preview

Neanderthals

Better Essays
The first Neanderthal remains, discovered in Germany in 1856, were presented to the world of science at a meeting of the Lower Rhine Medical and Natural History Society held in Bonn in February 1857 and named a species, Homo neanderthalensis, by William King in 1864. Some Neanderthal fossils and other remains are in excellent condition, giving a good idea of Neanderthal culture. In 1887, two complete skeletons were found in a cave near Spy in Belgium, and more from sites in France in 1887, 1908 and 1911. These and other finds showed that the Neanderthals had populated Europe widely from about 130,000 to 28,000 years ago after which they became extinct. Most of these fossils were found in caves. Usually they are associated with cold adapted species such as reindeer, arctic fox, lemming and mammoth. The current conclusion drawn from fossil evidence is that Neanderthals emerged at least 230,000 years and maybe even 300,000 years ago. In the Far East, in contrast, there is quite a clear evolution from Homoerectus, by a generalized Homosapiens to Homosapiens sapiens with Mongoloid features, but no Neanderthal presence. In northern Spain, fossils of an 800,000-year-old fossil named Homo antecessor, has also been proposed as the common ancestor to humans and Neanderthals. Others say that Homo heidelbergensis is the more likely of modern and primitive features hints at some surprises as more fossils from this period are unearthed. One line of thought places Homo ergaster as ancestral to Homo antecessor in Africa. A population of Homo antecessor migrated via the Middle East to Europe about one million years ago and evolved into Homo heidelbergensis and then into Neanderthals. The population of Homo antecessor that remained in Africa evolved into Homo sapiens. Another possibility is that Homo antecessor is ancestral to both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. The Neanderthal was not human. Genetic evidence from a comparison of human and Neanderthal mitochondria shows that while chimpanzee and human lineage's diverged four million years ago, the Neanderthals diverged over 550,000 to 690,000 years ago. Human trunk and limb bones of Homo antecessor, recovered from the Ran Doling site, in the Sierra de Atapuerca have been dated at about 780,000 old and are said to represent the last common ancestor for Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. Living humans have on ...

... middle of paper ...

...l between 40,000 and 80,000 years old Anthropologists date modern human fossils from the same area at between 92,000 and
101,000 years.
With the arrival in Europe of modern humans, with an advanced and sophisticated technology 40,000years ago, Neanderthals started to vanish. Around 35,000 years ago temperatures started to decline and the most recent Neanderthal remains are found south in isolated seaside caves in Spain. Some tools are 29,000 years old. Neanderthals were still living in Croatia as recently as 28,000 years ago and in southern Spain only 30,000 years ago. The Croatian population had some modern human anatomical characteristics. A fossil of a 24,500-year-old early modern human child unearthed in
Portugal shows distinctive Neanderthal characteristics, possibly the result of interbreeding. After that, all record vanish.
Although DNA tests show that modern humans and Neanderthals diverged from a common ancestor more than 500,000 years ago and that modern humans do not carry Neanderthal genes and so did not interbreed when they encountered each other 50,000 years ago, the discovery of possible hybrids suggests that we still have not fully completed the Neanderthal story.
Get Access