Prehistoric Europeans looked like us

Prehistory had as many white people as black people and brown people.  It only depended on where the populations lived in terms of climate.

The first people to arrive in Europe got here over a million years ago.  After a few thousand years those who survived would be on the road to adaptation to a seasonal climate.

Homo heidelbergensis, who had spread all over Europe by 400 000 years ago, undoubtedly had white skin, brown, hazel or green eyes and brown or light brown hair.

European prototype features started to appear in the following species:

  • Homo ignis antecessor – Fire maker Man   [European Homo erectus; Homo antecesor / Spain] a million years ago
  • Homo praecursor heidelbergensis – Precursor Man   [Homo heidelbergensis] over 400 000 years ago
  • Homo centralis – Central Man / Black Sea, Central Asia  [Neanderthal man] over a 100 000 years ago
  • Homo aequalis – Contemporary Man / Israel  [Homo sapiens] 100 000 years ago

Homo sapiens is characterized as being ‘anatomically modern’. ‘Anatomically modern’ includes the following features:

  • Taller stature than previous types of man
  • A flatter rib cage
  • Marked differences between male and female skeletons
  • The skull has thinner bones
  • The skull has lost its brow ridges
  • The nose is larger and more prominent
  • The teeth are smaller and the jaw reduced in size
  • Reduction of the jaw gives a flatter face
  • The chin appears as the jaw is reduced
  • Above all, the cranial capacity is increased with the skull housing a larger brain.

Anthropologists often repeat that ‘anatomically modern’ humans evolved in Africa 100 000 to 200 000 years ago, and that only this type of prehistoric man was capable of human thought. But these anatomical features have clearly been evolving both in Europe and China for at least this amount of time.

Changes moving in the direction of ‘anatomically modern humans’ occurred in populations all over the world, not just in Africa. There is continuity between prehistoric species and modern-day populations both in Asia and Europe – this suggests that these people were our ancestors.

Do small differences in a skeleton cause someone to be human or not human? 

We now live with diversity every day, all around us, in a shared life and our answer is no.  Small differences are just part of human variety.  What matters is the mind of the person and how they think.

Can anthropology defend the thesis that all prehistoric European peoples were wiped out due to being inferior – replaced by migrants from the south?  I think we’re still all here and funnily enough we look very like our European white-skinned prehistoric ancestors who have lived in these parts for over a million years.

Life style and human evolution

Over the course of three million years the member species of the human line have undoubtedly changed significantly.  This is what justifies classifying them as different species.  Each species in the genus Homo has characteristics of the skeleton and cranium that are recognizable.  What is the actual basis to this human evolution?

Since the 19th century it has been assumed that apes have gradually evolved into humans because its better to be a human and reach the so-called pinnacle of evolution.  But, upon reflection, there is no reason why this should be the case – if, for example, you were put down in a tropical forest in Africa, you would have a much better chance of surviving as a chimpanzee than as a human.

If human beings were only animals and their ancestors only upright walking apes then they would have evolved in the same way as other animals.  Through evolution they would have become adapted to an ecological niche and then remained the same for millions of years, on condition that the ecological niche continued to exist.  The niche in question is deep forest in Africa over the past three million years.  Gorillas and chimpanzees inhabited this forest with the first species of mankind.  The apes are still there like before, while mankind has changed in an extraordinary way.

The reason for that change is this: the human body is adapted to environment and climate as animals are  adapted to their environment, but the change in humans is also driven by adaptation to human culture determined by invention.  The mind of man creates a human environment to which he adapts.

Each body type in the genus Homo is adapted to a human life style.  Humans interact with their environment through the interface of a level of technology.  For example, a large cat kills its prey with sharp canine teeth and claws.  Humans have flat teeth and nails – no human hunter has ever killed prey with his bare hands.

The trajectory of human evolution makes no sense without the human mind and invention.  So this is my thesis: that human evolution goes far beyond any animal evolution because mankind has been ‘sapiens’ from the beginning.  The drive itself towards an increase in brain size in the human line is because mankind used his and her brain for human thought.  The skeletal features or form of the body are the products of that thought embodied in human culture.

Shared life style and not survival in the wild is at the root of human evolution.

There is not a gradation in humanness, but there is progress.  Progress is obtained by beings who are already human and therefore desire what is new and innovative.  Progress is not the aim of an unevolved sub-human.  There has not been a gradual gradation into being human. 

