Monday June 17, 2019
Home Lead Story Neanderthals ...

Neanderthals And Sapiens Both Faced Risks

But the new study is not the final word on Neanderthal trauma

0
//
Neanderthal
A 3D-printed model of a Neanderthal man stands at the stand of FIT AG during a media presentation at the international fairs FabCon 3.D and Rapid.Tech, Germany. VOA

Life as a Neanderthal was no picnic, but a new analysis says it was no more dangerous than what our own species faced in ancient times.

That challenges what the authors call the prevailing view of our evolutionary cousins, that they lived risky, stressful lives. Some studies have suggested they had high injury rates, which have been blamed on things like social violence, attacks by carnivores, a hunting style that required getting close to large prey, and the hazards of extensive travel in environments full of snow and ice.

While it’s true that their lives were probably riskier than those of people in today’s industrial societies, the vastly different living conditions of those two groups mean comparing them isn’t really appropriate, said Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingen in Germany.

Neanderthal model
Neanderthal model. Reconstruction of a Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) based on the La Chapelle-aux-Saints fossils. Neanderthals inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago. They did not use complex tools but had mastery of fire and built shelters. It is thought that they had language and a complex social structure, living in small family groups and hunting for food. It is not known why Neanderthals became extinct, but one theory is that they were outcompeted by modern humans (Homo sapiens). Reconstruction by Elisabeth Daynes of the Daynes Studio, Paris, France.

A better question is whether Neanderthals faced more danger than our species did when we shared similar environments and comparable lifestyles of mobile hunter-gatherers, she and study co-authors say in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

To study that, they focused on skull injuries. They reviewed prior studies of fossils from western Eurasia that ranged from about 80,000 to 20,000 years old. In all they assessed data on 295 skull samples from 114 individual Neanderthals, and 541 skull samples from 90 individuals of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Injury rates turned out to be about the same in both species.

Also Read: Neanderthal Genes Helped Early Humans Beings to Fight Flu, Hepatits

That questions the idea that the behavior of Neanderthals created particularly high levels of danger, Marta Mirazon Lahr of Cambridge University wrote in an accompanying commentary.

But the new study is not the final word on Neanderthal trauma, she wrote. It didn’t include injuries other than to the skull. And scientists still have plenty of work to do in seeking the likely cause of injuries and evidence of care for the injured, which could give insights into the behavior of both Neanderthals and ancient members of our species, she wrote. (VOA)

Next Story

New Tool may Help Humans and Robots Work Together in Close Proximity

This algorithm builds in components that help a robot understand and monitor stops and overlaps in movement

0
Tool, Humans, Robots
Members of that same MIT team applied the new algorithm to the BMW factory floor experiments and found that instead of freezing in place, the robot simply rolled on . Pixabay

A team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed an algorithm that accurately tells robots where nearby humans are headed – a discovery that may help humans and robots work together in close proximity.

Researchers at MIT and the auto manufacturer BMW have been testing ways since last year in which humans and robots might work in close proximity to assemble car parts.

Members of that same MIT team applied the new algorithm to the BMW factory floor experiments and found that instead of freezing in place, the robot simply rolled on and was safely out of the way by the time the person walked by again.

“This algorithm builds in components that help a robot understand and monitor stops and overlaps in movement — a core part of human motion,” said Julie Shah, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.

Tool, Humans, Robots
A team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed an algorithm that accurately tells robots where nearby humans are headed. Pixabay

“This technique is one of the many way we’re working on robots better understanding people,” she added.

Shah and her colleagues, including project lead and graduate student Przemyslaw “Pem” Lasota, are set to present their results at the “Robotics: Science and Systems” conference in Germany this month.

Existing algorithms typically take in streaming motion data, in the form of dots representing the position of a person over time, and compare the trajectory of those dots to a library of common trajectories for the given scenario.

An algorithm maps a trajectory in terms of the relative distance between dots.

According to Lasota, algorithms that predict trajectories based on distance alone can get easily confused in certain common situations, such as temporary stops, in which a person pauses before continuing on their path.

While paused, dots representing the person’s position can bunch up in the same spot.

As a solution, Lasota and Shah devised a “partial trajectory” algorithm that aligns segments of a person’s trajectory in real-time with a library of previously collected reference trajectories.

Importantly, the new algorithm aligns trajectories in both distance and timing, and in so doing, is able to accurately anticipate stops and overlaps in a person’s path.

Tool, Humans, Robots
Researchers at MIT and the auto manufacturer BMW have been testing ways since last year in which humans and robots might work in close proximity. Pixabay

The team tested the algorithm on two human motion datasets: one in which a person intermittently crossed a robot’s path in a factory setting and another in which the group previously recorded hand movements of participants reaching across a table to install a bolt that a robot would then secure by brushing sealant on the bolt.

“This technique could apply to any environment where humans exhibit typical patterns of behaviour,” said Shah. (IANS)