Neanderthals: our closest extinct relatives

Neanderthals are one of the most mysterious and amazing species that have ever existed on Earth. They were our closest relatives, and we even interbred with them. However, despite their intelligence and abilities, they became extinct while we continue to thrive. In this article, we will look at the reasons why Neanderthals disappeared and learn more about them.

Our common ancestor

Neanderthals appeared about 400,000 years ago, probably descended from an earlier ancestor, Homo heidelbergensis. They were very successful and spread from the Mediterranean to Siberia. Their brains were even larger than those of Homo sapiens.

Cultural achievements

Neanderthals were very intelligent and talented creatures. They hunted big game, gathered plants and mushrooms, managed fire, and made sophisticated tools. They also sewed clothes from animal skins and created jewelry from shells. Neanderthals were the first to carve symbols into cave walls.

Encounters and interbreeding

Neanderthals and our ancestors met many times over tens of thousands of years. They even befriended each other. According to research, 99.7% of Neanderthal and modern human DNA is identical. This suggests that we share a common ancestor.

Causes of extinction

The exact cause of the disappearance of Neanderthals is still a mystery. However, there are several hypotheses:

– The changing climate of the last ice age put pressure on the available food sources for Neanderthals.
– Small populations and group isolation led to genetic instability.
– Competition with Homo sapiens, who appeared in Africa about 60,000 years ago, may have led to assimilation of Neanderthals into larger groups of humans.

Evidence and research

Over the past 150 years, we have collected numerous traces of Neanderthals that have helped us learn more about them. We have found fossilized bones, tools, jewelry, and even mapped their genome from ancient DNA. These studies confirm that Neanderthals were our closest extinct relatives.

In conclusion, Neanderthals are a fantastic species that existed near us. They were intelligent and talented, but for whatever reason they became extinct. The research and evidence that we have discovered allows us to better understand our ancestors and the origins of mankind.

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