There has never been a knuckle-dragging ape-man aspiring to gradually evolve into a human, while exchanging grunts for words.  This is a fiction of evolutionary theory, a construct that was a reflection of our society, and not a true reading of the evidence lying in the ground. 

What is in a label?

A label is supposed to pick out the main feature of something – something by which it can be identified.  It is often also a judgment.  When the subject matter is human species this is a sensitive issue, unless, of course those prehistoric species are considered sub-human and so devoid of any opinion about it – also dead a long time ago so unable to reply.

The oldest examples of mankind are labelled Australopithecus meaning ‘southern apes.’  Subsequent fossils are labelled as ‘hominids.’  This means they are considered to be animals walking upright and looking like humans, but too stupid to be humans.

Thought experiment:  What would it be like to meet one of these so-called sub-human hominids?

If I met a Homo heidelbergensis woman from 500 000 years ago here in England she would actually look very like me.  (My natural hair colour is dark by the way).  This woman would speak a language I couldn’t understand.  Would I turn round and say “I’m a Homo sapiens and you’re not?”  It is only possible to say this when all you meet is some dry fossilized bones in a museum, and the bones can’t answer back.

Every human bone in my body tells me that this is wrong.

I am convinced of the humanity of prehistoric species of mankind.  I think that labels should represent the humanness and peopleness of our ancestors.

Here is a new classification of species in the human line with the current labels in brackets.  Note that the separation into species is based on skeletal differences and does not imply that the different species could not have children together.

  1. Homo primocreatus / Primordial Man

[Australopithecus; Paranthropus; Zinjanthropus; Nut-cracker man]

Example: ‘Lucy’

3.6 million years, Africa

2. Homo habilis / Tool-User Man

Oldowan stone tools, 2 million years, Africa

3. Homo ignis / Fire-maker Man

[Homo erectus meaning upright man] 2 million years, Indonesia

[Homo ergaster meaning fast-runner man] 1.8 million years, Africa

Example: ‘Turkana Boy’ from Kenya

            Homo ignis antecessor

            [Homo antecesor] 1.2 million years, Atapuerca Spain

Europe 900 000 years

4. Homo praecursor / Precursor Man

Homo praecursor pekinensis  

[Sinanthropus pekinensis; Homo erectus; Peking Man; Java Man]

750 000 years China, Indonesia

Homo praecursor afarensis

900 000 years Olorgesailie

[Rhodesia man; Homo ergaster]

324 000 years Kabwe, Rhodesia/ Zambia

[Homo heidelbergensis]

Homo praecursor heidelbergensis

[Homo heidelbergensis; Archaic Homo sapiens]

400 000 years, Europe

5. Homo centralis / Central Man

[Neanderthal man]

150 000 years Black Sea, Central Asia

60 000 years Israel, Europe

6. Homo aequalis / Contemporary Man

[Homo sapiens; ‘Anatomically modern man’]

100 000 years, Israel

            Homo aequalis fossilis

[Homo sapiens fossilis; Cro Magnon man] France 35 000 years

            7. Homo aequalis sinensis

            [Mongoloid race]

            Homo aequalis europaeus

            [Caucasoid white race]

            Homo aequalis afarensis

            [Negroid race]

            Homo aequalis centralis

            [Caucasoid semitic race]

            Neolithic farming within the last 10 000 years

            Civilizations, ancient empires, globalized world

From 2000 BC onwards, progressively of mixed race

Homo is the genus name; aequalis is the Latin species name and europaeus is the name of the race.  (If you were classifying animals, plants or domestic animals and dogs the last name would denote the subspecies, variety or breed of dog). 

Why change the label Homo sapiens?

Because it is unfair to reserve this label only for ourselves, when all forms of mankind have been ‘sapiens’ which means understanding, rational and wise.

Homo sapiens: a melding of cultures and genes

The first Homo sapiens fossils date from 100 000 years ago with fossil skeletons found in sites in Israel.  Homo sapiens was taller with long limbs and a more gracile skeleton than Neanderthal.  The skull had thinner bones, had lost the brow ridges and evolved a chin.  The nose was long and slender and the brain size large.

What caused this evolution into Homo sapiens or modern man?

I believe it started with the invention of the bow and arrow.  Why?

Because with warfare conducted with bow and arrow, the cause of death is not a blow to the head, but an arrow through the ribs.  This is why the skull evolved thinner bones and lost the brow ridges.

