The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the human race, an unnecessary link on our evolutionary path. This species existed 350-600 thousand years ago on the territory of modern Europe.
Neanderthals were hunched, stumpy people with large heads. They buried the dead, helped the sick.
Neanderthals lived side by side with our ancestors for millennia until they became extinct. In fact, this species had many interesting features hidden from us by myths.
The Neanderthals couldn't speak, they just chuckled. This myth has been formed for a long time. It was believed that Neanderthals had only a basic capacity to play sounds in the throat, so they could not talk. However, in 1883, scientists discovered the hyoid bone of a Neanderthal in an Israeli cave. But she is part of a vocal instrument, identical to that of a modern person. This directly suggests that the ability of the Neanderthals to speak was the same as ours. Today there is no doubt that they had at least a basic system of vocal communication. Scientists think that the language of the Neanderthals may have consisted of consonants, with a small number of vowels. The same is found today in some human languages.
Neanderthals were our ancestors. In fact, man did not come from them. At that time, the ancestors of modern humans and the Neanderthals existed side by side as two separate groups. About half a million years ago, a genetic divergence between them began. DNA studies have shown that Neanderthals are a separate evolutionary line, ultimately dead-end. The differences in genes between the two types of people are painfully significant. The last Neanderthals became extinct about 30 thousand years ago. There are several theories as to why this happened. Most likely, in an unstable climate, the birth rate has decreased and the death rate has increased. This became critical for the species. Probably, they were supplanted by people of the modern type, Cro-Magnons. They came to Europe 40-50 thousand years ago, having managed to survive in the conditions of intense competition.
The Neanderthals were hairy. Despite the classic depictions of Neanderthals as hairy people, there is no reason to believe that they were somehow different from modern people in this regard. Computer models showed that excess body hair in such people would lead to an overproduction of sweat. It would freeze, which could potentially lead to death of Neanderthals.
The main weapon of the Neanderthal was the club. This myth represents the Neanderthals as very primitive creatures. They actually had quite a few advanced tools and weapons. To kill the mammoth, these people used spears, and processed stones were also weapons. It is believed that they used tools of the Mousterian era. The materials were processed using soft tools made of wood, horns and bones, and not using stone hammers. And the Neanderthals managed to make many of their instruments sharp. There is strong evidence that they often used wood. But these items have simply not survived to this day.
Neanderthals had bent knees and moved like chimpanzees. In this case, the discovery led not to new knowledge, but to confusion. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Neanderthal skeleton with bent knees was found. Scientists began to believe that all Neanderthals were like that. It was only much later that it turned out that this was a man suffering from arthritis. And the Neanderthals walked upright, like modern man.
Neanderthals were dwarfs. This species had an average height, around 165 centimeters. It is only 12-14 centimeters shorter than a modern person.
Neanderthals were wild creatures. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that these people lived in communities, caring for the old and the sick. There was fossil evidence that some creatures had potentially life-threatening injuries, but they completely healed. This suggests that the wounded person was fed by his relatives while he was recovering. The corpse of a deep old man was found at that time, he was about 50 years old, and he did not have a single tooth. This suggests that someone chewed his food and fed a respected member of the tribe. Fossilized musical instruments have been found that prove that the Neanderthals even used them and made sounds deliberately.
All Neanderthals were alike. Since the same term is used to describe all Neanderthals, we believe that in this group of people all had similar facial features and characteristics. In fact, they had their own ethnic groups, just like modern people. Recent studies have established that there were probably three races in the Neanderthal family. This is consistent with the findings of paleoanthropologists. One race of Neanderthals lived in Western Europe, another in the South, and a third in Western Asia. Such conclusions were made based on the study of genetic material.
Neanderthals lived in caves. This statement is only partly true, many Neanderthals actually lived in caves. This is how the name “cave people” appeared. But many of them lived in huts. During the ice age, people had typical huts. They were built from parts of the bodies and bones of mammoths, covered with animal skins. These houses have been in use for many years, so they were carefully built. Holes for them were dug deep in the ground. Then poles were inserted there, and at the top point they were tied with a rope created from animal intestines. Warm furs were laid out along the perimeter of this structure, and then they were tightly sewn together. Large stones were laid out around the bottom of the hut to help keep it strong.
Neanderthals had faces like monkeys. Such misconceptions arose on the basis of simple skeletal reconstructions, only those people suffered from arthritis. In 1983, forensic artist Jay Matterns, who worked on the outlines of those killed in the course of the investigations, made the reconstruction on a much better basis than before. As a result, a drawing of a Neanderthal man appeared, in which his appearance differs little from modern people. If we met such a person on the street in a suit, we would not think anything bad about him. The same applies to other reconstructed Neanderthal faces.
Some of the physical characteristics of Neanderthals will never be known. As of 2009, scientists have received a complete decoding of the Neanderthal genome at their disposal. The most important consequence of this is that it is currently technically possible to clone it, to revive it from the dead. The current cost of such a project is $ 30 million, but no one is in a hurry to invest in this business. There are ethical issues that always come up with cloning. But there is no doubt that we know enough about Neanderthals to be resurrected over time.
Neanderthals had no religion. Flowers and food were found in the burials of this species of people. This directly suggests that the Neanderthals believed in an afterlife, they had a religious and magical practice. There was a cult of animal skulls among such people, which implies the rites of hunting magic.
Neanderthals were primitive creatures. It is known that the brain of these creatures was even larger than ours. It's just that the largest parts of it were responsible for simple functions such as vision. Over time, scientists discovered rock paintings in the Neanderthal caves. They suggested that these people had developed abstract thinking. This is also proved by the existence of complex jewelry and tools. Some scientists suggest that in some ways the Neanderthals were even smarter than us, they just thought differently.
Neanderthals were cannibals, unlike Cro-Magnons. Scientists have no doubt that the Neanderthals were indeed cannibals. Gnawed human bones were found at their site. Moreover, both deceased tribesmen and captured Cro-Magnons became food. But such gastronomic addictions were mutual - the Cro-Magnons also ate Neanderthals, as evidenced by the remains at the sites. But in early human history, cannibalism was common.