The Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) was a species of the Homo genus that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 230,000 to 29,000 years ago, during the Middle Paleolithic period.
Neanderthals were adapted to the cold, as shown by their large brains, short but robust builds, and large noses - traits selected by nature in cold climates, as observed in modern sub-arctic populations. Their brain sizes have been estimated as larger than modern humans, but their brains may in fact have been approximately the same as those of modern humans. On average, Neanderthal males stood about 1.65m tall (just under 5' 6") and were heavily built, and muscular due to their physical activity. Females were about 1.53 to 1.57m tall (about 5'-5'2").
The characteristic style of stone tools in the Middle Paleolithic is called the Mousterian Culture, after a prominent archaeological site where the tools were first found. The Mousterian culture is typified by the wide use of the Levallois technique. Mousterian tools were often produced using soft hammer percussion, such as bones, antlers, and wood, rather than hard hammer percussion, using stone. Near the end of the time of the Neanderthals, they created the Chatelperronian tool style, considered more "advanced" than that of the Mousterian. They either invented the Chatelperronian themselves or "borrowed" elements from the incoming modern humans who are thought to have created the Aurignacian. Read more
Neanderthals dosed themselves with painkillers and possibly penicillin BBC - March 8, 2017
One sick Neanderthal chewed the bark of the poplar tree, which contains a chemical related to aspirin. He may also have been using penicillin, long before antibiotics were developed. The evidence comes from ancient DNA found in the dental tartar of Neanderthals living about 40,000 years ago in central Europe. Microbes and food stuck to the teeth of the ancient hominins gives scientists a window into the past. By sequencing DNA preserved in dental tartar, international researchers have found out new details of the diet, lifestyle and health of our closest extinct relatives.
Prehistoric 'Aspirin' Found in Sick Neanderthal's Teeth National Geographic - March 8, 2017
Evidence of pain-killers is just one intriguing detail pulled from a closer look at the DNA in ancient tooth plaque. What looks to us like unsightly buildup has turned out to be a goldmine for microbiologists who study human evolution. Hardened plaque harvested from Neanderthals is loaded with genetic material from plants and animals these prehistoric hominins ate, as well as remnants of microbes that reveal a surprising amount about how they lived and even what made them sick.
Neanderthal middle ear structure found to be closer to modern human than apes PhysOrg - September 27, 2016
There has been a change in perception of Neanderthals in recent years as archaeologists have uncovered evidence that has suggested the extinct species of human was far more capable than has been conventionally believed. They built primitive homes, for example, created jewelry and painted on walls, and now, it appears they had an ear structure that would have enabled them to use vocal communications similar to modern humans. Prior research has suggested that Neanderthals came to exist approximately 280,000 years ago and lived in much of Europe and parts of Asia - but inexplicably disappeared approximately 40,000 years ago.
Body ornamentation among Neanderthals: Dig in France confirmed as Neanderthal remains Science Daily - September 20, 2016
Researchers have helped to solve an archaeological dispute -- confirming that Neanderthals were responsible for producing tools and artifacts previously argued by some to be exclusively in the realm of modern human cognitive abilities. Using ancient protein analysis, the team took part in an international research project to confirm the disputed origins of bone fragments in Chatelperron, France.
Neanderthals in Germany: First population peak, then sudden extinction Science Daily - July 21, 2016
Neanderthals once populated the entire European continent. Around 45,000 years ago, Homo neanderthalensis was the predominant human species in Europe. Archaeological findings show that there were also several settlements in Germany. However, the era of the Neanderthal came to an end quite suddenly. Based on an analysis of the known archaeological sites comes to the conclusion that Neanderthals reached their population peak right before their population rapidly declined and they eventually became extinct.
Inbred Neanderthals left humans a genetic burden PhysOrg - June 7, 2016
The Neanderthal genome included harmful mutations that made the hominids around 40% less reproductively fit than modern humans, according to estimates published in the latest issue of the journal Genetics. Non-African humans inherited some of this genetic burden when they interbred with Neanderthals, though much of it has been lost over time. The results suggest that these harmful gene variants continue to reduce the fitness of some populations today. The study also has implications for management of endangered species.
Neanderthals were stocky from birth PhysOrg - May 26, 2016
If a Neanderthal were to sit down next to us on the underground, we would probably first notice his receding forehead, prominent brow ridges and projecting, chinless face. Only on closer inspection would we notice his wider and thicker body. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have now investigated whether the differences in physique between Neanderthals and modern humans are genetic or caused by differences in lifestyle. Their analysis of two well-preserved skeletons of Neanderthal neonates shows that Neanderthals' wide bodies and robust bones were formed by birth. The evolutionary lines of modern humans and Neanderthals diverged around 600,000 years ago.
Paleo-anthropologists know from bone finds that Neanderthals possessed not only a receding forehead, prominent brow ridges and projecting, chinless face, but also a different physique. They had more robust bones, a wider pelvis and shorter limbs. This may have been an evolutionary adaptation to the colder climate of Europe and Asia, as a more compact body loses less heat to the environment. However, the skeletal differences may also have arisen as a result of different lifestyles and activity patterns, because mechanical stresses affect the formation of bones.
Neanderthals Built Mysterious Stone Circles National Geographic - May 25, 2016
Rings of stalagmites found in a cave in France suggest that our ancient relatives were surprisingly skilled builders. Once illuminated by the flickering fires of prehistoric builders, an array of mysterious stone circles hid in darkness for millennia, tucked into the recesses of a cave in France. Now, these ancient structures are again emerging from the shadows. The strange rings are crafted from stalagmites and are roughly 176,000 years old, scientists report today. And if the rings were built by a bipedal species, as archaeologists suspect, then they could only be the work of Neanderthals, ancient human relatives that are proving to be much more human than anticipated.
DNA points to Neanderthal breeding barrier BBC - April 8, 2016
Incompatibilities in the DNA of Neanderthals and modern humans may have limited the impact of interbreeding between the two groups. It's now widely known that many modern humans carry up to 4% Neanderthal DNA. But a new analysis of the Neanderthal Y chromosome, the package of genes passed down from fathers to sons, shows it is missing from modern populations.
Modern men lack Y chromosome genes from Neanderthals Science Daily - April 7, 2016
Although it's widely known that modern humans carry traces of Neanderthal DNA, a new international study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that Neanderthal Y-chromosome genes disappeared from the human genome long ago.
How diet shaped human evolution Science Daily - March 30, 2016
Homo sapiens, the ancestor of modern humans, shared the planet with Neanderthals, a close, heavy-set relative that dwelled almost exclusively in Ice-Age Europe, until some 40,000 years ago. Black carbon image of hunting on sandstone. The Ice-Age diet -- a high-protein intake of large animals -- triggered physical changes in Neanderthals, namely a larger ribcage and a wider pelvis. Neanderthals were similar to Homo sapiens, with whom they sometimes mated -- but they were different, too. Among these many differences, Neanderthals were shorter and stockier, with wider pelvises and rib-cages than their modern human counterparts.
A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans Science Daily - March 28, 2016
Most non-Africans possess at least a little bit Neanderthal DNA. But a new map of archaic ancestry suggests that many bloodlines around the world, particularly of South Asian descent, may actually be a bit more Denisovan, a mysterious population of hominids that lived around the same time as the Neanderthals. The analysis also proposes that modern humans interbred with Denisovans about 100 generations after their trysts with Neanderthals.
