There is a lot that we know about the first people on Earth. Most commonly referred to as neanderthals, these early humans lived on our planet up until roughly 40,000 years ago. They went extinct for a variety of reasons. Researchers have been fascinated by the origins of the human race for centuries.
Although there is plenty of information out there about Neanderthals and prehistoric people, many believe in the numerous stereotypes out there about the earliest humans. Movies like Encino Man and Year One would have you believe that all cavemen were dumb brutes who spoke in guttural grunts and used simple tools. In reality, the earliest humans were intelligent, cultured, and responsible for many advancements. To learn more about the neanderthals and prehistoric peoples as well as debunk several myths about them, keep reading!
Neanderthals lived on the continent once known as Eurasia more than 40,000 years ago. This now-extinct species of archaic humans went extinct because of disease, climate change, and competition, and extermination from other immigrating humans. Although many people believe that we descended directly from humans, that is not the case.
Neanderthal DNA split from humans between 182,000 and 800,000 years ago. The oldest known Neanderthal bones that have been discovered are estimated to be roughly 430,000 years old. The earliest humans were built quite differently than modern humans. They had shorter limbs, a stockier build, a more massive chest as well as a more prominent nose. Experts believe the Neanderthals were built this way so they would have an easier time staying warm during the freezing winter temperatures.