Neanderthals: Death Through Inbreeding With Humans?

Neanderthal Clan

Why did Neanderthals disappear?

Neanderthals died out around 30,000 years ago. Why was that? Did they die out due to breeding with humans or did our ancestors kill them off? Steve Connor of the UK Independent reviews this question as he reports on a new finding that might solve the riddle in The Neanderthal Murder Mystery.

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the article explaining the main differences between us humans and our Neanderthal relatives:

Neanderthal Man

Heavy jawbone and beetle brow would have made him look like a rugby player on steroids. Flared rib cage meant he did not have a defined waistline. Strong muscles would have added to his thick-set appearance. Used stone tools, controlled fire and buried his dead but little evidence for more symbolic behaviour. Presence of hyoid bone in the throat suggests the use of speech, but experts doubt that language was sophisticated. Well adapted to cold conditions, with short limbs and heavy torso, which would have helped to survive the successive ice ages in Europe.

Modern Man

Graceful chin and jaw and lack of a double arch over the eyebrow gives his face a softer appearance. Tapering rib cage separated the lower abdomen from the chest, giving a marked waistline. Used sophisticated stone tools, controlled fire and buried their dead with ritual. Indicates the development of symbolic thought and being able to plan for the future. Hyoid bone indicates speech as an important feature in terms ofsocial organisation. Gracile limbs and body indicates adaptation to a warm climate.


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One Response to Neanderthals: Death Through Inbreeding With Humans?

  1. […] Neanderthals are a hot topic in the world of archaeology. Recently on this site, we reviewed the long running debate on how the neanderthals disappeared so rapidly by asking whether they were the victims of inbreeding with early humans. […]

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