Nobel laureate Svante Paabo and his team have recently published one of the biggest genetic studies yet of Neanderthals, providing clues about their community life and structure.

 

Who are ‘neanderthals’?

  • Neanderthals are a hominin species that existed for at least 200,000 years throughout Europe and western Asia, and disappeared about 27,000 years ago.
  • During this time, they witnessed some of the coldest climatic conditions ever known in these regions.
  • Many of their physical features suggest that they were adapted for the cold, such as their barrel-shaped chests, shorter limbs, and larger brains, all of which suggest a body shape adapted for retaining heat.
  • Their face was also distinctive. The central part of the face protruded forward and was dominated by a very big, wide nose.
  • They excelled at hunting animals and making complex stone tools
  • They were first discovered in 1856.
  • Many Europeans and Asians have between 1 per cent and 4 per cent Neanderthal DNA while African people south of the Sahara have almost zero.