Weird History
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Everything We've Been Able To Figure Out About The Sex Lives Of Neanderthals

Updated August 21, 2019 221.3k views8 items

Neanderthals remain one of the great mysteries of human evolution. They are the human's closest relatives, but their habits elude us. We are learning more about our hominid cousins every day, but there is still so much we do not know, including the mystery of Neanderthal mating habits, as there is not a lot of evidence to describe what Neanderthal sex would have been like. Thankfully there are new advances in genetic paleontology shining a light on this elusive subject, and the discoveries surrounding ancient human mating rituals continue to develop. 

Prehistoric intercourse was complicated, especially when navigating a mating scene that spanned multiple different hominid species. Scientists have uncovered proof that humans and Neanderthals likely mated with each other, and we're still feeling the effects of that crossbreeding today.

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  • Neanderthal Genitals Were The Same Size As Our Own

    Neanderthal Genitals Were The Same Size As Our Own
    Photo: State Museum of Prehistory Halle / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    Neanderthal males were found to have members similar in size to our own. Unlike many other primates, who have proportionally small male genitalia, humans have relatively large members. By comparing our DNA, scientists have determined that Neanderthal penises were likely indistinguishable from our own. This makes sense given the amount of inbreeding between the two species and further confirms that our genitalia was compatible with theirs.

  • The Neanderthals May Have Sexed Themselves To Extinction

    The Neanderthals are gone, and paleontologists have spent decades trying to figure out what happened. Some theories put the blame on climate change, while others blame human invaders for wiping out our closest relatives. There is another hypothesis floating around: it's possible the Neanderthals never actually died out but in fact just blended with us. They may have sexed themselves out of existence by mating with another species.

  • It's Likely Interspecies Intercourse Wasn't Always Consensual

    It is highly likely sexual relations between humans and Neanderthals was not consensual, and interspecies rape was just another part of prehistoric life. Communication between the species would have been difficult, meaning it's unlikely the two hominids hooked up by choice. If this was the case, then it could be evidence that humans and Neanderthals had a violent relationship — one that would end with humans as the sole survivors.

  • Despite Our Best Efforts, We Still Don't Know Much About Neanderthal Intercourse

    Despite Our Best Efforts, We Still Don't Know Much About Neanderthal Intercourse
    Photo: Tim Evanson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Despite plenty of genetic evidence revealing many of the mysteries left behind by the disappearance of Neanderthals, we still don't know much about their actual personal lives. We do know they mingled with humans, but we're not sure under what conditions or exactly how often that happened. We don't know what the actual act might have looked like, although we can assume it would be fairly similar to modern human intercourse. Maybe with time we will learn more about the lives of Neanderthals.