Who were the
Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for thousands of years
before Homo sapiens walked the Earth.
a species of ancient humans that survived for about
300,000 years before going extinct 40,000 years ago.
Because they lived long ago, it has often been
challenging to discover more about them.
It was in 1829 when modern man first found evidence that
Yet over these last 200 years,
scientists and paleoanthropologist are still trying to
paint a clearer picture of who they were, how they
lived, and what caused their disappearance.
modern archeological tools, as well as significant
discoveries of ancient sites and artifacts over the last
25 years, the Neanderthals are slowly giving up their
Neanderthals lived in a vastly different Eurasia from
what it is today.
They lived during
the Ice Age in an
extremely harsh weather with temperatures as low as
They mastered their surroundings and understood
the environment completely and their anatomy, with
larger nasal cavities and bigger lungs, helped them
adapt to the cold.
Neanderthals also created tools and
weapons, using mainly flint, which helped them hunt for
large animals such as mammoths and bison for much-needed
sustenance and heat.
Neanderthals were nomadic, travelling in small groups of
20 to 30, as shown by recent archaeological sites in
England, France and the British island of Jersey.
designated specific areas for specific activities; one
location would be where they gathered materials; another
would be where the game they hunted was butchered and
divided, and so on.
Each group would stop at these
places in yearly or longer cycles.
All this new evidence shows Neanderthals were not
stereotypical, crude cave people but organized groups
that planned activities.
They met regularly to hunt and
exchange news and females to ensure that their
population continues, which is clear evidence that they
could communicate with each other.
However, what is still unknown is how intricate the form
of communication was:
Did it have rules and was it sophisticated enough
to convey thoughts and feelings?
And along with
language, was there culture or art?
The 1990 discovery
of ancient Neanderthal stalactite circles dating back to
175,000 years ago in the
Bruniquel Cave in France seems
to point in that direction.
These circles show the
possibility that Neanderthals were trying to create
something - a structure - out of chaos, out of nothing.
More research is needed before we find a definitive
Around 42,000 years ago, the first Homo sapiens arrived
in Western Europe, around the time Neanderthals began to
However, this was a gradual disappearance.
sapiens were built differently and were more
sophisticated and technologically and socially advanced.
coexisted with each other for a period of about
2,000 to 4,000 years.
They began to interbreed, and
Neanderthal numbers got smaller until the Homo sapiens
became the only human species on the planet.
We may never get a complete picture of Neanderthal man,
but since a bit of their
DNA can be found in modern
humans, it's vital to continue discovering who they
really were and how they lived exactly.
Not only will
more information help us imagine today's world if they
still existed, but it will give us knowledge of our
ancient past to help us determine our future.