Neanderthal artwork, Jupiter auroras solved and dinosaur poop reveals treasure

Neanderthal art, Jupiter auroras solved and dinosaur poop reveals treasure


We often dismiss our extinct cousins as brutish cave dwellers — and the word Neanderthal is thrown about as a dig at people who have outdated ways of thinking.

Nice try, but not quite. We are learning Neanderthals were just as innovative and sophisticated as we fancy ourselves to be — raising questions about what it means to be human.

It’s me, Katie Hunt, filling in for Ashley Strickland, in this edition of Wonder Theory.

A tiny, engraved bone is changing how we think about Neanderthals, the heavily built Stone Age hominins who disappeared about 40,000 years ago.

Found in Einhornhöhle (or Unicorn) cave in northern Germany, the decorated deer phalanx, or toe bone, features a geometric pattern. Researchers have said it’s the most definitive evidence yet that Neanderthals were capable of artistic expression — a sign of what archaeologists call complex behavior, once thought unique to Homo sapiens.
What’s less clear is how Homo neanderthalensis learned these skills. The possibility…