Do we owe our thick hair and tough skin to Neanderthals? Daily Mail - March 28, 2016
World map of prehistoric ancestry shows how interbreeding has changed and even helped modern humans. The study has unearthed some surprising new benefits these illicit encounters have gifted to modern humans living today.For example genetic variants inherited from Denisovans appear to have given some people in south Asia a better ability to detect subtle scents and helped others to survive at high altitudes.
400,000-year-old fossils from Spain provide earliest genetic evidence of Neanderthals Science Daily - March 16, 2016
Previous analyses of the hominins from Sima de los Huesos in 2013 showed that their maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA was distantly related to Denisovans, extinct relatives of Neanderthals in Asia. This was unexpected since their skeletal remains carry Neanderthals-derived features. Researchers have since worked on sequencing nuclear DNA from fossils from the cave, a challenging task as the extremely old DNA is degraded to very short fragments. The results now show that the Sima de los Huesos hominins were indeed early Neanderthals.
Neanderthals and humans interbred '100,000 years ago' BBC - February 17, 2016
Neanderthals and modern humans were interbreeding much earlier than was previously thought, scientists say. Traces of human DNA found in a Neanderthal genome suggest that we started mixing with our now-extinct relatives 100,000 years ago. Previously it had been thought that the two species first encountered each other when modern humans left Africa, about 60,000 years ago.
Fertile Crescent? Neanderthals & Humans Likely Bred in the Mideast Live Science - February 17, 2016
Neanderthals and modern humans may have interbred much earlier than thought, with ancient liaisons potentially taking place in the Middle East, researchers say. This finding supports the idea that some modern humans left Africa long before the ancestors of modern Europeans and Asians migrated out of Africa, scientists added. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans, living in Europe and Asia until they went extinct about 40,000 years ago. Scientists recently discovered that Neanderthals and modern humans once interbred; nowadays, about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of DNA in people outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin. Last week, researchers reported that the genetic legacy of the Neanderthal has had a subtle but significant impact on modern human health, influencing risks for depression, heart attacks, nicotine addiction, obesity and other problems.
Neanderthal-Human Trysts May Be Linked to Modern Depression, Heart Disease Live Science - February 11, 2016
Ancient trysts between Neanderthals and modern humans may have influenced modern risks for depression, heart attacks, nicotine addiction, obesity and other health problems, researchers said. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans. Scientists recently discovered that Neanderthals and modern humans once interbred; nowadays, about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of DNA in people outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin
Neanderthals were wiped out because modern humans were more artistic - Cultural lifestyle gave us an edge and helped us innovate Daily Mail - February 1, 2015
Modern humans have been blamed for killing off the Neanderthals around 30,000 years ago by breeding with them and even murdering them. But now experts believe it was our ancestors' artistic and innovative abilities that ultimately led to the Neanderthal's demise. The experts believe our more advanced lifestyle gave us a cultural and competitive edge over our ancient cousins and this paved the way for their extinction.
Ancient Man Had Neanderthal Great-Great Grandfather National Geographic - June 22, 2015
Genetic analysis of 40,000-year-old jawbone reveals early modern humans interbred with Neanderthals PhysOrg - June 22, 2015
Neanderthals lived in Europe until about 35,000 years ago, disappearing at the same time modern humans were spreading across the continent. The new study provides the first genetic evidence that humans interbred with Neanderthals in Europe.
Analysis of bones found in Romania offer evidence of human and Neanderthal interbreeding in Europe PhysOrg - May 14, 2015
DNA testing of a human mandible fossil found in Romania has revealed a genome with 4.8 to 11.3 percent Neanderthal DNA - its original owner died approximately 40,000 years ago, Palaeogenomicist Qiaomei Fu reported to audience members at a Biology of Genomes meeting in New York last week. She noted also that she and her research team found long Neanderthal sequences. The high percentage suggests, she added, that the human had a Neanderthal in its family tree going back just four to six generations. The finding by the team provides strong evidence that humans and Neanderthals continued breeding in Europe, long after their initial co-mingling in the Middle East (after humans began migrating out of Africa.)
Fossil Teeth Suggest Humans Played Role in Neanderthal Extinction Live Science - April 23, 2015
Ancient teeth from Italy suggest that the arrival of modern humans in Western Europe coincided with the demise of Neanderthals there, researchers said. This finding suggests that modern humans may have caused Neanderthals to go extinct, either directly or indirectly, scientists added. Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans. Recent findings suggest that Neanderthals, who once lived in Europe and Asia, were closely enough related to humans to interbreed with the ancestors of modern humans - about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of the DNA of anyone outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin. Recent findings suggest that Neanderthals disappeared from Europe between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago.
Neanderthals shape up as globe's first jewelers PhysOrg - March 21, 2015
The widely-held vision of Neanderthals as brutes may need a stark rethink after research found they crafted the world's earliest jewelry from eagle talons 130,000 years ago, long before modern humans appeared in Europe.
Neanderthal groups based part of their lifestyle on sexual division of labor Science Daily - February 19, 2015
Neanderthals divided some of their tasks according to their sex. A new study analyzed 99 teeth of 19 individuals from three different sites (El Sidron, in Asturias - Spain, L'Hortus in France, and Spy in Belgium), reveals that the dental grooves in the female fossils follow the same pattern, different to that found in male individuals.
Neanderthals disappeared from the Iberian Peninsula before than from the rest of Europe Science Daily - February 5, 2015
Until a few months ago different scientific articles dated the disappearance of the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) from Europe at around 40,000 years ago. However, a new study shows that these hominids could have disappeared before then in the Iberian Peninsula, closer to 45,000 years ago. In the Iberian Peninsula the Neanderthals may have disappeared 45,000 years ago.
DNA yields secrets of human pioneer BBC - October 22, 2014
DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals. The genome sequence from a thigh bone found in Siberia shows the first episode of mixing occurred between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. The male hunter is one of the earliest modern humans discovered in Eurasia. The study in Nature journal also supports the finding that our species emerged from Africa some 60,000 years ago, before spreading around the world. The analysis raises the possibility that the human line first emerged millions of years earlier than current estimates.
Neanderthals and Humans First Mated 50,000 Years Ago, DNA Reveals Live Science - October 22, 2014
The DNA from the 45,000-year-old bone of a man from Siberia is helping to pinpoint when modern humans and Neanderthals first interbred, researchers say. Although modern humans are the only surviving human lineage, others once lived on Earth. The closest extinct relatives of modern humans were the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asiauntil they went extinct about 40,000 years ago. Recent findings revealed that Neanderthals interbred with ancestors of modern humans when modern humans began spreading out of Africa - 1.5 to 2.1 percent of the DNA of anyone living outside Africa today is Neanderthal in origin.
Neanderthal 'artwork' found in Gibraltar cave BBC - September 1, 2014
Mounting evidence suggests Neanderthals were not the brutes they were characterized as decades ago. But art, a high expression of abstract thought, was long considered to be the exclusive preserve of our own species. The scattered candidates for artistic expression by Neanderthals have not met with universal acceptance. However, the geometric pattern identified in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Europe, was uncovered beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools.
