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Are You THAT Different From Neanderthals? Scientists Finally Decided.

Are we homo sapiens that different from Neanderthals? Let’s find out the truth together! 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet a Neanderthal? The only thing you will notice that might stand out as a difference is that they were a tad shorter and thicker than you.

But while you could win a basketball game with them as opponents, I fear they will defeat you in a Skanderbeg. However, this won’t happen because they went extinct around 40,000 years ago.

For a long time, everybody thought we were alike, but scientists proved us wrong, so in today’s article, we’re going to follow their steps to find out more interesting stuff about Neanderthals. Let’s start!

different from Neanderthals
Photo by OrdinaryJoe from Shutterstock

1. Our height is different from the Neanderthals

One of the first things we notice when we get into the studies about our ancestors is that our height is different from Neanderthals. In our world, the average height of humans is mostly based on various factors such as genetics, race, and living conditions. But on the other hand, no matter how small you believe you are, we are still way taller than Neanderthals.

While we are 5 feet 9 and 5 feet 4, our ancestors were around 5 feet. This might be because they also had shorter arms and legs compared to us, homo sapiens, who are way longer.

2. A larger brain, but perhaps not that evolved and capable

Another thing that is different from Neanderthals is the size of our brains. While we may frequently joke about other people’s brain sizes and associate them with lesser intelligence, having a larger brain doesn’t automatically mean you’re the brightest in the room. That’s why scientists who were ready to debunk this myth discovered that while Neanderthals had bigger brains than us, they didn’t have the same development as we do.

The neocortex, an area linked to higher cognitive functions, has fewer neurons in the Neanderthal form of a gene called TKTL1, according to studies. In another study, it was shown that Neanderthals had worse-functioning progenitor cells for these neurons.

3. Neanderthal skulls were elongated

Are we really that different from Neanderthals? While we may be hesitant to make definitive statements, it’s worth exploring some of the findings from scientific research. According to various sources, the most “in your face” difference between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals is the facial features. We have a more round-shaped face, while they had elongated skulls. This long-shaped skull was suitable for their larger brains.

In addition to these features, we must point out that Neanderthals also had a prominent brow ridge above the eyes. Even their nose was bigger than ours! But this feature actually helped them survive and maintain healthy breath during the cold season. Additionally, compared to modern humans, Neanderthals had a less prominent chin and a more sloping forehead.

4. Our teeth are different from Neanderthals

Mainly because of the living conditions and because they had to adapt to a different and harsher life compared to ours, their dental features developed before birth. For this, scientists have another explanation: Neanderthals grew more quickly than modern humans.

The other difference between us and them is the larger roots of the teeth; the front ones were significantly bigger, and there was a big gap behind the third molar. Why do they have more prominent front teeth? They held things that they later chopped with tools while using their teeth as a third hand.

Would you like to learn more about Neanderthals? We certainly got your back! Here at Science in the World, we love to give our readers suggestions with interesting books they might enjoy reading. That’s why we’ve put The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science Is Rewriting Their Story (The Rediscovered Series) on the list of must-read books.

Plus it’s available on Amazon for the amazing price of only $16.95! Hurry up, because we don’t know for how long it will be until it’s going to be sold out. 

5. They had stronger and thicker bones

Another feature that is different from Neanderthals is that they were much stronger than us, and their bones were significantly thicker. Their body shape was also more robust (including women’s bodies), and that was because of the severe lifestyle. Neanderthals had to be good runners too, because you never knew when or what animal was going to attack you. What a time to be alive!

Furthermore, compared to us, they also had asymmetrical humerus bones, thicker necks for better support of their elongated skulls, and bulky torsos. It’s also interesting to point out that today’s people have a narrow pelvis and a normal-shaped chest. On the other hand, Neanderthals had a larger pelvis and a chest that resembled a barrel. Their longer, straighter ribs and barrel-shaped chest may have contributed to their larger lung capacity.

These features were capable of defending them from a cold and hostile way of life.

6. Did Neanderthals have thoughts like ours?

While thousands of studies have been made on this matter, scientists still don’t have an answer to this question. They were able to invent stuff, start art as we know it on the cave walls, invent music, and the ritual of burial, yet we don’t know for sure what language they spoke or if they were able to have thoughts as we do. Not even details about how their social life was.

It’s known that they lived in small communities, isolated, and probably without any social organization, yet they managed to survive for so long. Was this the main reason for their decline? Who knows!

Do you like documentaries? If so, we have a great suggestion for you to watch if you have an Amazon Prime subscription! Neanderthal Season 1 emphasizes fragments of how their lives were reconstructed step by step. 

different from Neanderthals
Photo by Esteban De Armas from Shutterstock

7. We are not from the same species

Are we really that different from Neanderthals? While there are a lot of similarities between us and them, we also must pinpoint the Neanderthals’ main distinctions from contemporary humans aside from physical characteristics. Our only source of information is their genetic material, which was entirely sequenced in 2010. As humans share 99.7% of the same genetic makeup as the early hominins, this indicates that they were largely human.

However, there is a population of individuals with solely African ancestry who lack this particular DNA. This is because they never intermingled with Neanderthals and therefore were not able to mix genetic material.


That’s it! Now, what do you think? We hope this article clears up the chaos a little bit, and from now on, when you hear the word, Neanderthal,” you will no longer associate it with the bad side of it, because they were in fact a lot like us, and we have to be proud of our early ancestors because for their time they were great inventors and they also developed an amazing stone technology called Levallois technique.

Are we that different from Neanderthals? Tell us in the comments section. We are eager to find out your opinion about this matter. And if you enjoyed reading about what and if we are different from Neanderthals, we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter! We promise we won’t disappoint you.

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