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Although Neanderthals were at the top of the food chain, a newcomer to the scene, modern humans, most certainly accelerated their death.

The earliest extinct human relatives, the Neanderthals, lived between 400,000 and 40,000 years ago. Since the discovery of the first Neanderthal remains in 1829, scientists have been trying to figure out how these hominids were related to and interacted with contemporary humans. They appear to have coexisted alongside modern humans, and their extinction may have had a significant impact on the emergence and expansion of Homo sapiens as a competitive species.

Neanderthal Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Primates
  • Family: Hominidae
  • Genus: Homo
  • Scientific Name: Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis
  • Conservation Status: Extinct
  • Locations: Asia, Eurasia, Europe

Neanderthal Facts

  • Main Prey: Vegetables, Fruit, Fish
  • Habitat: Worldwide based near rivers
  • Predators: Bears, Lion, Tiger
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Average Litter Size: 1
  • Lifestyle: Group
  • Favorite Food: Vegetables
  • Type: Mammal
  • Slogan: Roamed Asia and Europe for around 100,000 years!

Neanderthal Physical Characteristics

  • Colour: Brown, Black, White, Tan, Olive
  • Skin Type: Smooth
  • Top Speed: 5 mph
  • Lifespan: 35-50 years
  • Weight: 60-70kg (132-154lb)

5 Neanderthal Facts

  • The Neanderthal term derives from the discovery of some of the earliest Neanderthal remains in Germany’s Neander Valley.
  • Neanderthals produced and utilized complex tools, buried their dead intentionally, regulated fire, lived in shelters, and engaged in a range of other advanced social behaviors, according to extensive evidence.
  • Many of Neanderthals’ physical characteristics, like their wide noses and shorter, stockier physique, are likely due to the cold period in which they lived.
  • Neanderthals and humans are thought to have descended from a common ancestor between 700,000 and 300,000 years ago; both species are members of the same genus.
  • As the cold age progressed, modern humans most likely functioned as a trigger for the demise of Neanderthals.

Neanderthal Scientific Name

Homo neanderthalensis is the scientific name for this species, which is often referred to as Neanderthals. The name is taken from the Neander Valley, which is located near modern-day Dusseldorf, Germany, and was one of the first places where Neanderthal remains were discovered. The term tal means “valley” in German. The phrase Neanderthaler essentially translates to “Neander Valley dweller.”

This species was named after Joachim Neander, a German theologian, and teacher, who lived in a valley in Germany.

Neanderthal Appearance and Behavior

A lot is known about how Neanderthals looked and acted because of the study of Neanderthal remains and genetic research. Their physique was shorter and stockier than modern humans, an adaptation that most likely helped them survive in the harsh ice era conditions. Male Neanderthals stood around 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 143 pounds on average. The typical Neanderthal lady weighed 119 pounds and was 5 feet 1 inch tall.

The skulls of Neanderthals were low-vaulted, with wide orbital and nasal holes. To anchor the massive muscles of the neck, their brow ridges were significantly arched, and the occipital area of the skull – towards the back and base – was noticeable. Their front teeth were bigger than modern humans, but their premolars and molars were around the same size. Their chins were also retreating.
The diaphragms of Neanderthals appear to have been bigger, implying greater lung capacity. Their chests were larger and their spines were straighter than contemporary humans’. Modern Inuit and Siberian Yupiks, who live in Arctic climes, are thought to resemble Neanderthals in appearance.

In terms of behavior, Neanderthals most likely lived in groups of 10 to 30 people, and these groups did not interact with one another very often. However, many Neanderthal remains show fractures and other indications of damage, indicating that there was fighting between groups.

It is thought that Neanderthal groups traveled between different sites depending on the season and that subsequent generations visited the same places as their forefathers for long periods of time.

They were most likely ambush hunters, meaning they waited a long period before attacking their victims. Sharpened wooden spears and vast amounts of big animal bones unearthed at habitation sites provide clear proof of their hunting skill.

Neanderthals worked in the Mousterian stone tool industry, and they were able to make complex flake tools out of prepared stone cores. These implements were used for hunting, stitching, and a variety of other tasks. They most likely hunted by thrusting their weapons rather than throwing them, based on asymmetries between their left and right arms.

These early people most likely spoke a sophisticated language akin to what we speak now. They are said to have cared for and buried injured members of their social groupings. They also created non-functional goods, such as decorative items colored with natural colors and the ability to weave loose-fitting clothes out of animal skins.

Neanderthal Habitat

Neanderthals were found mostly throughout Europe and southern to central Asia. As far north as Belgium and as far south as the Mediterranean Sea, evidence of Neanderthal campsites has been discovered. Neanderthals are thought to have thrived in wooded places with plenty of limestone caves. Their heyday occurred before and throughout the Pleistocene Epoch’s last ice age, which was undoubtedly a harsh and cruel environment.