Gibraltar Engravings Might be Oldest Neanderthal Art Epoch Times - September 1, 2014
A series of lines scratched into rock in a cave near the southwestern tip of Europe could be proof that Neanderthals were more intelligent and creative than previously thought. The cross-hatched engravings inside Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar are the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art, according to a team of scientists who studied the site. The find is significant because it indicates that modern humans and their extinct cousins shared the capacity for abstract expression.
New dates rewrite Neanderthal story BBC - August 20, 2014
Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests. The most comprehensive dating of Neanderthal bones and tools ever carried out suggests that the two species lived side-by-side for up to 5,000 years. The new evidence suggests that the two groups may even have exchanged ideas and culture, say the researchers.
Did Neanderthals eat their vegetables? PhysOrg - June 25, 2014
The popular conception of the Neanderthal as a club-wielding carnivore is, well, rather primitive, according to a new study conducted at MIT. Instead, our prehistoric cousin may have had a more varied diet that, while heavy on meat, also included plant tissues, such as tubers and nuts.
Skulls with mix of Neandertal and primitive traits illuminate human evolution Science Daily - June 19, 2014
Researchers studying a collection of skulls in a Spanish cave identified both Neandertal-derived features and features associated with more primitive humans in these bones. This "mosaic pattern" supports a theory of Neandertal evolution that suggests Neandertals developed their defining features separately, and at different times - not all at once. Having this new data from the Sima de los Huesos site, as the Spanish cave is called, has allowed scientists to better understand hominin evolution during the Middle Pleistocene, a period in which the path of hominin evolution has been controversial.
Brutish and Short? DNA 'Switch' Sheds Light on Neanderthals NBC - April 20, 2014
How can creatures as different in body and mind as present-day humans and their extinct Neanderthal cousins be 99.84 percent identical genetically? Four years after scientists discovered that the two species' genomes differ by a fraction of a percent, geneticists said they have an explanation: the cellular equivalent of "on"/"off" switches that determine whether DNA is activated or not. Hundreds of Neanderthals' genes were turned off while the identical genes in today's humans are turned on, the international team announced in a paper published online in Science. They also found that hundreds of other genes were turned on in Neanderthals, but are off in people living today.
Talking Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech Science Daily - March 3, 2014
We humans like to think of ourselves as unique for many reasons, not least of which being our ability to communicate with words. But ground-breaking research shows that our 'misunderstood cousins,' the Neanderthals, may well have spoken in languages not dissimilar to the ones we use today. Pinpointing the origin and evolution of speech and human language is one of the longest running and most hotly debated topics in the scientific world. It has long been believed that other beings, including the Neanderthals with whom our ancestors shared Earth for thousands of years, simply lacked the necessary cognitive capacity and vocal hardware for speech.
Fifth of Neanderthals' genetic code lives on in modern humans The Guardian - January 29, 2014
Traces are lasting legacy of sexual encounters between our direct ancestors and Neanderthals from 65,000 years ago. The last of the Neanderthals may have died out tens of thousands of years ago, but large stretches of their genetic code live on in people today. Though many of us can claim only a handful of Neanderthal genes, when added together, the human population carries more than a fifth of the archaic human's DNA, researchers found. The finding means that scientists can study about 20% of the Neanderthal genome without having to prise the genetic material from fragile and ancient fossils. The Neanderthal traces in our genetic makeup are the lasting legacy of sexual encounters between our direct ancestors and the Neanderthals they met when they walked out of Africa and into Eurasia about 65,000 years ago.
Which parts of us are Neanderthal? Our genes point to skin and hair NBC - January 29, 2014
Researchers have found that Neanderthal genetic coding is found with high frequency in genes that affect skin characteristics. That suggests that beneficial coding was picked up from Neanderthals to help humans adapt to non-African environments. Earlier studies have suggested that the traits for redheadedness are of Neanderthal origin. A double-barreled comparison of ancient Neanderthal DNA with hundreds of modern-day genomes suggests that many of us have Neanderthal skin and hair traits - but other parts of the Neanderthal genome appear to have been bred out of us along the way.
Neanderthals gave us disease genes BBC - January 29, 2014
Genes that cause disease in people today were picked up through interbreeding with Neanderthals, a major study in Nature journal suggests. They passed on genes involved in type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease and - curiously - smoking addiction. Genome studies reveal that our species (Homo sapiens) mated with Neanderthals after leaving Africa. But it was previously unclear what this Neanderthal DNA did and whether there were any implications for human health.
Diabetes risk gene 'from Neanderthals' BBC - December 26, 2013
A gene variant that seems to increase the risk of diabetes in Latin Americans appears to have been inherited from Neanderthals, a study suggests. We now know that modern humans interbred with a population of Neanderthals shortly after leaving Africa 60,000-70,000 years ago.
Neanderthals could speak like humans, study suggests BBC - December 20, 2013
An analysis of a Neanderthal's hyoid bone - a horseshoe shaped structure in the neck - suggests they had the ability to speak. Until now the strongest support came from a 1989 Neanderthal hyoid fossil, the same shape as those of humans. But computer modeling of how it works has shown their hyoid bone was also used in a very similar way.
Neanderthal Genome Shows Early Human Interbreeding Science Daily - December 19, 2013
The most complete sequence to date of the Neanderthal genome, using DNA extracted from a woman's toe bone that dates back 50,000 years, reveals a long history of interbreeding among at least four different types of early humans living in Europe and Asia at that time
Neanderthals Buried Their Dead Discovery - December 16, 2013
Neanderthals buried their dead, concludes a 13-year study of a former Neanderthal stomping ground in southwestern France. It's then possible that our species wasn't the first on the human family tree to bury our own. At the very least, the discovery adds to the growing evidence that Neanderthals weren't stupid. They might have been brawny, but they had big brains to match.
Neanderthal Burials Confirmed as Ancient Ritual National Geographic - December 16, 2013
A 50,000-year-old Neanderthal skeleton discovered in a cave in France was intentionally buried. A Neanderthal skeleton first unearthed in a cave in southwestern France over a century ago was intentionally buried, according to a new 13-year reanalysis of the site.
New evidence suggests Neanderthals organized their living spaces PhysOrg - December 3, 2013
Scientists have found that Neanderthals organized their living spaces in ways that would be familiar to modern humans, a discovery that once again shows similarities between these two close cousins. Findings indicate that Neanderthals butchered animals, made tools and gathered round the fire in different parts of their shelters.
Archaeologists Rediscover the Lost Home of the Last Neanderthals Science Daily - October 18, 2013
A record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost, has been re-discovered by NERC-funded scientists working in the Channel Island of Jersey, just off the coast of Normandy, France. The study reveals that a key archaeological site has preserved geological deposits which were thought to have been lost through excavation 100 years ago. A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age, preserving 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence. The site, which has produced more Neanderthal stone tools than the rest of the British Isles put together, contains the only known late Neanderthal remains from North West Europe. These offer archaeologists one of the most important records of Neanderthal behavior available.
