Anthro Essay Research Paper NeanderthalsNeanderthals inhabited Europe

Anthro Essay, Research Paper Neanderthals Neanderthals inhabited Europe and the Near East until about 30,000 years ago. They disappeared after their successor, Cro-Magnon man, who was anatomically modern man migrated to Europe. Many theories have been put forth to explain what happened to the Neanderthals.

Anthro Essay, Research Paper


Neanderthals inhabited Europe and the Near East until about 30,000 years ago. They disappeared after their successor, Cro-Magnon man, who was anatomically modern man migrated to Europe. Many theories have been put forth to explain what happened to the Neanderthals. One of these theories suggest that Neanderthals were a separate species apart from Cro-Magnon man and their birth rate was slower than that of Homo Sapiens; they were out competed and simply replaced within generations, by the more flexible and technologically more advanced Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens had a more complex and specialized tools made out of bone, ivory, and antler. With these innovations, Cro-Magnon did not have to work as hard as Neanderthals did in order to survive.

With a much more sophisticated technology, Neanderthals would have had to compete with modern humans for their meats. This led to starvation and a decrease in the overall Neanderthal population, which could have been the cause of extinction. In contrast with Cro-Magnon man who lived into their fifties, Neanderthals had a much shorter life span, barely surviving until the age of forty.

Another theory states that Neanderthals were not in fact a separate species, but interbred with Homo sapiens whose genes eventually became dominant at the eventual expense of the genes delivering into Neanderthal characteristics. This theory came from the fact that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals inhabited the same regions of Europe for thousands for years.

The fate of the Neanderthals is never-ending until archaeologist finds evidence of their fate. However, they did have human characteristics. Neanderthals were compassionate enough to bury their dead, care for their injured and ill, develop complex tools, create some form of ritual behavior, and communicate in some ways. It is this aspect of humanity that was improved and carried on by their successors, Cro-Magnon man, who later dominated the world


Neanderthal bone structure and morphology was somewhat different from that of modern man?s. There are two different varieties of Neanderthals, ?classical? and ?progressive?. The type that is discussed in this report is primarily classical. Classical Neanderthals were better adapted for harsh, cold climates. Their bodies were short and squat, which primarily helped in keeping them warm in nasty, below freezing Ice Age weather. It has been speculated that their noses and large nasal cavities were also an adaptation to the cold climates that they lived in. With larger nasal passages, cold air could be quickly warmed while breathing. Neanderthals also had different shaped skulls than our own. They have a low, sloping foreheads, whereas ours are much higher. Their brains were longer and lower, and rested behind as well as above the face.

These hominids? morphology was that their bones were much larger and thicker than modern humans. Their leg, foot, and hand bones were especially sturdy. They didn?t have to work for it because they were born this way naturally. Neanderthals led strenuous lives and for that reason they needed a strong bone structure. Their heavy build is the result of their strenuous lifestyle. They hunted very close and were getting constantly injured I their struggle to survive. These hominids did much foraging across various terrains, not really planning where and when they?re going. Neanderthals? bones structure is almost forty percent more than that of modern human. Other features is the projecting midfacial features of Neanderthals which were an anchor for their heavy jaw muscles and was used for gripping objects.

Progressive Neanderthals on the other hand, do not have as many strong features as the classics. They have less pronounced browridges, less midfacial projection and they were more tall and gracile than the classics. Their bone structure was also not as robust as their counterparts. Some anthropologist believed that the ?progressive? Neanderthals could have possibly represented hybrids of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

Tools and Weapons

Neanderthals made elaborate stone tools, which were a crucial part of their survival. They served as instruments for hunting, stripping flesh from animals, processing materials, and creating fire. The tool technology more commonly associated with the Neanderthals is called Mousterian and lasts from 150,000 years ago until around 27,000 years ago.

Mousterian tool kits consisted of items such as hand axes, choppers, scrapers, backed knives, denticulates, and points. Choppers were used for smashing bones open to obtain marrow, hacking wood, softening meat, and a primitive hammer. Scrapers were deployed for dressing hides and possibly obtaining meat from bones. Backed knives were made for the ability to easily cut flesh. Denticulates might have been used to carve and shape wood. This would include creating sharp points on Mousterian spears for hunting. Points, on the other hand, were hafted on to the spears. This instrument was used for attack and defense and was more than likely thrusted instead of thrown.

These tools and weapons were created with the Levallois Technique, in which a carefully prepared stone core was made by removing chips from the top and sides. Whole flakes were then struck from the core to be refinished into a variety of specialized tools. In striking these flakes from cores, Neanderthals had to have a certain cognitive ability and mental picture of what form they wanted to shape the flake in . They had to know at which angle to make a fine impact, and how hard to hit it, in order to produce the tool they needed. Neanderthals had the intellect to have understood the aspect of symmetry. They also made innovations in their tool technology by being the first hominids to haft stone and flint points on the edges of wooden spears, creating effective hunting weapons. Other inventive ideas included setting the tip of a wooden spear on fire to make a sharp point, which was also used for hunting.

