Did they interbreed with Cro-Magnons in order to create modern humans? This is a hotly debated topic in science right now, and popular author Graham Hancock has written a novel about it (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), which FOR ONE WEEK ONLY you can download for less than a dollar.
Since many of us may carry Neanderthal genes, it may be comforting to know what it was like to be one of these ice-age Europeans who flourished between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago, and then mysteriously disappeared.
The biggest difference between Cro-Magnons (that’s us) and Neanderthals is innovation. Although Neanderthals invented the craft of turning stone points onto spears, this was one of their very few innovations over several hundred thousand years.
Neanderthals, who lived in Europe between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago and then disappeared (or interbred with modern man) were not the dumb brutes that we think of when we use the term as an unflattering description of someone. Actually, it should be a compliment: They were sensitive creatures who buried their dead in elaborate (for that time) ceremonies.
Many of us may be part Neanderthal: When scientists reconstructed the Neanderthal genome in 2010, they found that that between 1 and 4% of the genome of non-African humans is derived from Neanderthals.
It may have been the WEATHER that did them in. Researcher Julien Riel-Salvatore says, "It’s been long believed that Neanderthals were outcompeted by fitter modern humans and they could not adapt. We are changing the main narrative. Neanderthals were just as adaptable and in many ways, simply victims of their own success."
Researcher Michael Barton agrees and says, "Neanderthals could have disappeared NOT because they were somehow less fit than all other hominins who existed during the last glaciation, but because they were as behaviorally sophisticated as modern humans."