Who are the Neanderthals and what happened to them? Neanderthals were not the brutish characters that I long thought they were. They're just not quit as refined as we are today. Although we have some very similar characteristics, we differ in many ways to. The first thing one might notice is that the Neanderthals were much stockier and robust than we are today. This meant that they were probably exceedingly strong. With the added muscle mass one also had to have a large and strong skeleton to support their weight.
Other characteristics of the Neanderthals include pronounced brow ridges that much higher than most of ours. Neanderthal's skull is also of a different shape. Although they possessed large brains of up to 1400cc. This shows in their slopping forehead and tapered rear of the skull. This tapered rear bun allowed for strong neck muscles to be attached. They also had considerably large teeth, of which their function was not just chewing, this was shown by how fast they were worn down.
Their noses were large probably to condition the air of less than perfect home ranges. Neanderthals were known to live in some very cold climates, where the air must have been very cold and dusty.
Research shows that Neanderthal infants matured at a faster rate than we do today. Their teeth and brains developed quicker for sure. I think this was do to the fact that a child did not have as much time to develop. If one developed faster it would be less of a burden on a nomadic group that had to move around to gather resources. And a mother could get back to spending more unencumbered time in the pursuit of survival.
Neanderthals, I think were quit successful. Populations were found allover Western Europe. Which shows that they were very adaptable to their surroundings. One of the most amazing things that I learned is that there is evidence of successful surgeries. And not just little ones, unless you think of amputation as little. One of the other things I found interesting is that they had tailored clothes. That's something I thought didn't come around for a long time.
Neanderthals lived in the middle Paleolithic period. They were known to be around from about 40,000 to 125,000 years ago. Excavations have shown that the made Mousterian tools. This means that they were making tools of stone flakes rather than the cores.
Neanderthals used these tools to hunt large game. Large game was important for the use as food and probably in the making of stone tools. If one is to hunt large game with stone tools, then one must also have coordination within the hunting group. One person could not dispatch some of the game that they were hunting. Evidence shows that they even were able to trap and even stampede large game animals. In my opinion and many others, these types of coordinated hunts would certainly require language use.
Probably not as complex of one that we have today, but at least enough to transfer basic information.
As for what happened to the neanderthals, it is still debated today. There is the theory that they were killed off either by other early Homo, or that they were outperformed. If they no longer had a nitch to fill could not survive. The most respected theory is that the neanderthals simply bred in with other early Homo and that their traits are still here today.