In August 1856, in the Neander Valley, in Germany, the skull and bones of a strange man were discovered.
These remains are very different from the bones of present-day man. A new species of man had just been discovered: Neanderthal!
Is it our ancestor?
No, Neanderthal is not Homo sapiens, like us.
His physique is different: his body is short and stocky, with thicker bones, and a low forehead with bushy eyebrows and no chin.
But Neanderthal and Homo sapiens lived at the same time. Over 40,000 years ago, Europe was divided between these 2 species.
A bit less than 10,000 years later, Neanderthal died out.
How? Why? Certain scientists think he was less of a fighter than his cousin, Homo sapiens.
And therefore Homo sapiens conquered Europe, leading to the extinction of Neanderthal.
He was however ahead of his time. He painted the walls of caves long before Homo Sapiens did and made sophisticated hunting tools.
Scientists have discovered that he cleaned his teeth with wooden sticks, healed himself with plants and respected the dead by burying them.
So, Neanderthal was neither a brute nor a savage, as some people thought 50 years ago.
He had a culture and traditions. He was just different from us, Homo sapiens…