Neanderthals co-existed with human beings, we wonder where they went.

What happened to our neanderthal cousins?

{00:00} Contrary to popular belief, Columbus did not actually discover America. Almost 500 years before Columbus, Lief Ericsson, a Viking, landed on the coast of Newfoundland. But even he wasn’t the first to reach Americas. Native Americans had already migrated to this region thousands of years ago.

{02:50} We discovered the existence of Neanderthals in 1856 when quarrymen found the fossils of human-like species in the Neander Valley in Germany. In the 1820s, a skull was discovered which belonged to a neanderthal girl. But this discovery did not get much attention.

{04:28} Neanderthals lived in caves which were intricate in design with many passages and were dark. Everything happened inside these caves, everything! They had a social life where the young took care of the old. After death, the buried the corpse and they were very interested in making jewellery, paintings and carvings.

{06:32} The biological characteristics of Neanderthals were different from human beings to adapt to the cold climate of Europe. They had a stockier body with muscle mass and were shorter than modern humans. They had to adapt to the severe cold of the ice age as well. They weren’t as athletic as human beings. Once they settled down in Europe, they did not move around much. They had a larger cranial capacity.

{08:30} A study of the ear canal of Neanderthals revealed that they were not very agile. The evolutionary changes happened to the Neanderthals when they were settled in Europe. They were comfortable with the conditions in the areas they settled down. There wasn’t much innovation that happened during their time of existence compared to humans who were innovating.

{12:20} Humans explored more of the world and migrated to different parts of the world and also the population of modern humans were increasing compared to Neanderthals who never exceeded more than 70,000 in number at any given time. Humans were agiler and made advancements in making weapons and tools like the invention of bow and arrow.

{13:58} There was a time where modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed. There are different theories on how Neanderthals became extinct. Some speculate that humans killed them off or we interbred into them and slowly all the purebred neanderthals ceased to exist.

{15:42} Since they were stocky, and lived in dense forests, they used heavy spears and hunted in close proximity. Since they were muscular and strong, they could hunt with spears. The dense forests later retreated back and areas turned into grasslands and this caused a difficulty for them to hunt for prey. They had a higher metabolism rate than humans. This meant they had a bigger requirement for food. There are multiple such reasons that ultimately resulted in their extinction. Diseases might also be a reason for their wipe out. Humans migrating from Africa might have carried diseases which Neanderthals weren’t able to survive.

For now, it remains a mystery as to why such a species ceased to exist.

Image: Pixabay