Neanderthals lifestyle

The Culture of Neanderthals

Despite not behaving like the early modern humans who lived at the same time, evidence suggests that Neanderthals possessed a sophisticated society. It is up for discussion among academics to what extent Neanderthals exhibited symbolic behavior given the scarcity of artifacts and jewelry, especially in comparison to their modern human counterparts who were producing substantial quantities of jewelry, portable art, and cave paintings. According to some academics, instead of producing their own artifacts, they copied or exchanged them with contemporary people since they lacked the cognitive abilities necessary to produce art and symbols. Others, however, contend that socioeconomic and demographic variables could have contributed to the shortage.

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Early members of our own species, Homo sapiens, also utilized the Mode 3 technology, which the Neanderthals possessed, which is a quite sophisticated toolkit. Because of Le Moustier’s location, this was also referred to as the Mousterian. As their lengthy existence in Europe came to a conclusion, they started producing a more sophisticated toolkit—known as the Chatelperronian—that was comparable to human blade tools. This happened at the same period as modern humans arrived in Europe. A common belief among archaeologists is that Neanderthals tried to imitate the kinds of tools they saw modern people using. Alternatively, it’s possible that they traded these tools to contemporary people for them.

Hats, clothes, and fire

The ability to regulate fire for warmth, cooking, and protection allowed the Neanderthals to construct hearths. Animal skins were known to be worn by them, particularly in colder climates. Neanderthal clothing may have been wrapped around the torso and fastened, but there is no concrete proof that it was sewn together.

Although open-air shelters were sometimes built, caves were frequently utilized as hiding places.

Decoration and artwork

There is little documented symbolic art produced by Neanderthals, and there is little evidence of body ornamentation. A necklace from Arcy-sur-Cure in France, alongside other artifacts and bone tools that were assigned to a civilization known as Chatelperronian (which most experts believe Neanderthal), is one of the rare ornamental objects found at a Neanderthal site. However, redating of the site’s strata in 2010 indicates that there may have been contamination between levels and that, given that contemporary humans also occupied this site in later times, the artifact may have been created by them. The only other uncontested Chatelperronian site that has produced personal ornaments is this one, and even those may have come from commerce with modern humans (Homo sapiens) or from imitations of modern human artifacts.

Indirect evidence of symbolic painting was found in 2010 by experts at two places in Spain: the Anton rock shelter and the Aviones cave. The first had organically fractured scallop shells coated with orange paint, while the second contained a cockleshell that could have served as a paint container due to the presence of red and black paint residue. Since the Avione findings are from a time before modern humans arrived in Europe—between 45 and 50,000 years ago—they cannot have been replicated from them.


Even though there is no concrete proof of any ceremonial behavior, the deceased were frequently buried. Nevertheless, artifacts that could be burial goods have been found at certain locations.

Environment and nutrition

This species endured a period of fluctuating climate conditions and existed in a variety of habitats throughout Europe and the Middle East. Warmer eras were alternated with Ice Ages in Europe, but by 110,000 years ago, average temperatures were dropping, and by 40,000 years ago, complete glacial conditions had emerged.

Neanderthals are known to have hunted large animals, and a chemical examination of their bones indicates that they had a sizable diet of meat that was supplemented by vegetables. In spite of this varied food, a diet lacking in nutrients is seen in about half of the Neanderthal bones that have been investigated.

The question of whether Neanderthals consumed human flesh has long been up for dispute among researchers. Although it can be challenging to distinguish between cut marks on human bones caused by animal teeth, cannabilism, or some other activity, fresh research has shown in recent years that shows certain Neanderthals may have occasionally been cannibals.

More than 800 Neanderthal bones from the Krapina Cave site in Croatia exhibit hammerstone shards and cut marks. The bones with weak marrow are all intact, while the bones with rich marrow are absent. Some claim that the evidence is unclear since the bone incisions differ from the markings found on reindeer bones and the bone fragmentation may have been produced by cave-ins. They assert that secondary burial practices may be the source of the cut markings.

