Neanderthals

Quick overview

Images of Neanderthals:

  • Why were Neanderthal faces built the way they were?. A light-hearted look at the Neanderthal face, with good science built into it. Features the work of Franciscus on the mechanics of Neanderthal jaws and teeth. From the UC Santa Cruz scientific writing program, 1998.

  • Neanderthal tools: At one time in the Middle East, Neanderthals and modern humans were making the same Mousterian tools, which have been identified as far south as the Sudan.

    However, there is a claim that the hands of Neanderthals and modern humans were different enough to make a big difference. Does that mean that Neanderthals could not make decent tools, indistinguishable from the Mousterian tools that modern humans were making? No, you can't say that for sure: you can only suggest it. If Neanderthals made flutes and played them (see below), and it is an "if", then I don't worry too much about their hands being unable to perform delicate tasks. See also the two following items:

  • Neanderthals made great glue for their tool handles. BBC News OnLine, January 19, 2002.

  • Neanderthals took care of an old person with terrible tooth damage. This Neanderthal had tooth and jaw injuries so bad that he/she could not have survived without help from others. The specimen is very old, perhaps 175,000 years, so it almost counts as a Neanderthal ancestor.

  • Neanderthals: head-bashing and health care? National Geographic Today, April 23, 2002.
  • Neanderthal music? This section deals with the claim that Neanderthals in Slovenia made flutes, and therefore played them.

  • Neanderthal art?

  • Neanderthals ate a lot of meat. This is surely not a surprise: the important thing is that this is now confirmed by isotope analysis, rather than by indirect inference. From the New York Times, June 13, 2000.

    A typically forthright essay by Valerius Geist, laying out his image of Neanderthal hunters. 2000.

  • Neanderthal DNA. Neanderthal DNA is not like that of Homo sapiens. Does that mean that Neanderthals were not Homo sapiens and are (inferred to be) unrelated to us? At present I'd say, Neanderthals were not Homo sapiens. But they are undoubtedly closely related to us, and tere may have been some interbreeding.

  • Neanderthals were (sometimes) cannibals. News from September 1999, based on research at a site in France.

  • The youngest Neanderthal. A new "youngest" Neanderthal was reported in October 1999: Neanderthal remains have been dated to 28,500 years ago, in Croatia. This puts them overlapping with the early CroMagnon/Gravettian peoples of Europe in time, and maybe but not certainly in space. perspective in Scientific American., November 1999.

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