Meet the Neanderthal People

Neanderthals were our closest human cousins and we shared a common ancestor - Homo heidelbergensis. We know more about Neanderthals than any other extinct human group, because some Neanderthals buried their dead, and so many more of their bones survive than are preserved for any other extinct human group. 

© Photo and reconstruction Atelier Daynes

Studies of their skeletons suggest that Neanderthal people tended to be shorter than most European people today and that they were stocky, with broad chests and wide hips. The thickness of their bones, and marks left on them where their muscles were attached, show that they led active lives requiring physical strength from a young age.  Their skulls are very distinctive, being long and low compared with modern human skulls, with pronounced brow ridges, no chin, and a mid-face region that juts out.

Neanderthal, Homo neanderthalensis

We know a lot about Neanderthal bones, but who were Neanderthal people?

Meet our Neanderthal.....


When he died, he was buried in a cave called La Chapelle-aux-Saints in France, over 47 thousand years ago. He was old for his time: but who was he? Who buried him, and how did they mourn his passing?

We have a lot of Neanderthal stone tools, and the bones of the animals they hunted, but what was it like to live a Neanderthal life? What did they wear? Where did they live? How did they think about their world and the places they travelled?

What was it really like, to be a Neanderthal?

Forensic reconstruction artist Elisabeth Daynes has brought our Neanderthal back to life: stand eye to eye with him, and ask yourself whether you could have survived, as he did, in Ice Age Europe.  

© Reconstruction: Elisabeth Daynès Paris.