Neanderthals: Early Humans of Eurasia

Neanderthals: Early Humans of Eurasia

Neanderthals, early humans that are usually seen as primitive carnivores, are said to have spoken in grunts, thunks, and whumps. That statement is false. Actually, they could draw, communicate, and even use tools. These early versions of humans understood how to make colors using minerals, too. 


Neanderthals are believed to have consumed fish, mussels, and seals when they lived in Portugal. In Belgium, Neanderthals ate mostly meat, such as wooly rhino and wild sheep; in Spain, they ate plants and even some tree bark.  

Neanderthals populated a lot of very diverse places. They mostly lived in the landmass that included the continents Europe and Asia (also known as Eurasia), the largest continental area on Earth, from about as north as Belgium to as south as southeast Asia, according to The Museum of Natural History. They usually lived in places that encouraged them to follow a more meat-based diet, unlike the early humans in tropical Africa, who had easier access to edible plants.


Neanderthals most likely used natural pigments and minerals to make their illustrations. Things like ochre, or colored clay, umber, a natural earth pigment, charcoal, ground calcite, a mineral that can be found in limestone, and burnt bone. Neanderthals most likely painted to tell stories or leave directions. 


Neanderthals were extremely inventive with the materials they had in their time. Some examples include stone, wood, sticks, slate, and bones. They utilized these rocks to mash berries, meat, and to create fire. Neanderthals also carved these materials to make arrowheads, which they attached to sticks using tar. They used sticks to fuel the fires they used to cook mea, and used sharper stones to cut the meat or plants they ate. According to the American Museum of Natural History, Neanderthals made spear points with a stone or soft hammer. Traces of adhesive on some stone points suggest they were once attached to wooden shafts, perhaps glued with resin or tar and bound with plant fibers, sinew, or leather.”


Since they were humans’ first evolutions, Neanderthals had roughly the same life span as modern humans. Bodies of 20-40-year-olds have been found, and by studying the bodies older than 40, experts can estimate that we have about the same life span that they did.


Some myths are incorrect about Neanderthals, such as the concept that their tools were not as advanced as modern humans. However, Neanderthals may have taught humans tool-making methods. Also contrary to popular belief, Neanderthals weren’t direct ancestors of Homo sapiens (humans). According to Joanna Gillan on Ancient Origins, Neanderthals and modern humans co-existed as two separate groups, but Neanderthals were our closest ancient relatives. As mentioned before, Neanderthals weren’t carnivores who ate only raw meat, they could harvest plants, berries, and cook meat on fires for a more pleasing taste. The myth that Neanderthals were bad parents is also inaccurate, as they cared for unhealthy children for years, and children played a big role in bonding in Neanderthal’s social groups. Although Neanderthals were mostly nomadic, they did have homes, as another rumor deters. They made rock shelters and wood huts, which were kept clean and organized.


These early humans discovered many ways to do what we do today. Neanderthals were very advanced for their time, as well. Troglodytes were very caring and are often misunderstood.