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Illustration of Neanderthal Man Cut Deer with Stone Tool (Roni / Adobe Stock)

Complex Neanderthal Technology Driven by Paleo Dietary Needs


Modern man’s closest human relatives were Neanderthals - that famed ancient species pronounced with a ’t’ rather than a ‘th’, - with their defining large faces, angled cheek bones and broad noses used for humidifying and warming cold, dry air. While Neanderthal’s bodies were shorter and stockier than modern man’s comparatively taller thin frames, theirs was an adaptation due to their living in colder environments. However, their brains were larger and this advantage is now becoming apparent in the discovery of ancient technologies developed by the extinct species; technologies, that demand an entire paradigm shift regarding the theories on how Neanderthals lived and died.

A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Finding the First Specimen

Neanderthals were highly-skilled pack hunters who focused on killing large animals, but they also ate plant foods, and it was in hunting animals and gathering plants that their rudimentary survival crafts led them to develop a diverse and wide range of sophisticated weapons and tools. Living in cave dwellings, Neanderthals controlled fire, made and wore clothing, and evidence suggests they buried their dead with deliberation, occasionally marking their graves with ritualistic offerings such as flowers and plants. Apart from human beings, no other species of primate had ever practiced this sophisticated behavior, which is symbolic of a developed culture.

In 1856 at the Feldhofer Cave in the Neander Valley in Germany scientists mistook the discovery of Neanderthal 1, for an early human skeleton because it had such thick bones and an oval shaped skull with receding forehead and distinct brow ridges. It was a decade later in 1864 that geologist William King suggested it was a different species and it was named  Homo neanderthalensis after the location of its discovery .  Drs E. Delson and E. Harvati, in their 2006 paper titled Return of the last Neanderthal, explained that several decades after Neanderthal 1 was discovered a series of prior fossil discoveries made in 1829 at Engis, Belgium and in 1848 at Forbes Quarry in Gibraltar, were reinterpreted as also being Neanderthal, but in fact these two earlier discoveries were actually the first early human fossils ever found.

The entrance to Gorham's Cave on the south-eastern flank of the Rock of Gibraltar is one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals in Europe. (Gibmetal77 / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The entrance to Gorham's Cave on the south-eastern flank of the Rock of Gibraltar is one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals in Europe. (Gibmetal77 / CC BY-SA 3.0)


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Ashley Cowie is a Scottish historian, author and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems, in accessible and exciting ways. His books, articles and television shows explore lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and artifacts, symbols and architecture, myths and legends telling thought-provoking stories which together offer insights into our shared social history.

Top Image: Illustration of Neanderthal Man Cut Deer with Stone Tool (Roni / Adobe Stock)

By Ashley Cowie



Science has for the last 150 years, been subservient to politics!

Bias against Neanderthals and other 'archaic' lineages will not disappear quickly. An article in Australia today talks of a south coast dig attempting to push back the Aboriginal history of the continent to 120,000 years. In itself, that's not really remarkable. However, there's only circumstantial evidence of early human activity dated to that period uncovered on site thus far.

Yet, no mention is made, nor probably will be made, of the simple fact that without hard evidence human activity cannot be easily attributed to one group or another, Aboriginal or otherwise. One cannot yet say that the evidence available now, if correct (a fireplace and a midden, potentially), could not be related to a human species other than ours. Other humans made it well into Indonesia which is not that far away. That much is known.

We won't know for sure if we don't want to know, too frightened to seek answers lest they turn out to not exactly be to everyone's liking. Science should not be subservient to politics.

Neanderthal is pronounced with out the 'h' because the word is German and th as in English does not exist in the German language.
The th is pronounced in high German but this would not be heard by a non German speaking person..

We have absolutely no idea of the faces of the Neanderthal as all pictures are the artists licence to interpret any way he likes, within skeletal limits.
The one thing we can be sure of is that they did not look like that
which we assume.
We do not know the colour of the eyes or the colour of their hair or skin. We do not know of the size of their noses or the shape.
I believe they had blond hair, blue eyes and a ski slope, delicate nose.
Their woman were more beautiful than today's most beautiful.

O.K. I believe.

I also belief that their diet was largely plant based and not flesh based, as is so often depicted.

As far as I know there has only been one skeleton that show the distinctive bone structure of the Neanderthal. if there are others would somebody please tell me where I can go view them, please not one or two, I need to see hundreds, minimum.

Now that scientists have discovered nearly all northern Europeans have much more than expected Neanderthal DNA, their depictions will start to show more traditional European facial features. They will begin to loose their stoop and appear less brutish.


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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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