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Were neanderthals truely strong?

  1. Feb 24, 2015 #1
    9) NEANDERTHAL STRENGTH? Were neanderthals just strong because of

    their tough life as cavemen or due their genetics? In fact, I believe that Cro Magnons

    (same species) were also much stronger than modern humans, and

    probably on par with the neanderthals. If a neanderthal was born and

    raised in a modern city, would (s)he still be strong?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    The "strength" of early homonids is inferred from their bone structure - and the marks eft by muscle attachements.
    It comes down to biomechanics - the papers refer to intrinsic strength rather than functional, which we cannot know since we cannot put any of them on a weights machine.

    (my bf)
    Nature does not care what you believe. If you want to state a belief in a scientific forum, you need to support it ... where does this idea about cro-magnons come from?

    ... compared with a modern human?
    It is likely that modern humans are not as strong, on average, as their forebears ... softer life... but some people will be stronger since we also have body-building for recreation which they are unlikely to have had. We can work this out by comparing "western" city dwellers with modern "stone age" peoples.
    To compare different species, though, you need to define what you mean by "strong". How are you thinking of doing the comparison?

    What you need to do to understand this is look ore closely at how cro-magnon strength is being defined.
  4. Feb 26, 2015 #3
    If a neanderthal were alive today and decided to major in history (in other words, does very little weight lifting), would they still naturally be stronger than a modern human.
  5. Feb 26, 2015 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Define "naturally stronger".
  6. Feb 26, 2015 #5
    I'm not sure how strength is defined... They say that chimpanzees are seven times stronger than humans but I don't know what they use to measure that. Let's use that same unknown system to determine Neanderthal strength.
  7. Feb 26, 2015 #6
    Actually, here's a better way to phrase my question. Neanderthals are regarded as "stronger than humans". Are they being compared to modern humans or to Cro Magnon?
  8. Feb 27, 2015 #7

    Simon Bridge

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    ... you cannot use an unknown system.
    A chimp is capable of ripping your arm off and knocking you unconscious with the soggy end.

    ... modern humans. And it is a comparison of bone and muscle structures - so they are talking about intrinsic ability. Same as how a big person can be expected to be stronger than a small person ... based on things like lever arms.
    Try not to make too much out of such statements.
  9. Feb 27, 2015 #8


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    Calpalned, I'm afraid that from now on, you will need to post a link to the source of your questions. If you have a question, post a link to what you were reading that caused you to not understand so that we can read it before answering you. Thank you.
  10. Mar 24, 2015 #9
    for your interest: (not neanderthal, but a long time ago)


    It says: "Bybon, son of Pholos, has lifted me over his head with one hand." The stone weighs 143 KG.


    It says: "Eumastas, the son of Critobulus, lifted me from the ground." The stone weighs 480 KG.

    Our lifts today pale in comparison, but the claims may be over exaggerated, there's no way to tell.
  11. Mar 24, 2015 #10


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    What you see in the pictures above, are the first recorded cases of trolling.
  12. Mar 24, 2015 #11
    I disagree. There do indeed exist people to this day who do lifts such objects REGULARLY - they are professional strongmen and elite-level powerlifters. Both of which are internationally-known strength sports.

    The first two examples are at the high-end of the human strength spectrum,

    where the last is that which is achievable by the dedicated Average Joe,

    But to get back to the original topic, I agree with the above posts that discuss that our evidence of Neanderthals (were incidentally are not the same modern humans - homo sapiens neanderthalensis versus homo sapiens sapiens) being stronger than "modern humans" (I will assume you mean anatomically modern humans beings of the type exemplified by the Cro Magnon) is mostly from the examination of intact bone samples and their features. We couldn't put a number on their strength and say that an average neanderthal was, say 1.6x stronger than the average 'modern human' - such figures wouldn't even make sense in the first place since physical strength depends on every from lifestyle to genetics and everything in between.

    It is also worth noting that this type of research does exist (see below - yes, the title bothers me too).

  13. Mar 25, 2015 #12

    Simon Bridge

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    The strongmen regularly lift that kind of weight yep. The world record is something like 524kg (Zydrunas Savickas 2014). I read that competitors risk torn muscles in the events.

    I think the stones illustrate how difficult it is to compare strengths between history and today.

    We should, for example, compare like with like:

    The historical stones should be taken as depicting exceptional feats of strength, so we should be looking at record holders and competition winners; the stone lift is somewhat different from lifting weights (or tires) on a bar, so we should look at modern stone lifting events.

    I think the current record modern stone lift is about 250kg ... but the "from the ground" claim written on the heavy stone (above) likely involves just budging it once while Brian Shaw had to lift his stone well clear. We don't know how the historical 480kg lift was achieved - a big heavy person could get the stone just off the ground by getting a firm grip and rocking backwards, but still - way impressive.

    Guinness records Travis Ortmayer lifted five Atlas stones, and threw them over 1.5m each in 15.38s ... Atlas stones are much lighter but "throwing" - is that stronger or weaker than the historical stone lifts?

    We cannot totally discount trolling - our ancestors used to love exaggeration and rough practical jokes. I can just imagine someone leaving a stone with such a boast lying around to they could laugh at prideful tough guys rupturing themselves trying to lift it. It would be the historical equivalent of gluing a dollar coin to the ground. They could set a sword in one for good measure. Could probably use a decent historical context for the stones.
  14. Mar 25, 2015 #13
  15. Mar 25, 2015 #14
    The question of human strength, particularly in comparison to our primate relative's strength in the chimps for instance, is a question I find interesting. I get the biomechanical angle, muscle size, adaptive strength (chimp leg muscles aren't all that good for running long distances for instance) and mechanical advantage due to structural attachments, but there is still an aspect of muscular strength that is beyond the mere bio-mechanics and is a result of the unique human brain and nervous system. We know this because we have examples of how human muscles, attachment and other factors aside for a moment, can perform at a lever far beyond what our brain normally allows when the control of the muscle is overridden due to shock; either chemical due to adrenaline as we see in the case of the woman lifting a car to safe her child, or electrical as when a human touching a live wire can hurl themselves across a room. If we could do this all the time we'd be supermen but in all likelyhood we'd also damage those muscles and in fact we are capable of even breaking the very bones to which the muscles are attaches. Of course we don't see this often because in humans muscle contraction is controlled and constrained unless somehow over-ridden as shock can do. It evidently is due to the controlling capacity of a part of the brain which we find in the human brain and to a far lesser degree in other primates; the white matter. Different from the gray matter that typifies the brain and in humans is found deeper within the mass of the brain tissue, distinct from the gray matter that we see just below the cortex. It is associated as well with fine motion control that is so evident in human action. from drawing and writing, to making fine tools, to our ability to control our voice muscles to articulate speech. ..and maybe to reflect on our own condition, the theory of mind. cheers
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