Woody: Neanderthals get IQ boost

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According to a recent scientific discovery, Neanderthals may not have been as dumb as we thought, which means there still might be hope for my boyhood buddy Booger Johnson.

Booger once took an IQ test that indicated he was, intellectually speaking a box of gravel. (The first hint came when Booger misspelled "IQ" when filling out the test application.)

On the line that asked SEX? he wrote, "Sure, why not?"

Booger drifted through a series of dead-end jobs -- ditch digger, chicken plucker, septic tank cleaner -- until, driven by desperation, he finally found something he could handle, and today he is serving his 6th term as a U.S. Senator.

I'm kidding. There is no Senator Booger. Unfortunately!

But the IQ tests were wrong about Booger being a bulb shy a Christmas tree, or that his paddle didn't reach all the way to the water. It was simply his talents leaned toward the esoteric.

If you wanted someone to skin a possum, for example, Booger was your man.

The same goes for Neanderthals. Just because they lived in a cave, tended to forget their wife's birthday, and didn't attend a snooty Ivy League school doesn't mean they were short on brain-power. They could grunt, scratch and spit, which made them suited for major league baseball.

Nevertheless, when we modern-day humans do something really dumb we're called a "Neanderthal." (The time my deer-hunting buddy Earle tossed his camo pants in the family wash with a bottle of Hot Doe Urine Scent in the pocket comes to mind.)

Now scientists are re-thinking the dumb-as-rocks theory -- about Neanderthals, I mean. They're still fairly certain about Earle.

In a cave in France a team of explorers recently came across some stone formations that appear to have been hand-crafted around the time of the Neanderthals. The tribe inhabited the cave 45,000 years before the arrival of modern humans, who got held up at the airport.

The mysterious stone stalagmites were broken off "in some kind of ritual" according to one of the scientists, which would indicate an advanced thought process. (Another theory is the stalagmites might have been broken by a gang of rambunctious Neanderthal teenagers who threw a cave party when their parents were out of town.)

Also on the cave wall were scribblings that indicated an early, primitive form of math:

If four Neanderthals are walking through the forest and a saber-tooth tiger eats one, how many Neanderthals are left?

Or: if Org has three wives and Gork has five wives, how many wives will Org have after he conks Gork on the head and takes his?

Other cave drawings suggest a prehistoric sense of humor: a traveling Neanderthal salesman stops at a farmhouse asks to spend the night. The farmer, who has a pretty daughter, says, well, OK, but -- (the punch line is smudged out.)

And: how many Neanderthals does it take to screw in a light bulb, once the light bulb is invented?

Scientists caution it's too soon to jump to conclusions about the Neanderthals' intelligence; even though Neanderthals lived and worked as a cohesive family unit, so do the Kardashians.

But at least there is a chance that, contrary to what was once believed, Neanderthals weren't a bunch of knot-headed, knuckle-dragging doofuses. We arrived much later.

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Larry Woody
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