Who Were the Neanderthals Natural History Museum?

Neanderthals are a fascinating species of hominids that lived in Europe and parts of Asia for over 200,000 years. They were first discovered in the Neander Valley of Germany in 1856 by quarry workers who stumbled upon a set of fossilized bones. Since then, numerous discoveries have been made, and scientists have been able to learn a great deal about these ancient humans.

Physical Characteristics

One of the most distinctive features of the Neanderthals was their robust build. They had a thick, muscular body with short limbs, which helped them to conserve heat in the cold European climate. Their skulls were also unique, with a low forehead, prominent brow ridges, and a wide nose.

Culture and Lifestyle

Despite their primitive appearance, Neanderthals were actually quite sophisticated. They lived in small communities and hunted large game such as mammoths, bison, and deer. They also used tools made from stone and bone to cut meat from carcasses and fashion clothing from animal hides.

Neanderthals were also capable of symbolic thought and expression. Evidence suggests that they may have buried their dead and created art such as cave paintings.

Relationship to Modern Humans

For many years it was believed that Neanderthals went extinct around 30,000 years ago without leaving any descendants. However, recent genetic studies have shown that modern humans actually share between 1-4% of their DNA with Neanderthals.

This has led scientists to believe that interbreeding between the two species occurred when modern humans began to migrate into Europe around 50-60 thousand years ago.


In conclusion, the story of the Neanderthals is one that continues to fascinate scientists and laypeople alike. Through careful study of their fossils and artifacts left behind, we can gain insight into the lives and culture of these ancient humans.

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