Neanderthal Bones: Signs of Their Sex Lives

Lately, much news from the field of paleoarchaeology and anthropology has centered on Neanderthal bedfellows. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist In a cave tucked into the limestone hills of the Asturias region of Spain, there lie the remains of a group of 13 Neanderthals that date to between 50,600 and 47,300 years ago. The site is[…]

The Neanderthal Throat: Did They Speak?

At the very least, in order for spoken language to be a possibility, a species has to have the right anatomical equipment. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist The first two pages of Claire Cameron’s novel The Last Neanderthal contain a glossary—a handful of words used by the family of Neanderthals at the center of the story.[…]

The Neanderthal Brain: Clues About Cognition

Was there something about the Neanderthals’ cognitive capacity that didn’t measure up? By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist One of the most tantalizing topics about Neanderthals is their cognition: how it developed and whether it was much different from patterns of thought in Homo sapiens. We know from the archaeological record that much of Neanderthal hunting, foraging,[…]

Unraveling the Mystery of Human Bipedality

Paleoanthropologist Carol Ward explains how walking upright marked a milestone in hominin history. By Dr. Tom GarlinghouseArchaeologist/Anthropologist Bipedality, the ability to walk upright on two legs, is a hallmark of human evolution. Many primates can stand up and walk around for short periods of time, but only humans use this posture for their primary mode[…]

The Neanderthal Diet—From Teeth to Guts

Some populations of Neanderthals were definitely more carnivorous than others. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist One of the more tenacious misconceptions about Neanderthals is that they were exclusively meat eaters. Sure, in some of the colder regions of Europe plant food would have been very seasonally limited, so meat was almost certainly a large part of[…]

Neanderthal Legs and Feet—Suited to Sprinting

Even genetics support the idea that Neanderthals were better sprinters than runners. By Dr. Anna GoldfieldArchaeologist If you’re like me, you view long-distance running as a somewhat unrealistic aspiration and see those people who do it well as remarkable creatures. The truth, though, is that Homo sapiens are well-designed for loping along for long distances[…]

What Neanderthal Teeth Tell Us about the Prehistoric World

Astonishing new research shows that fossil teeth, like trees, contain detailed records of the environments in which they grew. Increasingvariation in the climate has been implicated as a possible factor in the evolution of our species (Homo sapiens) 300,000 years ago, as well as the more recent demise of our enigmatic evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals. But[…]

Quests for Fire: Neanderthals and Science Fiction

By 1914, paleoanthropology recognized five species of human ancestors, two sub-species, and the tangible evidence of humanity’s antiquity proved utterly captivating. The Quest Begins: Neanderthals Meet Science Fiction In 1856, workers at a limestone quarry in the Neander Valley of Germany turned over a curious set of skeletal remains to a local amateur naturalist, Johann[…]