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Smarter Than You Think: 'Neandertal' Not An Insult


The debate over the role of Neandertals in the ancestry of modern people is the longest running controversy in human evolutionary studies and one of the oldest in science.

By the first decade of the current century, analyses of morphology, behavior, neuroanatomy, and genetics strongly supported a model indicating that Neandertals were a separate biological species from modern humans and represented our cousins but not our ancestors. Neandertal genomic data have changed this picture. 

The next Paul Mickey Science lecture Series in Wednesday April 8 in Springfield.  The topics will include the impact of the genetic and genomic information, the fact that Neandertal contributions to modern Eurasians have long been evident in their anatomy, and some alternate perspectives on the driving forces behind the distinctive form of the Neandertal skull.

Dr. Fred Smith of Illinois State University will deliver the lecture. 

"(Neandertals) are certainly different from modern people," he said. "But probably not significantly different in terms of their intelligence."

'If you saw one on the street dressed reasonably, you might take a second look at him and say boy that's a powerful person with a big face.  But I don't think you would look at that and say gosh, that's not one of us."

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Research and Collections Center at 1011 East Ash Street (enter the building from 10 ½ Street between Ash & Laurel Streets). It's free to attend.

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