“A study of Neanderthal skulls suggests that they became extinct because they had larger eyes than our species. As a result, more of their brains were devoted to seeing in the long, dark nights in Europe, at the expense of high-level processing. By contrast, the larger frontal brain regions of Homo sapiens led to the fashioning of warmer clothes and the development of larger social networks.”
“”Since Neanderthals evolved at higher latitudes, more of the Neanderthal brain would have been dedicated to vision and body control, leaving less brain to deal with other functions like social networking,” she (Eiluned Pearce of Oxford University) told BBC News. This is a view backed by Prof Chris Stringer, who was also involved in the research and is an expert in human origins at the Natural History Museum in London. “We infer that Neanderthals had a smaller cognitive part of the brain and this would have limited them, including their ability to form larger groups. If you live in a larger group, you need a larger brain in order to process all those extra relationships,” he explained. The Neanderthals’ more visually-focused brain structure might also have affected their ability to innovate and to adapt to the ice age that was thought to have contributed to their demise.”
Interesting. It contributes to the sociality vs specialist adaptations importance.