What’s It Like Being a Neanderthal?
Most of Us Have Some Neanderthal DNA

In 2001, I read Bryan Sykes’ book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, which explained the out of Africa theory to the layperson. He was able to trace back the mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) to seven women who were the daughters of the mDNA Eve. It was scientifically accurate, and he used a biblical metaphor from Genesis. His book fascinated me and when Adam’sCurse came out a couple of years later, I read that one also.

Additionally, Sykes had a program for his readers to discover from which of the seven daughters you evolved. I sent a sample of my saliva to the University of Oxford and within a couple of weeks, I received my mDNA results. He didn’t mention anything about any Neanderthal mDNA, which was because they weren’t looking for it. My son, a couple of years ago, took a test, which indicated that he had 2.5% Neanderthal DNA.

Today, scientists have a fairly clear evolutionary explanation of humans.

A long view of the evolutionary history of humans

Now, that is an overview of how we evolved. However, the following chart explains the relationship between us and Neanderthals.

A shorter view of the evolutionary history of humans

It intrigues me that scientists can determine relative dates and interactions between both groups. The scientific community theorizes why humans survived, and Neanderthals became extinct. It was probably due to climate and/or possible conflict between the two groups. Humans did advance into the Neanderthal’s habitat around 45-40,000 years ago. Nevertheless, whether the climate or human conflict caused the Neanderthals to become extinct, they did intermingle with each other. It is obvious with the mDNA of humans and Neanderthals that there was, at some level, some intermingling. Since both groups came out of Africa, scientists compared African mDNA of Neanderthals with some mDNA of European and Asian Neanderthals. Those of Europe and Asian show human mDNA.

The transitioning of the Neanderthal to us

Beyond what is obvious, scientists have compared European humans and Asian humans and found Neanderthal mDNA 12-20% higher in humans than in Asia, which means that the two European groups intermixed far more often than the Asian groups.

That raises the issue about the sexual intermingling. Humans, Neanderthals, and other hominins like the Denisovans reproduced with each other. Therefore, many research scientists view Neanderthals as a subgroup of us.

It is also known that the Neanderthals weren’t dumb. There is evidence that they were using fire in Italy, ca. 171,000 years ago. However, Neanderthals also were interested in art.

The bison in the Cave at Altamira

This is an excellent video of the history of the relationship between Neanderthal and humans.

This is an excellent video of a short art history of the Neanderthals.