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It was long assumed that Neanderthals were far dumber than us, the modern-day human. But today an ever growing pile of research suggests they weren’t inferior afterall!

A study published in April this year can be tossed onto our already large collection. In this case it seems like their intelligence is linked with one unexpected example–a little piece twine.

The discovery of a 6-millimeter cord fragment estimated to be 50,000 years old has been made at an archaeological site in southeastern France. The importance lies not only with its size but also that it was created from 3 strand fibers

The researchers report this finding in their paper “Discoveries From the Arpitan Ice Age”.

“Do not underestimate,” said researcher Dr Catherine Degayardon from University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne. “This finding can tell us very much about their culture because they create these types objects every day out there (in Africa), so you cannot say one thing if someone has done another thing also: everything counts!”

Neanderthals knew that three is stronger than two, according to the researchers. This was evident when they crafted cords from materials like animal intestines and sinew which were then twisted together in order create thicker ropes with higher tensile strength.

The finding goes to counter the dimwitted Neanderthal stereotype. “It’s hard not be happy when we finally get a win against these kind of myths,” said Bruce Hardy, an anthropology professor at Kenyon College and lead author in this paper. “This was definitely one those moments where you feel like your accomplishment is validated because they are debunking some long standing misconception about our history.” He went on to say, “It was definitely a fist bump kind of moment.”

The discovery of the Cord is one of Neanderthal’s most iconic cultural artifacts. Made from animal fibers, it was likely used to make clothes and other useful items like nets or bags with an infinite number uses for its finite materials. In turn, this indicates that they had a material culture just as much (if not more) advanced than ours today—a point which has been made clear by Hardy’s description on how “the cord can be embodiments of eternal principles.”

The finding only proves that our closest extinct human relative deserves more intellectual props than they currently get. “I suspect we have underestimated these ancestors, and sophisticated technological behaviors are likely much older than what most of us thought.”

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