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The Neanderthal Enigma: A New Theoretical Approach


  • Graeme Donald Snooks


The limited material evidence relating to Neanderthal culture has enabled scholars to give free rein to their imaginations in reconstructing the mind and society of this extinct branch of Homo. Despite their remarkable success, the Neanderthals are often characterised as being incapable of symbolic thought, language, and action. Sociobiologists have even suggested that the Neanderthal mind was structurally different to that of modern humans. To provide a realist perspective on the “Neanderthal enigma”, a new general dynamic theory is presented and applied to the available evidence. This new theoretical approach shows that, despite possessing distinct mitochondrial DNA, Neanderthal minds and society were little different to those of modern humans, and that our ultimate success was far from inevitable.

Suggested Citation

  • Graeme Donald Snooks, 2008. "The Neanderthal Enigma: A New Theoretical Approach," GDSC Working Papers 005, Institute of Global Dynamic Systems.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:wpaper:005

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    Neanderthal extinction; dynamic-strategy theory; evolution; symbolic thought; language; complex systems;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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