Since the late 1980s the dominant theory of human origins has been that a 'cognitive revolution' (C.50,000 years ago) led to the advent of our species, Homo sapiens. As a result of this revolution our species spread and eventually replaced all existing archaic Homo species, ultimately leading to the superiority of modern humans.
Or so we thought.
As Clive Finlayson explains, the latest advances in genetics prove that there was significant interbreeding between Modern Humans and the Neanderthals. All non-Africans today carry some Neanderthal genes. We have also discovered aspects of Neanderthal behaviour that indicate that they were not cognitively inferior to modern humans, as we once thought, and in fact had their own rituals and art. Finlayson, who is at the forefront of this research, recounts the discoveries of his team, providing
evidence that Neanderthals caught birds of prey, and used their feathers for symbolic purposes. There is also evidence that Neanderthals practised other forms of art, as the recently discovered engravings in Gorham's Cave Gibraltar indicate.
Linking all the recent evidence, The Smart Neanderthal casts a new light on the Neanderthals and the 'Cognitive Revolution'. Finlayson argues that there was no revolution and, instead, modern behaviour arose gradually and independently among different populations of Modern Humans and Neanderthals. Some practices were even adopted by Modern Humans from the Neanderthals. Finlayson overturns classic narratives of human origins, and raises important questions about who we really
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 376 g
Dimensions: 224 x 148 x 23 mm
This is an anecdotal and quirky book, an act of storytelling in effect, but nonetheless persuasive for that ... The Smart Neanderthal is a touching, slightly eccentric contribution to an evolving story, finding, as all do in this field, tremendous significance in still scant evidence - but it is wonderfully suggestive and engaging. * David Sexton, Evening Standard *
The Smart Neanderthal offers both a fascinating exploration of the latest Neanderthal discoveries and a superb study of the evolution of Neanderthals as cultural icons ... highly recommended to readers interested in evolutionary theory, human prehistory, and the complex afterlives of bones. * Lydia Pyne, Los Angeles Review of Books *
The Best Science Books to Read For Summer 2019: From Gibraltar's swelter to a frigid Norwegian fjord, the evolutionary biologist takes readers on an adventure in unexpected revelations about this lost lineage of humans. * Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine *
No one has done more for Neanderthal public relations than evolutionary archaeologist Clive Finlayson... I found The Smart Neandethal fascinating. * David Miles, Minerva *
Well-written and accessible. * Antiquity *