Neanderthals may have swapped social lives for big eyes – life – 13 March 2013 – New Scientist

The visual hardware in the neanderthals brain took up the room we use for socializing. They died off for lack of beer goggles.

Neanderthals may have had bigger eyes than modern humans, but while this helped them see better, it may have meant that they did not have brainpower to spare for complex social lives.

If true, this may have been a disadvantage when the ice age reduced access to food, as they would not have had the skills to procure help from beyond their normal social group, speculates Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford.

Neanderthals’ brains were roughly the same size as modern humans, but may have been organised differently. To find out, a team led by Dunbar studied the skulls of 13 Neanderthals and 32 anatomically modern humans. The Neanderthals had larger eye sockets. There are no Neanderthal brains to examine, but primates with larger eyes tend to have larger visual systems in their brains, suggesting Neanderthals did too.

via Neanderthals may have swapped social lives for big eyes – life – 13 March 2013 – New Scientist.

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