History of the Universe

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Neanderthals 600 kya

More advanced people called Neanderthals appeared during the last interglacial period of the recent ice age, probably about 600 thousand years ago although the date they first appeared is not well known. They spread throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Their remains were first found in the Neander Valley, in German called Neander Tal.

Compared to modern people they were short and sturdy. Their skulls were thick-boned, long from back to front and low from top to bottom, with heavy brow ridges.

They hunted the woolly mammoth and other animals which lived on the ice. They had large brains and learnt how to make clothes and advanced tools. From the shape of their throats it seems that Neanderthals could make the same kinds of sounds as modern people, so we guess they could speak. It seems they buried their dead with flowers and other objects. Different cultures existed in different areas.

Stone technology evolved. A technology is a method of making or doing something useful. Neanderthals had wood, leather and ivory technologies too. Each of these led to a change in the way they lived. They probably learnt new technologies by chance.

One thing the Neanderthals seemed to lack was a sense of art. Neanderthals were replaced by modern humans about 30 thousand years ago.

Neanderthal reconstruction image by Stefanie Krull, Neanderthal Museum, Picture Library, Talstr. 300, 40822 Mettmann, Germany

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