment icon #46 Posted by Eldorado 11 years ago
Eyes too big for their bellies? (You ever eat so much you can't move? I hate that. *sigh*)
Comment icon #47 Posted by third_eye 11 years ago
Eyes too big for their bellies? (You ever eat so much you can't move? I hate that. *sigh*) No you don't
Comment icon #48 Posted by rustygh 11 years ago
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_starvation of course, its called Rabbit starvation. That's why you always carry twinkies...
Comment icon #49 Posted by rustygh 11 years ago
That's not because of species, I hear that is red rice yeast. Look it up its kind of interesting. Even though they eat tons of high cholesterol foods they have much lower numbers then the western world. Ahh is that sooo.... Some asians especially the chinese may live longer than any other human species.
Comment icon #50 Posted by Hilander 11 years ago
Their eyes are too big. Next week it will be their feet were too big and they kept tripping over them so they became dinner.
Comment icon #51 Posted by thewild 11 years ago
Their eyes are too big. Next week it will be their feet were too big and they kept tripping over them so they became dinner. This made me laugh so hard...tis funny cause it's true
Comment icon #52 Posted by Geldoblam 11 years ago
First it was because they couldn't hunt rabbits now it's because they had huge eyes. What is next?
Comment icon #53 Posted by goodconversations 11 years ago
It makes sense... eyes too big.. too big they joined together and became one big eye... The Neands are the Cyclopes in Greek mythology!
Comment icon #54 Posted by Blizno 11 years ago
"Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking..." What? Just...what? They MAY have had larger eyeballs so that means more of their brains were devoted to vision? Giant squid have eyeballs that dwarf ours - therefore giant squid visual centers are much larger than ours, right? This is nonsense.


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