Our closest extinct relative, disappeared 40,000 years ago

Neanderthal man had larger cranial capacity than modern man!

The Neanderthals were a remarkable species of human, known for their robust physique, impressive tool-making abilities, and cultural practices such as burial rituals and artistic expression. They were well adapted to living in cold environments.

Despite their many strengths, they eventually went extinct around 40,000 years ago. The exact cause of their demise remains a mystery, but scientists have proposed several theories, including climate change, competition with modern humans, interbreeding, and disease.

Each of these factors may have played a role in the gradual decline of the Neanderthals, ultimately leading to their extinction. Some modern humans (if they live outside of Africa) have remnants of Neanderthal DNA in their genetic material, up to 4% of their DNA.


Population est.
Official estimate
Extinct 40,000 years ago
Official estimate
Extinct 40,000 years ago
Official estimate
Extinct 40,000 years ago

Did you know?

  • Neanderthals had unique physical adaptations to their environment, such as a stocky build, wide nose, and prominent brow ridge. These features were not present in any other human species.
  • Recent research suggests that Neanderthals had complex social structures and may have cared for the sick and elderly members of their community.
  • Neanderthals were skilled hunters who used spears and javelins to take down large prey like mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses.
  • DNA studies have shown that modern humans outside of Africa have Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, indicating that the two species interbred.
  • Neanderthals had a larger brain than modern humans and may have had a higher level of intelligence, although this is still a topic of debate among scientists.
  • Neanderthals made intricate tools and even created artwork, such as carvings and engravings on bone and stone. 
  • They are known to have created cave art dating back to over 60,000 years ago. Their sophisticated artwork and use of colors suggest that Neanderthals were capable of complex abstract thought and creative expression.
  • The last known Neanderthal populations died out around 40,000 years ago, possibly due to a combination of factors, including climate change, competition with modern humans, and other environmental pressures.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No