These were the most successful European Humans (Hominids) that have ever lived. Tough, adaptable and superlatively well evolved for the many severe Ice Ages that they endured, Homo Neanderthalensis was our closest cousin, and yet so very different to us. Only the Neanderthals would regularly hunt the 5-7 tonne Mammoths that roamed across Europe in their time, and to be brutally honest, us Homo Sapiens were much less capable as hunters, whereas large game such as the Mammoths were concerned. Unlike the cartoon image of the Neanderthals, in reality, they were even smarter than us – their brains were 12% larger (though the crucial frontal lobes were proportionately smaller) Also, they were not massive, brutish people, but in truth rather short, yet very stocky creatures. Neanderthal Males, stood at best, only around 5 foot 5 inches – and most were a few inches less. As for the Females, they were even smaller, standing at around 5 foot 3 inches on average. However, this short size, worked to the Neanderthal’ advantage – the smaller you are, the less surface area you have, and in the Ice Ages, this would conserve valuable heat, and the energy from food that provides the energy itself. Neanderthals were true survivalists, first appearing in the fossil record around 300,000 years ago, ‘only’ dying out less than 28,000 years ago. Though other humans such as the much less intelligent and advanced, Homo Erectus, had somehow lasted between 1.5 million years and only 50,000 years ago, (hanging on in bamboo jungles of the Far East) the Neanderthals were the most impressive survivors by far. No other Human Species endured such terrible hardships as they had (though in Homo Sapiens early history, we suffered possibly even worse in the unforgiving 100 year droughts of the water drained Africa, during the Ice Ages, when we nearly died out before we ‘got going’, due to the water being locked up in the massive Ice caps) Scientists believe that Neanderthals developed an ingenious method of living in small successful groups, not putting any real pressure on the animal populations that they hunted, and kept this method going in every generation that ever lived. Small family units, of less than Eight members, lived within a territory of around 35 square miles. By comparison, Homo Sapiens have always lived in much, much larger groups; as our 20 million strong cities prove. Amazingly, despite living over an area that stretched from North England to Gibraltar, from the coast of Portugal, to Iraq, and from Italy to Russia, the total, world population of the Neanderthals (and this is at its peak) was less than 100,000. Even some of the smaller towns and cities in Britain today, have more than that total population. This riskily low population never affected the mighty hunters for the large majority of their existence; but when the Homo Sapiens emigrated from North Africa, and then Asia, the Neanderthals were thrown into an almost completely different world. Now, the Neanderthals had to compete with the newcomers, whom brought with them new weapons, such as advanced throwing spears ( the Neanderthals preferred to stab at close range, thus they never truly mastered javelin production) and new methods of hunting. This all must have been terrifying for them. Slowly, as isolated communities consisting of few members, died off, the population of the once successful Neanderthals, went into terminal decline. Some Palaeontologists think that, in some way the Homo Sapiens actively attacked Neanderthals, whenever they sighted them. Many others disagree, though the debate continues even now. The last of the Neanderthals, pushed far to the limits of existence, and to the boundaries of their old realms, finally disappeared, and save for recently discovered, though also now extinct Hominid, Homo Florensis (nicknamed, ‘The Hobbit Man’, because it lived on only one small island off the coast of Java, Indonesia, and stood less than 3 foot 8 inches tall, and had a brain the size of a chimpanzee) left Homo Sapiens, as the last surviving Human – an endangered family order.

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