Handaxe Design Reveals Distinct Neanderthal Cultures Science Daily - August 19, 2013
A study by a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton has found that Neanderthals were more culturally complex than previously acknowledged. Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago. for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) examined the design of 1,300 stone tools originating from 80 Neanderthal sites in five European countries; France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands. Dr Ruebens' investigations uncovered new evidence that two separate handaxe traditions or designs existed -- one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain -- the other in Germany and further to the East. In addition, she found an area covering modern day Belgium and the Netherlands that demonstrates a transition between the two.
Neandertals Shared Speech and Language With Modern Humans, Study Suggests Science Daily - July 9, 2013
The Neandertals have fascinated both the academic world and the general public ever since their discovery almost 200 years ago. Initially thought to be subhuman brutes incapable of anything but the most primitive of grunts, they were a successful form of humanity inhabiting vast swathes of western Eurasia for several hundreds of thousands of years, during harsh ages and milder interglacial periods. We knew that they were our closest cousins, sharing a common ancestor with us around half a million years ago (probably Homo heidelbergensis), but it was unclear what their cognitive capacities were like, or why modern humans succeeded in replacing them after thousands of years of cohabitation. Recently, due to new palaeoanthropological and archaeological discoveries and the reassessment of older data, but especially to the availability of ancient DNA, we have started to realize that their fate was much more intertwined with ours and that, far from being slow brutes, their cognitive capacities and culture were comparable to ours.
Oldest Human Tumor Found in Neanderthal Bone Live Science - June 5, 2013
The oldest human tumor ever found by more than 100,000 years has been discovered in the rib of a Neanderthal. The bone, excavated more than 100 years ago in Croatia, has been hollowed out by a tumor still seen in humans today, known as fibrous dysplasia. These tumors are not cancerous (they don't spread to other tissues), but they replace the weblike inner structure of a bone with a soft, fibrous mass.
Did Humans Really Eat Neanderthals? Live Science - June 4, 2013
No clear evidence suggests modern humans ate Neanderthals, much less that they did so enough to drive Neanderthals to extinction, despite recent claims from scientists in Spain. Neanderthals were once the closest living relatives of modern humans, ranging across a vast area from Europe to western Asia and the Middle East. Their lineage went extinct about the same time modern humans expanded across the world, leading to speculation that modern humans wiped them out.
Neanderthal Greek Paradise Found Discovery - May 22, 2013
Anthropologists have discovered a beautiful Greek waterfront paradise once inhabited by generations of Neanderthals up to 100,000 years ago, according to a new study. This particular population was based at what is known as The Kalamakia Middle Paleolithic Cave site on the Mani peninsula of southern Greece. Previously, only one other Neanderthal tooth suggested that the now-extinct hominids settled in Greece.
Baby Neanderthal Breast-Fed for 7 Months Live Science - May 22, 2013
A baby Neanderthal who lived in what is now Belgium about 100,000 years ago started eating solid food at 7 months old, revealing a new aspect of the evolution of breast-feeding. The precision of this estimate is courtesy a new technique that uses elements in teeth to determine when breast-feeding started and stopped. Though researchers can't be sure the young Neanderthal's pattern was typical of its kind, such a breast-feeding pattern is not unlike that seen in many modern humans.
First Love Child of Human, Neanderthal Found Live Science - March 29, 2013
The skeletal remains of an individual living in northern Italy 40,000-30,000 years ago are believed to be that of a human/Neanderthal hybrid, according to a paper in PLoS ONE. If further analysis proves the theory correct, the remains belonged to the first known such hybrid, providing direct evidence that humans and Neanderthals interbred. Prior genetic research determined the DNA of people with European and Asian ancestry is 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal. The present study focuses on the individual's jaw, which was unearthed at a rock-shelter called Riparo di Mezzena in the Monti Lessini region of Italy. Both Neanderthals and modern humans inhabited Europe at the time.
Humans Broke Off Neanderthal Sex After Discovering Eurasia Live Science - October 5, 2012
Neanderthals apparently last interbred with the ancestors of today's Europeans after modern humans with advanced stone tools expanded out of Africa, researchers say. The last sex between Neanderthals and modern humans likely occurred as recently as 47,000 years ago, the researchers added. Modern humans once shared the globe with now-departed human lineages, including the Neanderthals, our closest known extinct relatives. Neanderthals had been around for about 30,000 years when modern humans appeared in the fossil record about 200,000 years ago. Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 year ago. <
Neanderthals had knowledge of plants' healing qualities: study PhysOrg - July 18, 2012
An international team of researchers has provided the first molecular evidence that Neanderthals not only ate a range of cooked plant foods, but also understood its nutritional and medicinal qualities. Until recently Neanderthals, who disappeared between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago, were thought to be predominantly meat-eaters. However, evidence of dietary breadth is growing as more sophisticated analyses are undertaken.
DNA reveals Neanderthal extinction clues BBC - February 27, 2012
Neanderthals were already on the verge of extinction in Europe by the time modern humans arrived on the scene, a study suggests. DNA analysis suggests most Neanderthals in western Europe died out as early as 50,000 years ago - thousands of years before our own species appeared. A small group of Neanderthals then recolonised parts of Europe, surviving for 10,000 years before vanishing.
'Dumb' Neanderthals Likely Had a Smart Diet Live Science - October 1, 2011
Instead of Neanderthals being dim-witted hunters who only dined on big game, new findings suggest they had more balanced diets, with broad menus that may have included birds, fish and plants. Neanderthals are currently our closest known extinct relatives, near enough to modern humans to interbreed, with Neanderthal DNA making up 1 percent to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes. A host of recent findings suggest they were not only close genetically, but may have shared many other traits with us, such as creating art.
Neanderthal-Human Sex Rarely Produced Kids, Study Suggests Live Science - September 13, 2011
We may have interbred with Neanderthals in the past, but only rarely was that sex successful in producing offspring, scientists now suggest. Any such dalliances might either have been scarce or only rarely produced offspring, or both, researchers explained. Recent analyses of Neanderthal genes revealed that many of us have this extinct lineage within our ancestry. Estimates suggest that Neanderthal DNA makes up 1 to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes.
How sex with Neanderthals made us stronger MSNBC - August 25, 2011
Mating with Neanderthals and another group of extinct hominids, Denisovans, strengthened the human immune system and left behind evidence in the DNA of people today, according to new research. The findings add to the growing body of evidence that modern humans who left Africa around 65,000 years ago mated with Neanderthals and Denisovans - two archaic species that lived in Europe and Asia.
Sex with Neanderthals Gave Humans Immunity Boost Live Science - August 25, 2011
Neanderthals and other extinct humans might have endowed some of us with the robust immune systems we enjoy today, scientists now find. These genetic gifts might have helped our species as we expanded out of Africa, investigators added.
DNA Evidence: Neanderthals Had Sex With Humans Live Science - July 23, 2011
Some Neanderthals may have had pale skin and red hair similar to that of some modern humans.
All Non-Africans Part Neanderthal, Genetics Confirm Discovery - July 18, 2011
If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Discovery News has been reporting on human/Neanderthal interbreeding for some time now, so this latest research confirms earlier findings. Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal's Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center conducted the study with his colleagues. They determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage. "This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred," Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release.
