Neandertals Turned Eagle Talons into Jewelry 130,000 Years Ago

March 12, 2015 9:33 PM

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As longtime readers may have noticed, I have an abiding interest in Neandertals. To help me keep up with the latest scientific insights into these mysterious relatives of ours, I have a Google alert set for “Neandertal” (and the alternate spelling, “Neanderthal”). I’m always excited to see the email notification that a new story about our closest relative is available for my reading pleasure. There’s just one problem: nearly half the time, the story isn’t about Neandertals at all. Rather the word appears as an invective hurled at whichever politician or other despised figure has attracted the writer’s ire.

Neandertals are the Rodney Dangerfields of the human family—they don’t get no respect. Despite mounting evidence that our prehistoric cousins hunted with great skill, made beautiful stone tools, showed compassion toward one another and buried their dead, among other advanced behaviors, the word Nean...

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