Neanderthals

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Neanderthals are an extinct species of the genus Homo, closely related to Homo sapiens. They are believed to have died out died out in Europe between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago.

With an average cranial capacity of 1600 cm3, the Neanderthal's cranial capacity is notably larger than the 1400 cm3 average for modern humans, indicating that their brain size was larger. Neanderthal males were slightly taller and heavier than Neanderthal females; however, sexual dimorphism was not nearly as extreme as what is seen in earlier human species.

Neanderthals made and used a diverse set of sophisticated tools, controlled fire, lived in shelters, made and wore clothing, were skilled hunters of large animals and also ate plant foods, and occasionally made symbolic or ornamental objects[1][2].

The genome of Neanderthals was sequenced in 2010 and compared with genomes of few modern human beings[3]. Interestingly, data revealed about 1-4% of the genome of people from Eurasia are derived from Neanderthals, while no gene with Neanderthals origin are found in genomes from Africans. These findings supported the Out of Africa Hypothesis, which only Homo sapiens who left the African continent interbreed with Neanderthals while native Africans did not.

References

  1. Smithsonian Institution http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-neanderthalensis
  2. Pallab Ghosh http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28693371
  3. A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/328/5979/710
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