Neanderthals Made a Last Stand at Subarctic Outpost? National Geographic - May 17, 2011
Newfound tools (inset) suggest late Neanderthals lived north of the known European Neanderthal range. A hardy band of Neanderthals may have made a last stand for their species at a remote outpost in subarctic Russia, a newfound prehistoric "tool kit" suggests. The Ural Mountains site "may be one of the last [refuges] of the Neanderthals, and that would be very exciting," said study leader Ludovic Slimak, an archaeologist at France's Universite de Toulouse le Mirail.
Back ache has been a pain for millions of years PhysOrg - February 24, 2011
Research by a Cambridge archaeologist shows that back pain caused untold misery long before we started staring into screens and slumping on sofas. The high incidence of back pain apparent today is often blamed on our lazy lifestyles: we sit at computers, watch television, travel by car and eat too much.
Neanderthals Wore Colorful Feathers, Study Suggests Live Science - February 23, 2011
Neanderthals plucked the feathers from falcons and vultures, perhaps for symbolic value, scientists find. This new discovery adds to evidence that our closest known extinct relatives were capable of creating art. Scientists investigated the Grotta di Fumane - "the Grotto of Smoke" - in northern Italy, a site loaded with Neanderthal bones. After digging down to layers that existed at the surface 44,000 years ago, the researchers discovered 660 bones belonging to 22 species of birds, with evidence of cut, peeling and scrape marks from stone tools on the wing bones of birds that had no clear practical or culinary value.
Early humans won at running; Neanderthals won at walking PhysOrg - February 7, 2011
New research has compared the performance of the heels of modern-day distance runners to the heels of Neanderthals and ancient Homo sapiens. The results show the Neanderthals' heels were taller than those of modern humans and Homo sapiens, and more adapted to walking than running over long distances, while those of Homo sapiens were more adapted to endurance running.
The Neanderthal Nose Enigma: Why So Big? Live Science - January 14, 2011
A mystery of Neanderthals for more than a century is one that's literally as plain as the noses on their faces - why did they have such big schnozes? One common answer suggests their faces somehow helped our extinct relatives deal with the extreme cold they faced. Now, however, scientists find that Neanderthal faces were not built for the cold -meaning that no one still knows why Neanderthals had such noses.
Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables BBC - December 27, 2010
Neanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals. Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth.
Differences in human and Neanderthal brains set in just after birth PhysOrg - November 8, 2010
The brains of newborn humans and Neanderthals are about the same size and appear rather similar overall. It's mainly after birth, and specifically in the first year of life, that the differences between our brains and those of our extinct relatives really take shape, according to a report published in the Nov. 9 issue of Current Biology.
Neanderthals Were More Promiscuous Than Modern Humans, Fossil Finger Bones Suggest Science Daily - November 6, 2010
Fossil finger bones of early human ancestors suggest that Neanderthals were more promiscuous than human populations today, researchers at the universities of Liverpool and Oxford have found.
Volcanoes Killed Off Neanderthals, Study Suggests National Geographic - September 24, 2010
Catastrophic volcanic eruptions in Europe may have culled Neanderthals to the point where they couldn't bounce back, according to a controversial new theory. Modern humans, though, squeaked by, thanks to fallback populations in Africa and Asia, researchers say. About 40,000 years ago in what we now call Italy and the Caucasus Mountains, which straddle Europe and Asia, several volcanoes erupted in quick succession, according to a new study.
Neanderthals were able to 'develop their own tools' BBC - September 24, 2010
Neanderthals were keen on innovation and technology and developed tools all on their own, scientists say. A new study challenges the view that our close relatives could advance only through contact with Homo sapiens. The team says climate change was partly responsible for forcing Neanderthals to innovate in order to survive.
Artefacts hint at earliest Neanderthals in Britain BBC - June 1, 2010
Archaeologists have found what they say is the earliest evidence of Neanderthals living in Britain. Two pieces of flint unearthed at motorway works in Dartford, Kent, have now been dated to 110,000 years ago. The finds push back the presence of Neanderthals in Britain by 40,000 years or more, said Dr Francis Wenban-Smith, from Southampton University. A majority of researchers believe Britain was uninhabited by humans at the time the flint tools were made. An absence of archaeological evidence suggests people abandoned this land between 200,000 years ago (or 160,000 years ago, depending on who you ask) and 65,000 years ago. But one researcher, unconnected with the study, said he was not convinced by the evidence presented so far.
Neanderthals Walked Into Frozen Britain 40,000 Years Earlier Than First Thought, Evidence Shows Science Daily - June 1, 2010
A University of Southampton archaeologist and Oxford Archaeology have found evidence that Neanderthals were living in Britain at the start of the last ice age, 40,000 years earlier than previously thought. The flints are waste flakes from the manufacture of unknown tools, which would almost certainly have mostly been used for cutting up dead animals. Tests on sediment burying the flints show they date from around 100,000 years ago, proving Neanderthals were living in Britain at this time. The country was previously assumed to have been uninhabited during this period.
Neanderthals, Humans Interbred - First Solid DNA Evidence National Geographic - May 6, 2010
Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study. The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance. The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together.
Neanderthal genes 'survive in us' BBC - May 6, 2010
Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to a landmark scientific study. The finding has surprised many experts, as previous genetic evidence suggested the Neanderthals made little or no contribution to our inheritance. The result comes from analysis of the Neanderthal genome - the "instruction manual" describing how these ancient humans were put together. Between 1% and 4% of the Eurasian human genome seems to come from Neanderthals. But the study confirms living humans overwhelmingly trace their ancestry to a small population of Africans who later spread out across the world.
Iraq: The Skeletons of Shanidar Cave Smithsonian - March 2010
A rare cache of hominid fossils from the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq offers a window on Neanderthal culture. -- Shanidar Cave Wikipedia
Last Neanderthals in Europe Died out 37,000 Years Ago Science Daily - January 27, 2010
The paper, by Professor Jo‹o Zilh‹o and colleagues, builds on his earlier research which proposed that, south of the Cantabro-Pyrenean mountain chain, Neanderthals survived for several millennia after being replaced or assimilated by anatomically modern humans everywhere else in Europe. Although the reality of this 'Ebro Frontier' pattern has gained wide acceptance since it was first proposed by Professor Zilh‹o some twenty years ago, two important aspects of the model have remained the object of unresolved controversy: the exact duration of the frontier; and the causes underlying the eventual disappearance of those refugial Neanderthal populations (ecology and climate, or competition with modern human immigrants).
Use of Body Ornamentation Shows Neanderthal Mind Capable of Advanced Thought Science Daily - January 13, 2010
The widespread view of Neanderthals as cognitively inferior to early modern humans is challenged by new research from the University of Bristol published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Joao Zilhao and colleagues examined pigment-stained and perforated marine shells, most certainly used as neck pendants, from two Neanderthal-associated sites in the Murcia province of south-east Spain. The analysis of lumps of red and yellow pigments found alongside suggest they were used in cosmetics. The practice of body ornamentation is widely accepted by archaeologists as conclusive evidence for modern behavior and symbolic thinking among early modern humans but has not been recognized in Neanderthals - until now.
Neanderthal 'make-up' containers discovered National Geographic - January 10, 2010
Scientists claim to have the first persuasive evidence that Neanderthals wore "body paint" 50,000 years ago. The team report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that shells containing pigment residues were Neanderthal make-up containers. Scientists unearthed the shells at two archaeological sites in the Murcia province of southern Spain. The team says its find buries "the view of Neanderthals as half-wits" and shows they were capable of symbolic thinking.
