BOOK REVIEW: How To Think Like A Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick Coolidge | Science News

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BOOK REVIEW: How To Think Like A Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick Coolidge

Review by Bruce Bower

By
12:28pm, December 30, 2011

A Neandertal raised in a human family would make a great fishing boat captain but a lousy police officer. He or she could call on extensive knowledge of local sea conditions and an ease in dealing with small crews, but an inability to read strangers’ motives and recognize their lies would doom a Neandertal patrolling city streets.

So say psychologist Coolidge and archaeologist Wynn, who boldly transform studies of stones, bones and molecules into educated guesstimates about Neandertal thinking and personality.

In the authors’ view, Neandertals lived in small groups and fashioned versatile stone tools, excelling at learning complex procedures and remembering task-relevant information but almost never innovating. They used spears to kill mammoths at close range, a dangerous pursuit that left behind few elders to pass on wisdom. Surrounded by family and friends, Neande

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