It‚Äôs very common to lump the backward and the brutish into the category of ‚ÄúNeanderthal.‚ÄĚ Well, Neanderthal experts don‚Äôt appreciate your casual trashing, thanks.

Atlas Obscura did some calling around. One of the scientists consulted was Evelyn Jagoda, a PhD student in Harvard‚Äôs Human Evolutionary Biology Department. She noted that when you see Neanderthals in the news, ‚ÄúHalf the time it‚Äôs science news articles about cool new Neanderthal studies.‚ÄĚ But: ‚ÄúThe other half, it‚Äôs things like ‚ÄėThese politicians are Neanderthals on this issue!‚Äô or ‚ÄėThis man is acting like a Neanderthal in his opinion on this!‚Äô‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI know it is incorrect, but I am not surprised,‚ÄĚ archeologist Dr. Paola Villa told Atlas Obscura in an email presumably written while sighing a long, tired sigh. And yet: ‚ÄúThe American vocabulary is rich and varied,‚ÄĚ she said, adding that, ‚ÄúIf you want to offend somebody... there is no need to fall back on Neanderthals.‚ÄĚ Jagoda finds it downright irritating, explaining, ‚ÄúTo use the word to mean ‚Äėbrutish and stupid‚Äô is really kind of baseless.‚ÄĚ To wit:

As we learn more about Neanderthals, the opposite picture emerges‚ÄĒrecent studies indicate they likely used materials from their environment to start fires faster, hunted large animals, and cave-painted with the best of them, all signs of cognitive complexity. Besides, we mated with them for tens of thousands of years. Neanderthal contributions to the human genome have been ‚Äúreally useful,‚ÄĚ especially immunologically, says Jagoda, who studies this particular genetic legacy.


So please, don‚Äôt insult Neanderthals by comparing them to‚ÄĒjust as a for-instance‚ÄĒDonald Trump.

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Photo via AP Images.