Did Neanderthals have sex with modern man? MSNBC - November 6, 2009
We are currently the only human species alive, but as recently as maybe 24,000 years ago another one walked the earth - the Neanderthals. These extinct humans were the closest relatives we had, and tantalizing new hints from researchers suggest that we might have been intimately close indeed. The mystery of whether Neanderthals and us had sex might possibly get solved if the entire Neanderthal genome is reported soon as expected. The matter of why they died and we succeeded, however, remains an open question. First recognized in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1856, Neanderthals revealed that modern humans possess a rich and complex family tree that includes now-extinct relatives. Neanderthals - also called Neandertals, due to changes in German spelling over the years - had robust skeletons that gave them wide bodies and short limbs compared to us. This made them more like wrestlers, while modern humans in comparison are more like long-distance runners.
Neanderthals wouldn't have eaten their sprouts either PhysOrg - August 12, 2009
They have found that a gene in modern humans that makes some people dislike a bitter chemical called phenylthiocarbamide, or PTC, was also present in Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years ago. The scientists made the discovery after recovering and sequencing a fragment of the TAS2R38 gene taken from 48,000-year-old Neanderthal bones found at a site in El Sidron, in northern Spain, they said in a report released Wednesday by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). This indicates that variation in bitter taste perception predates the divergence of the lineages leading to Neanderthals and modern humans.
Prehistoric cold case shows hints of interspecies homicide PhysOrg - July 21, 2009
The wound that ultimately killed a Neandertal man between 50,000 and 75,000 years was most likely caused by a thrown spear, the kind modern humans used but Neandertals did not, according to Duke University-led research. <
Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil BBC - June 15, 2009
Part of a Neanderthal man's skull has been dredged up from the North Sea, in the first confirmed find of its kind. Scientists in Leiden, in the Netherlands, have unveiled the specimen - a fragment from the front of a skull belonging to a young adult male. Chemical variants known as isotopes in the 60,000-year-old fossil suggest a carnivorous diet, matching results from other Neanderthal specimens. The North Sea is one of the world's richest areas for mammal fossils. But the remains of ancient humans are scarce; this is the first known specimen to have been recovered from the sea bed anywhere in the world. For most of the last half million years, sea levels were substantially lower than they are today.
Neanderthals 'distinct from us' - scientists map genome BBC - February 12, 2009
Scientists studying the DNA of Neanderthals say they can find no evidence that this ancient species ever interbred with modern humans. But our evolutionary cousins may well have been able to speak as well as us, said Prof Svante Paabo from Germany's Max Planck Institute.
Biodiversity Hotspot Enabled Neanderthals To Survive Up Until 24,000 Years Ago In South East Of Spain Science Daily - February 2, 2009
Over 14,000 years ago during the last Pleistocene Ice Age, when a large part of the European continent was covered in ice and snow, Neanderthals in the region of Gibraltar in the south of the Iberian peninsula were able to survive because of the refugium of plant and animal biodiversity. Today, plant fossil remains discovered in Gorham's Cave confirm this unique diversity and wealth of resources available in this area of the planet.
Competition, Not Climate Change, Led To Neanderthal Extinction, Study Shows Science Daily - December 30, 2008
In a recently conducted study, a multidisciplinary French-American research team with expertise in archaeology, past climates, and ecology reported that Neanderthal extinction was principally a result of competition with Cro-Magnon populations, rather than the consequences of climate change.
Late Neanderthals and modern human contact in southeastern Iberia PhysOrg - December 9, 2008
It is widely accepted that Upper Paleolithic early modern humans spread westward across Europe about 42,000 years ago, displacing and absorbing Neanderthal populations in the process. However, Middle Paleolithic assemblages persisted for another 8,000 years in Iberia, presumably made by Neanderthals. It has been unclear whether these late Middle Paleolithic Iberian assemblages were made by Neanderthals, and what the nature of those humans might have been.
Neanderthals Ate Seals and Dolphins BBC - September 23, 2008
It seems Neanderthals enjoyed a wide range of foods - a much broader menu than had previously been supposed. Excavations in caves in Gibraltar once occupied by the ancient humans show they ate seal and dolphin when they could get hold of the animals. There are even indications that mussels were warmed to open their shells. The findings give the lie to the popular view that Neanderthals ate a diet utterly dominated by meat from land animals.
DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled National Geographic - September 17, 2008
Meet Wilma - named for the redheaded Flintstones character the first model of a Neanderthal based in part on ancient DNA evidence.
Childbirth Was Already Difficult For Neanderthals Science Daily - September 9, 2008
Neanderthals had a brain at birth of a similar size to that of modern-day babies. However, after birth, their brain grew more quickly than it does for Homo sapiens and became larger too. Nevertheless, the individual lifespan ran just as slowly as it does for modern human beings. The only well-preserved find of a fossil newborn known to date provides new information on how, in the course of evolution, the very special kind of individual human development has crystallized.
Neanderthals beat mammoths, so why not us? MSNBC - September 9, 2008
They may have been stronger, but Neanderthals looked, ate and may have even thought much like modern humans do, suggest several new studies that could help explain new evidence that the early residents of prehistoric Europe and Asia engaged in head-to-head combat with woolly mammoths. Together, the findings call into question how such a sophisticated group apparently disappeared off the face of the earth around 30,000 years ago. The new evidence displays the strengths and weaknesses of Neanderthals, suggesting they were skilled hunters but not as brainy and efficient as modern humans, who eventually took over Neanderthal territories. Most notably among the new studies is what researchers say is the first ever direct evidence that a woolly mammoth was brought down by Neanderthal weapons.
Neanderthals Grew Fast, but Sexual Maturity Came Late National Geographic - September 9, 2008
Live fast, die young-this is how our closest relatives the Neanderthals were traditionally thought to progress through life. But a new study of Neanderthal skeletons suggests the species grew quickly but reached sexual maturity later than so-called modern humans - and quite possibly survived to a ripe old age.
'Complexity' of Neanderthal tools BBC - August 26, 2008
Early stone tools developed by our species Homo sapiens were no more sophisticated than those used by our extinct relatives the Neanderthals. That is the conclusion of researchers who recreated and compared tools used by these ancient human groups. The findings cast doubt on suggestions that more advanced stone technologies gave modern humans a competitive edge over the Neanderthals.
Neanderthals Didn't Mate With Modern Humans, Study Says National Geographic - August 12, 2008
Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans likely did not interbreed, according to a new DNA study. The research further suggests that small population numbers helped do in our closest relatives. Researchers sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome genetic information passed down from mothers - of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal thighbone found in a cave in Croatia.
Neandertals Had Big Mouths, Gaped Widely National Geographic - May 3, 2008
Neandertals had big mouths that they were able to open unusually wide, new research has determined. A recent study found that a combination of facial structure, forward-positioned molars, and an unusually large gap between the vertical parts of the back of the jaw allowed Neandertals (also spelled Neanderthals) to gape widely. Modern humans and our direct ancestors don't have these traits, the researchers note.
