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 had dexterous hands and fingers (along with incredible strength). National Geographic News, March 26, 2003. They would have made awesome golfers. Cherish that thought, but remember that you read it here first: I claim and retain all film rights to the concept. The paper is Niewohner, W. A., et al. 2003. Manual dexterity in Neanderthals. Nature 422, 395.
September 2001. Tools in the Russian Arctic at 40,000 years ago, probably made by Neanderthals.
National Geographic News
Frustratingly, there are no human remains with them. But if they are "modern" humans, they are VERY early. If they are Neanderthals, it's yet more evidence that Neanderthals were pretty good at making a living in harsh environments. My guess is the latter: there's a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept 2001 [RC: get URL]. It documents very sophisticated tools made by undoubted Neanderthals in the Crimea. This is a long way south of the Arctic, but the new Crimean tools destroy the Neanderthals-were-strong-but-dumb interpretations that are currently floating around.)
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.
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.
Smithsonian Magazine, October 2006. Feature on Svante Paabo and the quest for a complete Neanderthal genome.
Two new papers on Neanderthal DNA (and comparison with living human DNA), November 2006. It's not quite true that the studies find NO evidence of human/Neanderthal interbreeding. They say that if it happened, it must have been on a small scale, and there are hints that if it happened, it was gender-biased [human male/Neanderthal female]. So the door is not quite closed! (see this previous story from National Geographic News, October 30, 2006).
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.
Where Are We in 2005?
I have to say right here that after resisting the idea that Neanderthals and humans were separate species, I now feel that the balance of the evidence says they WERE separate.
Skull characters suggest that Neanderthals are not Homo sapiens. The paper is in PNAS, January 2004.
BBC News OnLine.
Older story BBC News OnLine, August 2, 2001. The differences may arise as early as fetal development, implying a wide biological separation. Homo sapiens and Neanderthals may have been separate for hundreds of thousands of years.
Neanderthals grew faster and matured earlier than Homo sapiens. At least, that's the interpretation from studying growth lines in Neanderthal teeth. But read the comments by sceptics. The paper is in Nature, April 2004, so it won't be generally available on the Web.
What does Chris Stringer think?. He's at the British Museum of Natural History.
Page last updated December 5, 2006.
Links last checked October 5, 2005.
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