La Ferrassie 1 Neanderthal skull

La Ferrassie 1 Neanderthal skull

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Credit: PHILIPPE PLAILLY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: La Ferrassie 1 Neanderthal skull (Homo neanderthalensis). This is a moulding of the 70,000 year old skull, which was discovered at La Ferrassie, France, in 1909. Neanderthals were relatives of humans that inhabited Europe and western Asia about 150,000 to 30,000 years ago. They were stockier than modern humans, with whom they co-existed, having prominent brow ridges, a heavier, more muscular frame and a barrel chest. They were therefore well adapted to hunting and to the cold. They did not use complex tools but had mastery of fire and built shelters. They lacked projectile weapons, though, and tended to use stabbing and hacking weaponry. It is not known why they became extinct, but many suspect they were outcompeted by modern humans.

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