Neandertals Ate Their Veggies, Tooth Study Shows National Geographic - April 28, 2008
Tiny bits of plant material found in the teeth of a Neandertal skeleton unearthed in Iraq provide the first direct evidence that the early human relatives ate vegetation, researchers say. Little is known about diet of Neandertals (also spelled Neanderthals), although it's widely assumed that they ate more than just meat. Much of what is known about their eating habits has come from indirect evidence, such as animal remains found at Neandertal sites and chemical signatures called isotopes detected in their teeth. The new hard evidence is microfossils of plant material that investigators found in the dental plaque of Neanderthal teeth originally dated to 50,000 years ago.
Skull Changes Show Time of Human-Neandertal Split National Geographic - March 17, 2008
Gradual changes in human skull size and shape suggest a split between humans and Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) about 300,000 to 400,000 years ago, according to a new study. The work provides the first estimate of a divergence date for modern humans and Neandertals based on the rate of change of physical characteristics.
Neanderthals 'were flame-haired' BBC - October 25, 2007
Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown. A team reports in the journal Science that it extracted DNA from the remains of two Neanderthals and retrieved part of an important gene called MC1R. In modern people, a change - or mutation - in this gene causes red hair, but, until now, no one knew what hair color our extinct relatives had. By analysing a version of the gene in Neanderthals, the scientists found that they also have sported fiery locks.
Some Neandertals Were Pale Redheads, DNA Suggests National Geographic - October 25, 2007
Some Neandertals may have had red hair and pale skin, just as some modern humans do, according to a new genetic study. The traits were likely more common in European Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals), just as they are often seen in modern humans of European descent. While studying Neandertal DNA samples, Lalueza-Fox's team found an unknown mutation in a key gene called MC1R. Also present in modern humans, the gene regulates a protein that guides the production of melanin, which pigments hair and skin and protects from UV rays. Variations in this gene's sequence limit melanin production in people with pale skin and red hair, although the particular mutation found by the researchers is not known to occur in modern humans.
Neanderthals Had Same "Language Gene" as Modern Humans National Geographic - October 18, 2007
Neandertals might have been able to talk like us, a new genetic study suggests. A team of European researchers tested Neandertal bones recovered from a Spanish cave for a certain gene, called FOXP2, that has been dubbed "the speech and language gene." It's the only gene known so far that plays a key role in language. When mutated, the gene primarily affects language without affecting other abilities. The new study suggests that Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) had the same version of this gene that modern humans share a different version than is found in chimpanzees and other apes.
Neandertals Ranged Much Farther East Than Thought National Geographic - October 2, 2007
Neandertals made it all the way to Siberia, some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) farther east than previously thought, new DNA evidence suggests. Scientists have long known that Europe was a stomping ground for the Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals), with the human cousins spreading throughout the Mediterranean between around 200,000 and 30,000 years ago. Until now, though, experts had believed present-day Uzbekistan in Central Asia to be the easternmost extent of the Neandertal range (see a map of the region). Beyond this point the evidence becomes sparse.
Odd Skull Boosts Human, Neandertal Interbreeding Theory National Geographic - August 2, 2007
A human skull from a Romanian bear cave is shaking up ideas about ancient sex. The Homo sapiens skull has a distinctive feature previously found only in Neandertals, providing further evidence of interbreeding between the two species, according to a new study. The human cranium was found during World War II mining operations in 1942, in a cave littered with Ice Age cave bear remains. Recently the fossil was radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago and thoroughly examined, revealing the controversial anatomical feature. The otherwise human skull has a groove at the base of the back of the skull, just above the neck muscle, that is ubiquitous in Neandertal specimens but has never been seen in the remains of a modern human.
A sharp freeze could have dealt the killer blow that finished off our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals BBC - February 21, 2007
A sharp freeze could have dealt the killer blow that finished off our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals, according to a new study. The ancient humans are thought to have died out in most parts of Europe by about 35,000 years ago. And now new data from their last known refuge in southern Iberia indicates the final population was probably beaten by a cold spell some 24,000 years ago. The research is reported by experts from the Gibraltar Museum and Spain. They say a climate downturn may have caused a drought, placing pressure on the last surviving Neanderthals by reducing their supplies of fresh water and killing off the animals they hunted. Sediment cores drilled from the sea bed near the Balearic Islands show the average sea-surface temperature plunged to 8C (46F). Modern-day sea surface temperatures in the same region vary from 14C (57F) to 20C (68F).
Neandertals Turned to Cannibalism, Bone Cave Suggests National Geographic - December 5, 2006 <
Struggling for survival, Neandertals turned to cannibalism - even brain-eating - some 43,000 years ago, says a new study of mutilated bones discovered in a Spanish cave. The fossil remains also suggest that these prehistoric humans looked different from their northern counterparts. Bones from at least eight individuals showed clear signs of cannibalism, including defleshing, dismemberment, and skinning, according to the study team. The report provides some of the clearest evidence yet that Neandertals (often spelled "Neanderthals") ate their own kind, says paleoanthropologist Antonio Rosas of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid. Rosas is the lead researcher for the study, which is published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Neandertal DNA Partially Mapped, Studies Show National Geographic - November 15, 2006
Modern humans' closest relatives, the Neandertals, broke off from the family tree about 500,000 years ago, according to one of two new studies that analyzed DNA from the extinct species Homo neandertalis. Nuclear DNA from a 38,000-year-old Neandertal (often spelled Neanderthal) fossil leg bone from Croatia was sequenced and compared to DNA from modern humans and chimpanzees. The findings, published today in the journal Nature, also suggest that the entire Neandertal population was derived from a relatively small ancestral group of 3,000 individuals. The second study, released simultaneously by the journal Science, analyzed DNA from the same ancient Croatian bone, revealing for the first time that modern humans and Neandertals share 99.5 percent of their genetic makeup. But their analysis didn't find evidence that modern human and Neandertal DNA mixed, seeming to counter recent conclusions that Neandertals interbred with humans to the point of total absorption, leading to their extinction.
Neanderthal DNA secrets unlocked BBC - November 15, 2006
A genetic breakthrough could help clear up some long-standing mysteries surrounding our closest evolutionary relatives: the Neanderthals. Scientists have reconstructed a chunk of DNA from the genome of a Neanderthal man who lived 38,000 years ago. The genetic information they extracted from a thigh bone has allowed them to identify more than a million building blocks of Neanderthal DNA so far.
Neandertals, Modern Humans Interbred, Bone Study Suggests National Geographic - October 30, 2006
Trace your family tree all the way back to Stone Age Europe, and you may find Neandertals among your ancestors. A new study suggests that modern humans and Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) interbred fairly regularly and even mingled physical features as Homo sapiens spread across Europe some 35,000 years ago. The findings, based on ancient human bones from a cave in Romania, add to the long-running debate as to why Neandertals, a heavy-browed, thickset species of human, eventually went extinct.
Neanderthal Gene Study Reveals Early Split With Humans National Geographic - October 28, 2006
A new genetic study bolsters theories of an early human-Neandertal split and is helping scientists pinpoint what makes humans unique. Controversy has long swirled in the scientific community over how closely the Eurasian hunters resembled modern humans, with some researchers even claiming Neandertals (often spelled Neanderthals) were actually members of our own species, Homo sapiens.
Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge' BBC - September 13, 2006
Our evolutionary cousin the Neanderthal may have survived in Europe much longer than previously thought. A study in Nature magazine suggests the species may have lived in Gorham's Cave on Gibraltar up to 24,000 years ago. The Neanderthal people were believed to have died out about 35,000 years ago, at a time when modern humans were advancing across the continent. The new evidence suggests they held on in Europe's deep south long after the arrival of Homo sapiens. The research team believes the Gibraltar Neanderthals may even have been the very last of their kind. "It shows conclusively that Gorham's Cave today was the last place on the planet where we know Neanderthals lived," said lead author Professor Clive Finlayson, director of heritage at the Gibraltar Museum.
Neanderthal yields nuclear DNA BBC - May 16, 2006
The first sequences of nuclear DNA to be taken from a Neanderthal have been reported at a US science meeting. Geneticist Svante Paabo and his team say they isolated the long segments of genetic material from a 45,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil from Croatia. The work should reveal how closely related the Neanderthal species was to modern humans, Homo sapiens.
Fossils fill gap in human lineage BBC - April 13, 2006
Fossil hunters have found remains of a probable direct ancestor of humans that lived more than four million years ago. The specimens of this ancient creature are helping bridge a long gap during a crucial phase of human evolution.
Early hominid from the Caucasus may have 'cared for elderly' BBC - April 2005
Ancient hominids from the Caucasus may have fed and cared for their elderly, a new fossil find has indicated. The 1.77 million-year-old specimen, which is described in Nature magazine, was completely toothless and well over 40; a grand old age at the time. This may suggest that the creature lived in a complex society which was capable of showing compassion. Researchers think they may also have valued the old for their wisdom, just as more recent human groups have. "It is pretty amazing that hominid society fostered this kind of thing nearly 1.8 million years ago," said co-author Reid Ferring, of the University of North Texas, US.
Flesh on bones of 'first ape-man' BBC- April 2005
Experts are a step closer to answering whether an ancient skull from Africa belonged to a possible human ancestor or to a creature closer to apes. Fresh fossil finds from Chad in central Africa, as well as a new analysis of the skull, seem to confirm "Touma•" was closer to us, Nature magazine reports. The Touma• specimen was unearthed in Chad in 2002 to international acclaim. But rival researchers attacked claims by the discovery team that it was the oldest hominid, or human-like creature.
Oldest Fossil Protein Sequenced From Neanderthal Science Daily - April 2005
An international team, led by researchers at the Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany, have extracted and sequenced protein from a Neanderthal from Shanidar Cave, Iraq dating to approximately 75,000 years old. It is rare to recover protein of this age, and remarkable to be able to determine the constituent amino acid sequence. This is the oldest fossil protein ever sequenced. Protein sequences may be used in a similar way to DNA, to provide information on the genetic relationships between extinct and living species. As ancient DNA rarely survives, this new method opens up the possibility of determining these relationships in much older fossils which no longer contain DNA.
Neandertal Advance: First Fully Jointed Skeleton Built National Geographic - March 2005
Scientists have for the first time constructed a fully articulated, or jointed, Neandertal skeleton using castings from real Neandertal bones. The reconstruction, which has been part of several exhibitions, presents a striking visual image of what the Neandertal (often spelled Neanderthal) looked like, experts say. Anthropologists have long debated the skeletal differences between Neandertals and modern humans. The reconstruction suggests some strong differences in the form of the Neandertal's rib cage and pelvis compared to those of modern humans.
Age of ancient humans reassessed BBC - February 2005
Two skulls originally found in 1967 have been shown to be about 195,000 years old, making them the oldest modern human remains known to science. The age estimate comes from a re-dating of Ethiopian rock layers close to those that yielded the remarkable fossils. The skulls, known as Omo I and II, push back the known presence of Homo sapiens in Africa by 40,000 years.
The icy truth behind Neanderthals BBC - February 2005
In 1848, a strange skull was discovered on the military outpost of Gibraltar. It was undoubtedly human, but also had some of the heavy features of an ape - distinct brow ridges, and a forward projecting face. Just what was this ancient creature? And when had it lived? As more remains were discovered one thing became clear: this creature had once lived right across Europe. The remains were named Homo neanderthalensis - or Neanderthal Man - an ancient and primitive form of human. The archaeological evidence revealed that the earliest Neanderthals had lived in Europe about 200,000 years ago. But then, about 30,000 years ago, they disappeared - just at the time when the first "modern humans" appear in Europe. The story is that our ancestors, those modern humans, spread out of Africa about 100,000 years ago with better brains and more sophisticated tools. As they spread into Neanderthal territory, they simply out-competed their primitive cousins. But was Neanderthal really the brutish ape-man of legend, or an effective rival to our own species? And how exactly had he been driven to extinction?
Amazing hominid haul in Ethiopia BBC - January 2005
Fossil hunters working in Ethiopia have unearthed the remains of at least nine primitive hominids that are between 4.5 million and 4.3 million years old. The fossils, which were uncovered at As Duma in the north of the country, are mostly teeth and jaw fragments, but also include parts of hands and feet. All finds belong to the same species - Ardipithecus ramidus - which was first described about a decade ago.
Neanderthals were 'adults by 15' BBC - April 2004
The Neanderthals reached adulthood at the tender age of 15 according to a report in the journal Nature. French and Spanish researchers analyzed growth records preserved in the teeth of Neanderthals, modern humans and two other human species. Breaks in the deposition of crown enamel reveal how fast teeth grow. Neanderthals formed their crowns 15% quicker than we do, reaching adulthood when modern humans of the same age were still floundering in adolescence.
Early human marks are 'symbols' BBC - March 2004
A series of parallel lines engraved in an animal bone between 1.4 and 1.2 million years ago may be the earliest example of human symbolic behavior. When early humans butchered animal carcasses for meat, they left cut marks on the bones made by the stone tools they used to scrape away the flesh. But the French and Bulgarian researchers who have been excavating at Kozarnika claim the parallel cuts on the bones are too precise to be the result of hacking at the animal to strip away meat.
A New Branch Of Primitive Humans Reported Found In Ethiopia Space Daily - March 2004
Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, member of a scientific team working in the Middle Awash valley of the Afar Region in Ethiopia, and his colleagues have found dental evidence that elevates the hominid subspecies Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba to its own species, Ardipithecus kadabba. This new species, dating between 5.54 and 5.77 million years old, is the oldest member of the genus Ardipithecus.
Late Neanderthals 'more like us' BBC - December 2003
Neanderthals were shedding their sturdy physique and evolving in the direction of modern humans just before they disappeared from the fossil record. Newly identified remains from Vindija in Croatia, which date to between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago, are more delicate than "classic" Neanderthals. One controversial explanation is that these Neanderthals were interbreeding with modern humans in the region.
Neanderthals 'had hands like ours' BBC - March 2003
Computer reconstructions of fossilized bones show their hands had almost the same manual dexterity as ours. The popular image of Neanderthals as clumsy, backward creatures has been dealt another blow.
Did Neandertals Lack Smarts to Survive? National Geographic - March 2003
Scientists have been pondering the question posed by the Neandertals who were they, and what happened to them since the first fossil remains were found in Germany's Neander Valley in 1856. By combining what can be told by fossils and artifacts with what has been learned by geneticists, we're getting closer to answering those questions, said Richard Klein, a paleoanthropologist at Stanford University, California.
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