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What Big Eyes They Had

ByTim De ChantNOVA NextNOVA Next

Pallab Ghosh, reporting for the BBC, on the latest theory about why Neanderthals went extinct while modern humans lived on:

The research team explored the idea that the ancestor of Neanderthals left Africa and had to adapt to the longer, darker nights and murkier days of Europe. The result was that Neanderthals evolved larger eyes and a much larger visual processing area at the backs of their brains.

The humans that stayed in Africa, on the other hand, continued to enjoy bright and beautiful days and so had no need for such an adaption. Instead, these people, our ancestors, evolved their frontal lobes, associated with higher-level thinking, before they spread across the globe.