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Neandertals

THE LAST NEANDERTHALS:
The Evolution and Extinction of a Species
April Nowell, PhD, is an archaeologist and associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Victoria
Since the discovery of the first Neanderthal remains in 1856 in Germany, this species has generated controversy: questions concerning their genetic relationship to modern humans, their capacity for language and artistic expression, and the reasons for their extinction. Learn about the latest research transforming our understanding of these ancient people.


The valley where they were first discovered is called Neanderthal and is in Germany. Academics these days have been dropping the "h" because it's pronounced without a "th" sound. The academic speaking said she was going to start putting the "h" back in after a visit to the Neanderthal valley by train. April mostly works in Jordan. The Neanderthal (that's how I think I spell it) never lived in Africa, they are found in Eurasia and the Levant.

Description
no chin
sloped forehead
cold adaptations
big nostrils
short arm bones, leg bones
compact stout build, stocky, short, thick necked
broad face, heavy boned
cranial capacity 1700 cc's: bigger than ours, brain organization unknown
1-4% of genes shared with modern humans, entire genome has been mapped
language development: have Fox P2 gene (related to language development)
also have hyoid bone identical to modern human, essential for speech
Type O blood, omnivore, heavy meat eater
ability to taste Bitter
limited memory? book: How to Think Like a Neanderthal

Culture
bury their dead (book: Paleolithic Origins of Burial by Paul Petit)
genetic evidence of interbreeding
Levallois technology---chipped rock tools
Birch bark pitch used as glue
personal adornment: wore shell necklaces
complex use of space--compartmentalized cooking, toilet, etc
"stone flute"---probably just canine chewed bone, not musical intent or design

Timeline
30,000 years ago: Extinct, last refuge was in Gibraltar, reduction of genetic diversity
100,000 years ago: prehumans left Africa and went to Europe, then the Middle East
5-7 million ya: Diverged from other mammals

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
madman101
Apr. 14th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
oddly, i was just now researching neandertals (my spelling), (one of my favourite subjects, for a future post
liveonearth
Apr. 14th, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
Can't wait!
bobby1933
Apr. 15th, 2012 06:34 am (UTC)
I read madman's post first. My questions remain. If we share 97% of our genes with chimpanzees, how can we only share 4% with Neanderthals.

Thanks, that was interesting!
liveonearth
Apr. 16th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
I don't agree with the stat she quoted about the % we share with Neanderthals. We share more than 4% with fruit flies, or corn. So there must be some particular pool of genes they are referring to. It was not clear.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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