Their hearths were near to their resting and sleeping locations, suggesting that people returned to the same campsites again and over. They also appear to have had campsites dedicated to short-term hunting excursions, with some of their campsites presumably being utilized on a seasonal basis.

Neanderthal Diet

Neanderthals were expert large game hunters who also consumed a lot of plant matter. Because plant food supply decreased in colder locations throughout the winter, these early humans were forced to rely on other resources, leading to their predilection for meat. They were seasonal hunters who ate whatever food was available at the time. In the winter, they probably ate mostly reindeer, whereas, in the summer, they probably ate mostly red deer.

Neanderthals were expert large game hunters who also consumed a lot of plant matter. Because plant food supply decreased in colder locations throughout the winter, these early humans were forced to rely on other resources, leading to their predilection for meat. They were seasonal hunters who ate whatever food was available at the time. In the winter, they probably ate mostly reindeer, whereas, in the summer, they probably ate mostly red deer.

The diet of Neanderthals was shown to be high in meat, according to isotopic chemical studies of their remains. Plaque in their molar teeth, on the other hand, indicates that they ate a lot of plant matter. Neanderthals were mostly woodland foragers who ate plant foods such as mushrooms, moss, and pine nuts. They are also thought to have eaten edible grasses, and it appears that they prepared plants like legumes and acorns by roasting, broiling, or smoking them.

Neanderthal Predators and Threats

The apex predators were most likely Neanderthals. They were also known as top predators or alpha predators since they were at the top of the food chain. However, it is thought that they had to fight for their favored meals with huge ice age predators. To get access to games such as horses, wild cattle, and deer, they most certainly spent a lot of time battling off cave lions, cave bears, and possibly leopards.

Surprisingly, Neanderthals could have posed a hazard to themselves. Evidence suggests that the species engaged in cannibalism, and there are several undisputed cases. Their specific motivations for cannibalism, however, remain unknown. They may have done it for ceremonial reasons or as part of a pre-burial de-fleshing process. During long periods of food scarcity or times of war, Neanderthals may have resorted to cannibalism.

The greatest threat to Neanderthals was most likely modern people. Both Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens are thought to have descended from a common ancestor who lived 700,000 to 300,000 years ago. For a period of 30,000 to 50,000 years, both species are thought to have lived side by side. Neanderthals were a separate branch of the human family tree, despite evidence suggesting they interbred with contemporary humans.

Modern people are thought to have outperformed and outcompeted Neanderthals but did not necessarily eliminate them. Modern humans had an advantage over Neanderthals as wooded regions gave way to open steppes and grasslands throughout periods of climatic change. As a result, Homo sapiens is thought to have had a role in the extinction of Homo neanderthalensis.

Neanderthal Reproduction, Babies and Lifespan

The bulk of Neanderthals (approximately 80%) are thought to have perished before reaching the age of 40. The newborn mortality rate was likewise extremely high, believed to be approximately 43 percent.

Because the Neanderthal population never got too large, there was likely a lot of interbreeding among these early humans. This indicates that the parents were most likely close cousins. The elevated newborn death rates were most likely caused by the resultant genetic disorders.

Neanderthals most likely married Homo sapiens, according to evidence. The “love child” of a Neanderthal and a modern human found in Portugal most likely lived around 24,500 years ago. Modern Europeans carry around 2% Neanderthal DNA, which supports the theory that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred.

Neanderthal kids grew up under difficult conditions, and many of those who survived delivery died early. Around the age of 2.5 years, babies appear to have been weaned by their mothers, and they were presumably forced to work as hunters or gatherers right away. Lead poisoning was common in Neanderthal newborns, according to evidence. Their brains were equivalent in size to those of current human newborns at birth, but as they grew older, they developed faster and bigger.

Neanderthal Population

The population of Neanderthals now is nil. Even when they did exist, they descended from a relatively tiny population of about 3,000 to 12,000 individuals with a very small effective population (the number of members who can have offspring).

Neanderthal numbers are thought to have fluctuated throughout time, according to DNA analysis. Population numbers have been estimated to range from 1,000 to 5,000 people; 5,000 to 9,000 people; and even 3,000 to 25,000 people at one point. Before going extinct, the population may have continuously risen to approximately 50,000 total individuals.

In the end, the maximum overall number of Neanderthals is thought to have been 10 times lower than that of current human populations in Western Europe. The Boserupian Trap, which indicates that population expansion was constrained by food scarcity, most likely kept their populations low.


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