Neanderthal was the story of the rise and fall of one of the most successful human species that ever lived. A species that survived for over a quarter of a million years, living through and adapting to the most violent extremes of climate. A species that thrived - until modern man came along.
This revealing two-part drama documentary combined the latest scientific research with a stunning mixture of drama and cutting edge 3D animation to reconstruct the lives of these remarkable early humans. In the second part, the advanced Cro-Magnons arrive and a new Ice Age is dawning.
Neanderthal or Neandertal, is the common name given to any individual of the species Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (also known as Homo neanderthalensis), and to the entire species. Neanderthals have often been regarded as a subspecies of modern human beings (Homo sapiens sapiens or just Homo sapiens), but increasingly they are treated as a distinct species. Neanderthal remains span a timescale ranging from about 120,0 to 30,0 years ago and have been found in Middle Stone Age sites mainly in Europe and south-west Asia. The species is named after a site in the Neander River valley (German, tal, "valley") where the first skeletal remains to be recognized as belonging to this type were found.
Neanderthals had long, low, thick-boned skulls, with heavy brow ridges, in contrast to the high-domed, thin-walled skulls of modern human beings. The robust, heavily muscled frames of Neanderthals, with relatively long bodies and short legs, were well adapted to their hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the often extremely cold conditions leading up to the last Ice Age. Although males were more strongly built than females, both sexes were very muscular, even as children. Neanderthals had large heads with very large projecting noses and receding chins. On average their brains were as large or larger than the average modern human brain, which was probably related more to their large body size and heavy musculature, than heightened intelligence.
Although Neanderthal technology was fairly simple, there is evidence that they were capable hunters, and that they demonstrated a degree of compassion by caring for the infirm and the disabled, and by burying their dead. It has been suggested that Neanderthals practised cannibalism, but there is little substantial evidence in the archaeological record to support this theory. While some scientists believe that Neanderthals did not have the brain capacity to produce art, evidence to the contrary is slowly emerging. In 2003 a Neanderthal "mask"—a face carved from flint with bone for eyes—was found on the banks of the River Loire in France, indicating that Neanderthals may have been more sophisticated than previously thought.
Neanderthals disappeared from the archaeological record in Europe some 35,0 to 30,0 years ago, possibly as a result of the arrival of early modern people, who competed for the same resources