The butchering-related cut marks found on bones from Abri Moula in France are not indicative of a mere ritual defleshing. The markings likewise resembled those on roe deer bones discovered in the same shelter, which were thought to represent food.

Hundreds of Neanderthal bones with cut marks, intentional fractures for extracting bone marrow, and other indications that the individuals had been killed for meat in a manner similar to that of animals were found in the El Sidron cave in Spain.

How did the Neanderthals fare?

Neanderthals survived in incredibly hostile environments for hundreds of thousands of years. For ten millennia, they coexisted in Europe with Homo sapiens. They are extinct as of right now. Beyond these facts, there is substantial disagreement over what became of the Neanderthals.

Two primary hypotheses

Theory 1: They interbred comparatively widely with Homo sapiens sapiens. Advocates of this hypothesis contend that while Neanderthals as living beings are extinct, their DNA may have survived and be present in early modern Europeans. Neanderthal DNA was diluted by interbreeding since modern humans outnumbered Neanderthals by a large margin. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis is the scientific designation for Neanderthals since they were a subspecies of Homo sapiens rather than a distinct species.

Advocates of this idea present the following data as proof:

Certain populations of Cro-Magnon (Homo sapiens) have traits from Neanderthals. The robusticity and limb proportions, for example, are more Neanderthal in nature, according to the discoverers of the 24,000-year-old skeleton of a modern human kid from Lagar Velho in Portugal, despite the pelvis and face morphology being sapien-like. Given that the skeleton’s age is greater than that of the last extant Neanderthal, these characteristics have to indicate extensive genetic interbreeding and transmission between modern humans and Neanderthals. More so than in later Homo sapiens, cro-magnon fossils from Vogelherd in Germany and Mladec in the Czech Republic display an occipital bun protrusion at the rear of the skull that resembles that of Neanderthals.

Later Neanderthal groups had contemporary traits. It’s possible that the Vindija Neanderthals interbred with entering Homo sapiens since they appear more contemporary than other Neanderthals.

Modern Europeans share characteristics with Neanderthals. The mandibular foramen, or nerve canal in the lower jaw, is structured similarly to that of Neanderthals in some modern Europeans, and certain modern European groups have the characteristic retromolar gap.

Theory 2: Homo sapiens effectively took their place. Neanderthals and modern humans are two different species in this instance. Although some little interbreeding is permitted under this hypothesis, modern Europeans do not get a substantial genetic contribution from Neanderthals.

Advocates of this idea present the following data as proof:

Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA was initially isolated in 1997, and research have revealed that its range is beyond that of current human mitochondrial DNA. Since the mtDNA of Neanderthals is four times older than that of Homo sapiens, scientists believe that Neanderthals split off from the current human line about 500–600,000 years ago. The research also shows that present European mtDNA and that of Neanderthals are not related to each other.

The 2010 release of the draft Neanderthal genome, which consists of nuclear DNA and genes, indicates that the contemporary human and Neanderthal lineages split around 600,000 years ago. Neanderthal DNA makes up between 1% to 4% of the DNA of non-Africans, which suggests that there was some small-scale interbreeding. These findings refute the most basic form of “Out of Africa,” which holds that there was no interbreeding in its theory of modern human beginnings. However, they do lend credence to the theory that the great majority of non-African genes spread with modern people who started in Africa.

Young Neanderthals’ face growth patterns reveal that their development was different from that of modern humans. In contrast to the Lagar Velho boy’s findings, the disparities are thus mostly hereditary. The brow ridges, chins, foreheads, and facial protrusions are the distinguishing characteristics.

What caused them to go extinct?

There are several theories as to why modern people “replaced” Neanderthals. The majority of hypotheses today acknowledge that Neanderthals were not slow-moving barbarians incapable of defeating the far more modern Homo sapiens, but rather that they exhibited sophisticated behaviors and adaptive techniques. But, the new Homo sapiens were doing something sufficiently unique and marginally better to offer them an advantage in the given situation. It’s unclear exactly what was “a little bit more superior.” A number of recent studies that highlight the impact of climate change and the minute variations in behavior and biology under these circumstances are particularly intriguing.