The Neanderthals or Neandertals (/niˈændərˌθɔːlz/, /niˈændərˌtɔːlz/, /niˈændərˌtɑːlz/, /neɪˈɑːndərˌtɑːlz/ or /niˈændərθəlz/) are an extinct species or subspecies of the genus Homo which is closely related to modern humans. They are known from fossils, dating from the Pleistocene period, which have been found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. The species is named after Neandertal ("Neander's Valley"), the location in Germany where it was first discovered.

Neanderthals are classified either as a subspecies of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or as a separate species of the same genus (Homo neanderthalensis). The first humans with proto-Neanderthal traits are believed to have existed in Europe as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago.

When the Neanderthals went extinct is disputed. Fossils found in the Vindija Cave in Croatia have been dated to between 33,000 and 32,000 years old, and Neanderthal artefacts from Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar are believed to be less than 30,000 years ago, but a recent study has re-dated fossils at two Spanish sites as 45,000 years old, 10,000 years older than previously thought, and may cast doubt on recent dates at other sites. Cro-Magnon (early-modern-human) skeletal remains showing certain "Neanderthal traits" have been found in Lagar Velho (Portugal) and dated to 24,500 years ago, suggesting that there may have been an extensive admixture of the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal populations in that region.

Several cultural assemblages have been linked to the Neanderthals in Europe. The earliest, the Mousterian stone tool culture, dates to about 300,000 years ago. Late Mousterian artifacts were found in Gorham's Cave on the south-facing coast of Gibraltar. Other tool cultures associated with the Neanderthals include the Châtelperronian, the Aurignacian, and the Gravettian; their tool assemblages appear to have developed gradually within their populations, rather than being introduced by new population groups arriving in the region.

Neanderthal cranial capacity is thought to have been as large as that of modern humans, perhaps larger, indicating that their brain size may have been comparable, or larger, as well. In 2008, a group of scientists created a study using three-dimensional computer-assisted reconstructions of Neanderthal infants based on fossils found in Russia and Syria. The study showed Neanderthal and modern human brains were the same size at birth, but by adulthood, the Neanderthal brain was larger than the modern human brain. They were much stronger than modern humans, having particularly strong arms and hands. Males stood 164–168 cm (65–66 in) and females about 152–156 cm (60–61 in) tall.

Genetic evidence published in 2010 suggests that Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of anatomically modern humans, probably through interbreeding between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago with the population of anatomically modern humans who had recently migrated from Africa. According to the study, by the time that population began dispersing across Eurasia, Neanderthals genes constituted as much as 1–4% of its genome.

Read more about NeanderthalName, Classification, Origin, Discovery, Habitat and Range, Anatomy, Behavior, Genome, Extinction Hypotheses, Interbreeding Hypotheses, Specimens, Popular Culture, See Also

Other articles related to "neanderthal, neanderthals":

Neanderthal - See Also
... Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Neanderthal Museum Pleistocene megafauna Lists List of fossil sites (with link directory) List of human evolution fossils (with images) List of Neanderthal sites ...
Sidrón Cave
... Asturias, northwestern Spain, where Paleolithic rock art and Neanderthal remains have been found ... In 1994, Neanderthal remains were inadvertently uncovered inside the cave ... Neanderthal ancient mtDNA was partially sequenced in HVR region for three distinct Neanderthals from El Sidrón cave (441, 1253, and 1351c) ...
Neanderthal (disambiguation)
... Neanderthal, or Homo neanderthalensis, was a species of the Homo genus that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia ... Neanderthal may also refer to Neandertal, a valley near Düsseldorf, Germany, famous for the discovery of the first found Neanderthal in 1856 Neanderthal 1, the skull found ...
Marcellin Boule
... published the first analysis of a complete Neanderthal specimen ... In an illustration he commissioned, the Neanderthal was characterized as a hairy gorilla-like figure with opposable toes, according to a skeleton which ... As a result, Neanderthals were viewed in subsequent decades as being highly primitive creatures with no direct relation to anatomically modern humans ...
La Ferrassie 1
... La Ferrassie 1 is a male Neanderthal skeleton estimated to be 70–50,000 years old ... The skull is the largest and most complete Neanderthal skull ever found ... The skull displays many of the "classic" examples of Neanderthal anatomy, including a low a, sloping forehead and large nasal openings ...

Famous quotes containing the word neanderthal:

    The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man.
    Rachel Carson (1907–1964)