Believe it or not, Neanderthals were both athletic and artsy

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Image: Natural History Museum

They were sprinters. 

Previously believed to have been endurance runners, it is now thought Neanderthals favoured “more power sprint than endurance jog”, according to Dr John Stewart of the University of Bournemouth. The conclusion was drawn from new evidence that these human ancestors occupied forests rather than tundra, environments that lend themselves to shorter hunts, and from genetic analyses that identified a high proportion of gene variants found in modern-day power-sport athletes.

They were artists. 

The oldest cave paintings in the world were found last year in Spain, dated to 65,000 years ago, more than 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe. The artworks, which included pictures of animals and geometric signs, have been attributed to Neanderthals, the only people on the continent at the time.

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They made jewellery. 

Eagle talons found at a Neanderthal site in Croatia displayed cut marks and wear patterns that suggest these were worn as jewellery; beads, shells and feathers that would have been threaded into necklaces have also been unearthed at other sites. David Frayer at the University of Kansas views this as clear evidence that Neanderthals made and wore personal ornaments, with no evident practical use.

Read full, original post: The five: surprising talents of the Neanderthals

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