The Neanderthals are an extinct species of human, although a separate species from we modern humans. They were first uncovered in Germany in the Neander Valley, hence the name Neanderthal. Neanderthals lived during the Ice Age and are thought to have dwelled all over Europe, most of Asia and also in parts of Africa.
The first Neanderthal skeleton that was discovered was of a man. The skeleton showed that the man walked on bent knees, had a thick neck and stood in a similar way to an ape. This bent posture led the archeologists to first believe that the Neanderthal was a missing link between ape and man. But it was later found that the Neanderthal was actually an old man who had arthritis which caused his bent form.
The adult Neanderthal brain was larger than that of the modern humans’. However studies revealed that the Neanderthal and modern human brain were the same size at birth. The Neanderthals were also much stronger and had very strong arms and hands, and stocky bodies that were suitable for the cold climates of that time.
They made stone tools and even needles. The needles suggest that they probably also wore clothes made from animal skins. They were skilled hunters and used their tools for hunting as well. Evidence was also found suggesting that they lived in caves and even cooked their food.
At first Neanderthals were thought of as a rather unintelligent species. Discoveries made later on suggested that they buried their dead. And they probably had ceremonies for it because burial spots where found where the body was covered with flowers and also buried along with food and tools.
The reason for the extinction of the Neanderthals is still uncertain. Some theories say that the appearance of modern human ancestors was a threat to them due to the competition for resources. A recent theory says that the Neanderthals and modern humans interbred until the Neanderthals were absorbed into our species. Others also say that dramatic climate changes took place, to which the Neanderthals could not adjust.
Neanderthals are featured in the following book:
25 Extinct Animals… since the Birth of Mankind!
Neanderthals are also mentioned in:
Tibetans Leave Their Dead to Nature and Animals.
The YouTube video below is a collection of videos about the Neanderthal. The list of videos featured is underneath.
- Evolution – from ape man to neanderthal – BBC science
- Neanderthal: Simple Minded or Intelligent? – BBC Science
- High-pitched voice theory – Neanderthal – BBC science
- Can Neanderthals run? – BBC science
- Neanderthal: Powerful Muscles – BBC Science
- Neanderthal vs woolly rhino – BBC