12 Fascinating Things We Learned About Neanderthals That Make Us Say 'Really'?

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Vote up the facts about Neanderthals that you learned today.

Neanderthals lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, one of the many ancestors to modern humans. The species went extinct about 40,000 years ago, although it continues to live on in the DNA of humans beings around the world.

Neanderthals have long been thought of as base, unintelligent creatures who dragged their knuckles and wielded clubs. Reddit says otherwise, providing a lot of information to combat this negative view. The subreddit Today I Learned has offers some eye-opening facts about Neanderthals, many of which may surprise you. 

  • 1
    701 VOTES

    Their Voices Were Shrill And Grating

    From Redditor /u/sweetashoney95

    TIL Neanderthals’ tracheal anatomy suggests they had high-pitched, raspy voices, like Julia Child.

    Context: By looking at the trachea of Neanderthals, scientists have determined that, not only did they speak, but they did so using sounds that were comparable to those used by contemporary speakers. Neanderthals, equipped with bigger voice boxes, likely had vocal cords and a hyoid - the bone that supports one's tongue - that sit forward of where it sits in modern humans. The shape of a Neanderthal's vocal track, rib cage, skull, and nasal cavity increased the pitch and added power to their voice. 

    701 votes
  • 2
    596 VOTES

    Neanderthals May Have Traveled By Boat

    From Redditor /u/carlossantos98:

    TIL that evidence suggests Neanderthals used boats before modern humans.

    Context: Not generally associated with sea-faring, Neanderthals seemed to have used watercraft 100,000 years ago. In contrast, the earliest evidence of humans employing mariner technologies comes from roughly 50,000 years ago, as they ventured to Australia.  

    Researchers base their assertions on "mousterian" tools - stone impliments used by Neanderthals - found on three Mediterranean islands. It's possible Neanderthals could have swam to the islands, which range from five to 12 kilometers away, but that doesn't explain the presence of tools. Comparable stone tools found on Crete date to 130,000 years ago, perhaps placing Neanderthals on the water even earlier. 

    596 votes
  • 3
    528 VOTES

    Neandertals May Have Seen A Red Dwarf Star Pass Through Our Solar System

    From Redditor: /u/SubOrbital_Kerbal:

    TIL that 70,000 years ago, a Red Dwarf star passed very close (In astronomy terms) to our Solar System. So close in fact, that it passed through the Solar System's outer shell known as the Oort Cloud and nudged some Comets out of their orbits. It may've been visible to early Humans and Neanderthals.

    Context: When a red dwarf star, also called a Scholz's star, entered our solar system roughly 70,000 years ago, it interrupted the gravitational movement of comets and asteroids. Still detectable today, the disruption shifted the trajectories of some of the 340 objects in the solar system to a hyperbolic orbit. To Neanderthals, however, the Scholz's star would have simply looked like a small, red light in the sky. 

    528 votes
  • 4
    556 VOTES

    Neanderthal DNA May Predispose Modern Humans To Certain Allergies

    From Redditor /u/alexfedp26:

    TIL - Many people have Neanderthal genes in their DNA that predispose them to allergies, including pollen and animal hair.


    556 votes
  • Neanderthals Didn't Walk Hunched Over
    Photo: Marcellin Boule (1861-1942) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    756 VOTES

    Neanderthals Didn't Walk Hunched Over

    From Redditor /u/metkja:

    TIL The reason why we view neanderthals as hunched over and degenerate is that the first skeleton to be found was arthritic.

    Context: In 1908, French paleontologist Marcellin Boule reconstructed a complete Neanderthal skeleton, the first of its kind. Boule's efforts produced a hunched over figure with bent knees and a brutish appearance, leading him to conclude that all Neanderthals were "bestial." Research conducted in 2018 and 2019 indicated Neanderthals had much better posture than previously believed, affirming earlier speculation that the bones may have been those of an "arthritic 'old man'." 

    756 votes
  • Neanderthals Constructed Buildings Inside Caves
    Photo: Luc-Henri Fage/SSAC / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    546 VOTES

    Neanderthals Constructed Buildings Inside Caves

    From Redditor: /u/Breeze_in_the_Trees:

    TIL Neanderthals are responsible for the earliest known hominid-made structures, which are about 176,500 years old, consisting of 400 pieces of broken stalagmites arranged into 2 rings that are several metres across, deep inside a cave in France.

    Context: The remains of Neanderthals have, for the most part, been found in caves. Stalagmite formations in the Aveyron Valley of France, however, demonstrate, "a level of social organization that was more complex than previously thought."

    Two man-made chambers constructed out of roughly 400 broken stalagmites - columns or mounds formed on cave floors - were deliberately moved into ring formations. The stalagmites varied in size were were placed over 360 feet back into the cave. Natural light wasn't present, meaning Neanderthals used fire as a light source during the process. Researchers speculate as to what the structures were used for, suggesting, "this was a meeting place for some type of ritual social behavior." 

    546 votes