Segments in this Video

Rebranding Neanderthals (02:28)


New genetic and archaeological evidence reveals humans and their Ice Age rivals interbred.

Decoding Neanderthals: Sponsor Message (00:32)

Decoding Neanderthals: Sponsor Message

Neanderthal Lifestyle (01:53)

Learn how the early European hunter gatherer species survived Ice Age conditions for 300,000 years.

Human Migration (00:57)

Homo sapiens arrived in Europe 40,000 years ago, competing with Neanderthals, who disappeared 10,000 years later.

Neanderthal Competition Theory (02:42)

Scientists believed humans killed off the rival species. Learn how early archaeological evidence resulted in a popular image of Neanderthals having low intelligence.

Neanderthal Technology (03:34)

Archaeologist Metin Eren explains how Levallois flint flakes were engineered for specific purposes—indicating intelligence and high skill levels.

Neanderthal Spearheads (02:27)

Archaeologist Wil Roebroeks explains how Neanderthals heated birch bark to glue flint to wooden handles—predating human synthetic materials.

Dry Distillation (02:28)

Roebroeks replicates a Neanderthal pitch extraction technique used for gluing spearheads—a complex thermal process indicating intelligence.

Neanderthal Language Research (03:30)

Neanderthal technology found across Europe suggests that communication existed. Geneticists Svante Pavo and Ed Green isolate FOXP2, a human speech gene.

Mapping the Neanderthal Genome (05:22)

Learn how geneticists prepared 30,000 year old bone fragments, separated bacteria from host cells, and sequenced DNA during a four year project.

Neanderthal Communication Evidence (01:45)

Neanderthals share the FOXP2 speech gene with humans; experts believe they had developed a language.

Neanderthal and Human Genetic Links (04:30)

Geneticists mapped the genomes of people from five ethnic groups. Europeans and Asians have more matching DNA than Africans—indicating interbreeding and fertile offspring.

Neanderthal Symbolism (04:37)

Pigmented bones and seashells suggest the species used body ornamentation to distinguish friend from foe—a trait previously attributed solely to humans.

Neanderthal Burials (05:11)

Neanderthal and panther skeletons discovered in a cave in Spain suggest they were placed there in rituals, a controversial theory among archaeologists.

Neanderthal Extinction Mystery (06:43)

John Hawks found genetic evidence of human and Neanderthal interbreeding in Southern Europe—suggesting they were absorbed into the human population, rather than killed off.

Neanderthal Genetic Inheritance (03:41)

Geneticists have found Neanderthal DNA in our immune system. Experts discuss the possibility of natural selection during interbreeding with humans.

Credits: Decoding Neanderthals (01:15)

Credits: Decoding Neanderthals

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Decoding Neanderthals

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Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans left their African homeland and entered Europe, where Neanderthals had been living for hundreds of thousands of years. In 2010, a team led by geneticist Svante Paabo reconstructed much of the Neanderthal genome, discovering that they had interbred with humans, leaving a small but consistent signature of Neanderthal genes behind in everyone outside Africa today. In this program, NOVA explores a range of new evidence for Neanderthal self-expression and language, suggesting we may have underestimated our mysterious, long-vanished human cousins. (54 minutes)

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL58695

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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