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Neanderthals

An extinct species of the genus Homo which is closely related to modern humans that lived in Europe and Western Asia about 150,000 to 30,000 years ago. Based on fossil and archeological records, they were large-brained people with a distinct body plan and skull morphology compared to modern humans, associated with Mousterian stone tools. Neanderthals had dominated in Europe and western and central Asia for 200,000 years, until their population declined for unknown reasons. After retreating to isolated refuges in southern Europe, they finally died out approximately 28,000 years ago.

The latest findings based on genome taken from toe bones found in a Siberian cave show that the Neanderthals kept sex all within the family, had great vision but terrible social skills. Although they were skilled at hunting for large woolly mammoths, they seemed incapable of hunting smaller animals like the rabbits, a skill essential for survival as the populations of Iberian large animals reduced over time and the rabbits would have become an increasingly important food resource.

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  • Category: Archaeology
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