Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Behavioral implications of Neandertal energetics

Recent studies of Neandertal body mass and skin surface indicate raised energetic requirements in this lineage compared to anatomically modern humans.

Contact
Alexander Verpoorte

Analogous to human behavioural ecology, we try to develop the outlines for a Neandertal behavioural ecology. Research into this topic is based on the premisse that Neandertal behaviour is shaped by evolutionary processes of variation, heredity and natural selection. The ‘four whys’ of Niko Tinbergen provide an important guideline for our questions. Finally, the evolution of culture ( sensu Boyd and Richerson 1985 and similar work) plays a role because Neandertals can be conceptualized as an alternative trajectory for the comparative study of the evolution of culture.

Recent studies of Neandertal body mass and skin surface indicate raised energetic requirements in this lineage compared to anatomically modern humans. We use the energetics as a leverage to model Neandertal behavioural strategies in key-areas such as the use of space, technology and subsistence. Our main challenge is the confrontation of such model expectations with the alternative scenarios for Neandertal behaviour reconstructed from the taphonomically complex archaeological evidence from the Pleistocene.
 

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