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In the news: between March 9 - March 22, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between March 9 and March 22, 2015

Not your average caveman: Neanderthals made jewelry – CNN

The next time someone accuses you of acting like a Neanderthal, don't be offended. Just say "thank you."

A new study published this month suggests Neanderthals were more "cognitively advanced than we give them credit," Kansas University's David Frayer said in a release. Frayer, a professor emeritus of anthropology, was a part of the study published in the journal PLOS ONE that looks at eagle talons found in present-day Croatia.

Only recently, however, did Frayer identify the cut marks and notches on the 130,000-year-old bones as ones modified by humans. The markings, including polishes and areas where the bones were "rubbed together," show that the talons were "manipulated into a piece of jewelry," Frayer said.

Frayer co-wrote "Evidence for Neanderthal Jewelry: Modified White-tailed Eagle Claws at Krapina" with three other Croatian scientists. Their research indicates Neanderthals were more than just the cavemen-like characters depicted in Geico commercials, but sophisticated creatures concerned with ornamentation and possibly even an "advanced level of prowess" in catching birds, according to Frayer.

Even with modern technology, catching an eagle is an enormously difficult thing to do. Frayer believes Neanderthals must have had excellent "planning skills and ritual" they would've used in catching the bird. "Neanderthals are often thought of to be simple-minded mumbling, bumbling, stumbling fools," Frayer said. "But the more we know about them the more sophisticated they've become."

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