I just watched the documentary Apocalypse Neanderthal which explores the extinction of the Neanderthals. Although Steve Hsu estimated that Neanderthals had an IQ around 70, this documentary argued that they were just as intelligent as modern humans, or just as intelligent as modern humans were at the time we coexisted with Neanderthals.
It’s unclear whether modern humans living 40,000 years ago were smarter or dumber than we are today. Indeed a scientist in the documentary mentions that it took him a year and a half to learn to make the stone tools Neanderthals made all the time. Neanderthals were also praised for inventing the first adhesive, a kind of prehistoric crazy glue used to attach blades to their spears.
From an HBD perspective, it makes sense that they would have been smart because they were exposed to the ice age far longer than modern humans were, and their brain size exceeded that of people today, though that’s partly because of their robust body builds. Their brains were especially larger in the occipital region involving visual processing. This makes sense because even today, cold adapted people such as East Asians do especially better on spatial tasks than whites who do especially better than blacks. Probably because cold climates required the spatial ability to hunt, build tools, shelter and clothing, and this also explains why men have better spatial ability than women.
Scientists in the documentary were puzzled by how the Neanderthals could have gone extinct despite being cognitively and socially equally to moderns, and physically superior. Though I question whether they were physically superior. Neanderthals were incredibly strong and barrel chested, but modern humans were taller and skinnier which appears to be a more evolved body type because it’s more efficient, and allows you to move faster, jump higher, endure longer, and reach further in combat, despite being less metabolically expensive.
Ultimately the documentary concluded that Neanderthals died out not because of genocide, but because they were too specialized to Europe, unlike modern humans who thrived in multiple continents. So when Europe’s biggest volcano of the last 200,000 years erupted 39,000 years ago, it whipped out virtually all Neanderthals.
However the documentary reminded us not to feel superior because although Neanderthals went extinct, they last 300,000 years which is 100,000 years longer than our species has yet lasted, and warned that another apocalyptic volcano is expected to absolutely decimate North America.