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Inaccurate depiction of Neanderthals in the popular media


FredParisFrance 61 / 7  
Jul 25, 2007   #1
Hello,

Could you please read my essay and give me some feedback? Thank you very much!

The prompt is:

Neanderthals have often been depicted in the popular media as stupid, brutish, and incapable of walking in a fully upright position. Take 3-4 paragraphs to present evidence that none of these depictions is accurate.

Thank you in advance
Frederic

In the popular culture, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis individuals, also known as Neanderthals, traditionally suffer from an adverse portrayal that depicts them as primitive creatures. Folk wisdom generally attributes stupidity, bestiality, and an obligate flexed bipedalism to them, which reflect an image of animality. Such considerations are the result of a French palaeontologist's exaggerated interpretation of a Neanderthal's remains. Indeed, later analyses of that skeleton in addition to new archaeological excavations and their subsequent interpretations have rejected that depiction of Neanderthals and unveiled their true anatomical and cultural characteristics. The Neanderthals' anatomy and culture highlight the kind of their bipedalism as well as their intelligence and dexterity.

The deconstruction of the fallacy as regards the Neanderthals' ape-like gait is possible thanks to a correct reading of their anatomical features. The first key point is the position of the aperture in the base of their skull through which their spinal cord unites with their brain. That cavity, called foramen magnum, is located close to the back of the upper jaw as under our current skulls, which means this species walked fully upright because the quadrupedal species have their foramen magnum less underneath their skulls, namely closer to the rear of the skulls. Such a position gives full weight to the vision of an obligate bipedalism. Moreover, although their pelvis was relatively broad in comparison with the anatomically modern Homo sapiens, that feature was not a sufficient element to impair their fully upright gait. The confusion that surrounds the Neanderthals' physical appearance originates from the fact that this species has lived during a period of about ninety five thousand years, which was also a phase of both dramatic climatic changes and interbreeding with the Homo sapiens sapiens species. Consequently, the scientists have encountered a wide range of variations in Neanderthals' skeletons in various geographical locations. Furthermore, it seems that many Neanderthals have suffered from severe impairments due to osteoarthritis that have deformed their bones to the point of misleading the researchers who have thought the Neanderthals could have been naturally bended and therefore not fully erected.

The Neanderthals' level of intelligence was far beyond the one traditionally displayed by the media. For example, natural or human-made endocasts of Neanderthals' cranial capacity ranged from about one thousand five hundred and twenty cubic centimetres to one thousand six hundred and fifty cubic centimetres, that is on average about two hundred cubic centimetres more than the anatomically modern Homo sapiens species' cranial capacity, namely us. Furthermore, their brain was divided into two hemispheres and demonstrated areas associated with the same psychomotor functions as the anatomically modern Homo sapiens species' brains. Those characteristics have suggested the Neanderthals were biologically as able to show signs of intelligence as we do. However, archaeological clues have evoked more substantially those suppositions. Actually, Neanderthals' grave have been discovered with elements that could allow the scientists to deem that the Neanderthal individuals considered their dead with respect and buried them with some kinds of rituals, through burials with decorative items or through the particular disposition of the corpses, such as in the Near East.

Furthermore, the Neanderthals' production of tools and artefacts epitomizes their capacity to exhibit dexterousness. The Neanderthals shared with some other modern Homo sapiens a type of stone tool industry that is characterized by a larger proportion of flake tools than the ones that were found in the prior stone tool industry, the Acheulian. Actually, they were adroit enough for detaching flakes form a stone core and then retouching the flakes into various forms, such as points or knives. Moreover, thanks to those more elaborated and specialized tools they were able to work relatively soft materials such as pieces of wood or antler. The Neanderthals were able to fabricate solid spears for hunting large mammals and were able to create some music instruments, such as flutes of bone, or adornments made of ivory or antler.

The Neanderthals have endured and will certainly endure mockeries or even disdain for many years because of the pervasive effects of the popular media. Nonetheless, the anthropologists have gradually been revealing a more accurate description of the Neanderthals' physical appearance and of their authentic daily routine. The Neanderthals have benefited from an advanced culture with a sophisticated tool industry in addition to excellent intellectual abilities and a fully upright position. The most obvious evidence of their faculty for adaptation lies in the fact they have been able to survive ninety five thousand years through spectacular climatic changes and in a hazardous ecosystem because of a habitat filled with dangerous large mammals and in competition with another human species, the Homo sapiens sapiens. Finally, the derision of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis should also be avoided insofar as it could amount to ridicule ourselves since recent advances in molecular biology have permitted the scientists to trace our genetic descent back to them thanks to the mitochondrial DNA, which is transmitted from the mother to her offspring without modification through the meiosis. In the end, are we so clever? Not so sure.

EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
Jul 26, 2007   #2
Greetings!

I'd be glad to help with some editing:

The Neanderthals' anatomy and culture highlight their kind of bipedalism as well as their intelligence and dexterity. (I think that's what you meant.)

researchers who have thought the Neanderthals could have been naturally bents and therefore not fully erected.

Actually, Neanderthals' graves have been discovered

Nonetheless, anthropologists have gradually been revealing a more accurate description of the Neanderthals' physical appearance

Finally, the derision of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis should also be avoided insofar as it could amount to ridiculing ourselves since recent advances in molecular biology have permitted scientists to trace our genetic descent

Good work!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


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