Another tool technology that Neanderthals used is the Chatelperronian technique. This technology started from about 32,000 years ago and ended at around 30,000 years ago. The main characteristic of this technology is that the typical Chatelperronian knife has a curved back, this is similar to the Mousterian backed knife.

A final tool implements that Neanderthals used were their front teeth. Paleoanthropologist and physical anthropologist said that these ancestors used their jaw and teeth as a gripping vice to make tools and hold objects other than food items in their mouths, using their front teeth as anchors. In many skulls, such as Shanidar I, the front teeth are literally worn down to the root. Extensive studies done on the wear patterns of Neanderthal teeth revealed that both animal and vegetable material had been pulled out across their clinched teeth. Not only Neanderthals cut materials while holding them in their mouths, but they also used their teeth as an anchor to procure hides with side scrapers. This excessive wear in Neanderthal teeth has lead to thought that hides were processed while being clinched in their mouth?s, by rubbing a scraper back and forth, and up and down.

Hunting, Diet, Life

Neanderthals were hunters and gatherers who lived during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. Their life was rough and rigorous. It was so harsh that their average life span was from forty to forty-five years of age. One aspect of these hominids? hunting is sustenance. Neanderthals participated in close range kills, meaning that they were in less than a foot?s proximity of their prey when they attacked it. They hunted with wooden spears, hafted with stone tips, and thrusted them into animals a few inches away. In order to do this, Neanderthals must have had outstanding stamina. It was due to close combat with large animal that they got several injuries that left permanent marks of pain on their bones. Forty years old was an elderly age for a Neanderthal. Their forty years would be the equivalent of our sixty or eighty years.

Another hunting technique used by these ancestors was to drive a large herd of animals over a cliff, or elevated surface, while their friends awaited at the bottom to slaughter the animal or animals. The carcasses would be carved up and carried back to their living camps for the rest of the clan. Archaeologists found piled up bones of horses, bovids, and reindeer in France.

This technique was called ?cliff drive?, which was a cooperative and planned out technique used by the Neanderthals. Planning was only used for ?cliff drive? but it appeared that they were spontaneously setting out to hunt and forage, relying only on ?running into food?. Neanderthals lacked the ability to anticipate future events and future availability of food such as shortage. They also can?t predict patterns in a dynamic and changing landscape.

Neanderthal?s diet considered by anthropologist is that of a fox and wolf. This is said because wolf eat almost entirely meat but the fox gets some of its protein from occasional meals of fruits, grains, and even tree leaves?. Their dietary behavior is apparently remained all year in the same area, and was not seasonal follower, like their successors. They were more of a carnivore than that of a herbivore. Staying in one area for lengthy amounts of time posed many threats for the Neanderthals. The most dangerous being depleting their food supply, which meant that each meal became more difficult to obtain. This would then lead to starvation and malnourishment.

Neanderthals were one of the first human groups to have the ability to decide how they ate. They did this by controlling the use of fire and, more than likely, cooked their food. They also used fire to produce warmth to survive freezing Ice Age temperature. They knew how to construct cooking hearths but they did not know how to make more heat from a fireplace by lining it with stones or digging ventilation channels. Neanderthals probably huddled close to fires to stay warm during cold nights.


Very little is known about the social structure and interaction of Neanderthals among one another. They lived in groups of 30-50 individuals and invented many of the tool types that were to be perfected by the later Homo sapiens which they used for weapons against cave lions and cave bears. It was also used for body paint, bury their dead, and flints. Neanderthals rarely lived more than forty years and usually dies after the female?s reproductive cycle. Females tend

to die before the age of thirty, due to hazards of childbirth. Childrens and juveniles made up most of the clans and few children knew their grandparents or other relatives because of the brief contact between one generation and the next. Because of little interations with relatives, the Neanderthal children are better off surviving on their own. With a short life-span, adolescent Neanderthals are forced to mature, marry, and reproduce early.


The Neanderthal Enigma, by James Shreeve, William Morrow and Company, Inc., Printed in the USA, copyright 1995 University of Chicago Press

The World Book Encyclopedia, ?Prehistoric People?. pgs. 750-784, volume 19 P, World Book Inc., Scott Fetzer Company, copyright 1996, USA

Solving the Mystery of Modern Human Origins, by Nick A. Graft, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, copyright 1995, USA

The Fate of Neanderthals and How They Extinct, by Joseph Stewart, Meridian and Company,

copyright 1992, University of Georgia at Savannah, Printed in the USA