There is a little Neanderthal in all of us. Although they have been extinct for 40,000 years, our genetic inheritance means that they are not entirely gone. Since the publication of the first Neanderthal genome in 2010, our understanding of the Neanderthals – and our connection to them – has changed dramatically. Once stereotyped as simple and brutish, recent discoveries by archaeologists and geneticists have painted a different picture of Neanderthals, and one more familiar to us: they buried their dead, cared for the sick, and even painted cave walls. We can now delve into their DNA to trace their evolution in Europe and movements across Asia, and piece together how they lived and died in amazing detail.
This fully updated edition presents cutting-edge research on our fascinating hominin relatives: their interbreeding with humans and other species including the recently discovered Denisovans, their social behaviours such as smiling to indicate friendliness, and the genes they have passed down to us that could be affecting our health. By confronting our differences and similarities to the Neanderthals, this book addresses the biggest question of all: what it means to be human.