New Study Shows Neanderthals Weren’t as Dumb as They Were Ugly

Everyone can stop losing their minds about dolphins now.

Loudt Darrow
3 min readOct 1, 2021


Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Long enough have Neanderthals carried a reputation for being the ugly, half-witted troglodytes we drove to extinction, which is unfair.

They should only be recognised as the ugly troglodytes we drove to extinction.

Because recently, while a bunch of scientists were sciencing it out, they discovered their wits were quite full, actually.

You ever tried to catch a bird with your bare hands?

If you’ve ever tried to corner a bunch of birds in a dark cave, dazzle them with bright lights, snatch them with your own hands, and later hide their bones in your backyard — well, I hope you’re reading this in prison.

(That was a British joke, but I’m risking the alienation. It’s not every day you get to have dark caves, bone remains, and the opportune double meaning of bird all in the same sentence).

According to a recent discovery, that’s the method Neanderthals developed to catch choughs, a type of cave bird. And it requires a good display of teamwork, creativity, and coordination that we didn’t think Neanderthals were capable of.

Can everyone stop losing their minds about dolphins now?

Not that I hate dolphins. They’re still in my top 3 of military marine mammals. I’d give those charming naval mine detectors a good head-scratching any day.

But have you ever wondered why they can’t breathe underwater? An old ancestor of them had made it to land already, but instead of evolving something useful like opposable thumbs, it decided to ruin the last however many million years of natural selection by jumping back on the primordial soup.

Not as bad a rollback as Microsoft going from XP to Vista, but it’s a close second.

And look — I know exactly what you’re thinking

Even if Neanderthals had survived, bird-snatching is not an employable skill in the 21st Century!

While I beg to disagree (otherwise where do magicians get all their doves), Neanderthals had their pockets (loincloths?) full of other tricks.

They had basic knowledge about medicine. They showed compassion in caring for their elderly. They performed burial rituals. They were crafty enough to make tools — I’d love to see your dolphin’s fins trying to make a spear point.

Who knows how far they would’ve come if we hadn’t fucked them to extinction. Probably not at the forefront of a Gucci summer collection, but they’d be doing well as doctors and caretakers, and I bet a bunch of ’em would have their own Wikipedia entry.

They still aren’t nearly as cool as the octopus though.

Become a smarter Homo Sapiens by getting a Medium membership through this magic link. I’m sure I have some Neanderthal DNA in me, so you can think of it as helping the remaining of the species perdure.



Loudt Darrow

Humor writer, great at small talk, and overall an extremely OK person