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Decoding Neanderthals

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 24th, 2013

Shared DNA reveals a deep connection with our long-vanished human cousins. Airing May 15, 2013 at 9 pm on PBS

Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundred of thousands of years. So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war? That question has tantalized generations of scholars and seized the popular imagination. Then, in 2010, a team led by geneticist Svante Paabo announced stunning news. Not only had they reconstructed much of the Neanderthal genome—an extraordinary technical feat that would have seemed impossible only a decade ago—but their analysis showed that “we” modern humans had interbred with Neanderthals, leaving a small but consistent signature of Neanderthal genes behind in everyone outside Africa today. In “Decoding Neanderthals,” NOVA explores the implications of this exciting discovery. In the traditional view, Neanderthals differed from “us” in behavior and capabilities as well as anatomy. But were they really mentally inferior, as inexpressive and clumsy as the cartoon caveman they inspired? NOVA explores a range of intriguing new evidence for Neanderthal self-expression and language, all pointing to the fact that we may have seriously underestimated our mysterious, long-vanished human cousins.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Watch Decoding Neanderthals on PBS. See more from NOVA.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster.


2 Responses to “Decoding Neanderthals”

  1. faron27 responds:

    well this is old news and as far as all modern man coming out of Africa is a joke…
    humans of different races have completely different skull structures indicating different species of human.

    simply fact is anything on PBS is BIAS in nature…only 1 point of view, don’t get me wrong I was a Sesame street kid and loved PBS before it became an outlet for political views.

    Modern humans and Neanderthal overlapped and crossbred (Big-foot is a hybrid of modern human + Neanderthal able to reproduce unlike the Liger and other sterile hybrids)

    anyway thats my theory on this subject

  2. Wee Falorie Man responds:

    So, we’re part modern human and part Neanderthal (except for sub-Saharan Africans). That means that we are now able to see ourselves more accurately, i.e., as a combination of both kinds of people, not exclusively “modern”. I think it’s a good thing :)



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