Chapter Summary

Focus of chapter:

  • Evolution, anatomy, and geographic distribution of Neandertals
  • Evolution, anatomy, and geographic distribution of archaic Homo sapiens
  • Spread of modern humans around the globe
  • DNA and fossil evidence with respect to explanatory models

The development of the anatomical and culture complexes associated with Neandertals has a long history within anthropology. Early interpretations held that the Neandertals were primitive and stupid, unable to hunt or compete with modern humans.

Anatomically, Neandertals are cold adapted, with skeletal structures associated with living in colder climates. They were accomplished tool users and hunted big game—meat played an important role in their diets.

Cultural and technological developments in humans were long thought to have occurred first in Europe. Recent evidence suggests that many of these cultural changes occurred first in Africa, with some of the first evidence for exploiting marine food resources seen as early as 75,000 yBP.