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What did Neanderthals look like?

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Quick Answer

Neanderthals in most ways resembled modern humans, but they lacked complete upright posture and had a shorter stature, a stockier build and greater strength. The cranium and face had significantly more robust features. The stockier build of the Neanderthal can be seen in its wider shoulders, highly muscular upper body and strong legs. Additionally, evidence suggests that Neanderthals likely had a much shorter period of development from childhood to puberty than modern humans.

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Full Answer

While popular culture frequently depicts Neanderthals as rough, hairy and dark-skinned, in reality they likely appeared far more similar to modern humans.

Neanderthals are very close relatives of humans, with research indicating the DNA differs by just 0.12 percent. A minority of biologists argue that Neanderthals are so closely related to modern humans that they should be considered a subspecies, rather than classified as their own related but separate species. Some studies have suggested that Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans interbred, with Neanderthals contributing to modern human DNA.

Anthropologists have studied the Neanderthal since its discovery in 1829. So far, anthropologists have discovered bone samples from more than 400 Neanderthals for study.

Much like ancient humans, Neanderthals made advanced tools, had complex social groupings and, due to their cranial size, likely had some degree of language ability.

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