We predicted as much: anthropologists are beginning to have a more positive attitude toward the role of Neanderthals in human prehistory. According to an article in today's Washington Post, "Scientists are broadly rethinking the nature, skills and demise of the Neanderthals of Europe and Asia, steadily finding more ways that they were substantially like us and different from the limited, unchanging and ultimately doomed inferiors most commonly described in the past."
The article by Marc Kaufman is titled "Anthropologists Adopt a More Favorable View of Neanderthals," and appeared in the October 4, 2010 edition of the newspaper.
Earlier research this year noted that Europeans have, on average, 1-4% Neanderthal genes. That began the wheels of scientific thinking rolling. "Our picture of Neanderthals is likely to change radically now that we know they were among ancestors of ours, not a dead-end, primitive race," we wrote in the blog post "Most Humans Part Neanderthal" on May 12. DNA Consultants introduced its Neanderthal Index in June.
An important paper that is helping restore Neanderthals' position in prehistory is "A Niche Construction Perspective on the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Italy," by Julien Riel-Salvatore (Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory). Riel-Salvatore also has a blog on prehistoric toolmaking and related subjects. Among his perceptions is that Neanderthal DNA was probably strong at first but got watered down in the course of time. That is confirmation for our targeting archaic populations to measure your Neanderthal Index.