The first evidence of arrow heads comes from Stillbay in South Africa 164 000 years ago.  Fire was used to heat up silcrete rock and make crescent-shaped blades and arrowheads.

Homo sapiens entered Ice Age Europe 35 000 years ago and formed the Upper Palaeolithic culture characterized by a great variety of tools made of stone, flint, bone, antler and ivory.  But it appears that there was a coalescing of peoples in the Near East before this happened.  African peoples with bow and arrow may have encountered Eastern peoples with harpoons, and both of these met up with the descendants of Homo heidelbergensis from Europe. 

In effect, with the onset of the Ice Age, Homo heidelbergensis retreated southwards into North Africa and the Middle East to continue root crop cultivation in the warmer climate.  Homo heidelbergensis brought caucasoid adaptation to a cooler climate to the genetic mix of Homo sapiens.  This was crucial to the physiological adaptation of Homo sapiens to extreme cold.

There was 65 000 years of peoples from Africa, Asia and Europe meeting in the Near East forming a new subspecies of human before the Upper Palaeolithic was initiated in Europe by Homo sapiens.  Exchange of knowledge and the sharing of inventions led to the very varied Upper Palaeolithic tool kit of Homo sapiens.

There must have been a set of key inventions that allowed Homo sapiens to enter a continent filled with snow and ice.

The first key invention was the wearing of clothes with boots for the feet.  This required learning how to make leather and cure furs.  The clothing development is known from the bone needles used to sew clothes and horn toggles used to hold them together found at Cro Magnon sites in France.

Hunting weapons included spear heads, arrow heads and harpoons, but the key to hunting was probably dogs.  Dogs have been associated with humans for over 50 000 years. The domestication of the dog for hunting meant that the dog did the chase, not the hunter.

I think the other innovation was transport.  Homo sapiens had the plank boat that was rowed to cross rivers and used to reach islands.  This type of flat-bottomed punt-shaped boat also became a sledge when on snow.  There were dogs to pull sledges in a landscape of snow and ice.

Wearing clothes in a cold climate with only the skin of hands and face exposed to sunlight led to the evolution of white skin in Europe at this time.  White skin makes vitamin D even in low sun conditions.

Tall stature and wide body meant that brain size reached an average of 1570 cc which is above the modern global average of 1400 cc.

Cro Magnon man gets his name from a rock shelter at Les Eyzies, in the Dordogne region of France.  When the Ice Age ended in Europe 11 000 years ago Cro Magnon disappeared, but the Upper Paleaolithic culture continued in Finland complete with many artifacts such as sledges. So it seems that Cro Magnon migrated northwards.

Fair hair and blue eyes evolved through genetic loss of pigments.  These traits appeared at some point during the 25 000 years of Homo sapien’s Upper Palaeolithic residence in the land of snow and ice.

At the end of the Ice Age Neolithic farmers moved into southern Europe.  They were of shorter stature, and had the darker skin and hair colour of Middle Eastern people.  They brought the Neolithic polished stone axe and used fire to burn down forests and make agricultural land.  The new farmers combined raising cattle with growing cereal crops.  Because grain crops can be stored in barns, this set the stage for the coming of civilization.

One last question remains: Where did those red haired people come from?

Red hair seems to have first occurred among Celtic people who came from Eastern Europe.  Red hair goes with pink skin which does not tolerate much sun.

I think the rare gene for red hair survived among the Celts because these people did not get vitamin D from exposure of the skin to sunlight, but from consuming milk.  It is a trait among herding peoples whose diet has a high proportion of milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter.

The genius of Homo sapiens was in the melding of cultures and in the organization of a federation of tribes to bring peace during the 65 000 years spent in the Near East leading up to the emergence of Upper Palaeolithic culture.  These were the qualities that brought success to ‘anatomically modern man.’

Neanderthal and a new way of life

The prehistory of Neanderthal and Cro Magnon man is one of conflict.  Neanderthal man entered Europe 52 000 years ago but was chased out by Cro Magnon man; he was either killed off or left 33 000 years ago.  This has been presented as a superior species of mankind getting rid of an inferior, unevolved species of mankind.  Since the 19th century Neanderthal has been portrayed as an incapable brute unable to figure out what to do.

The truth, I believe, is very far from this.  Did this ‘half-evolved brute’ stoop because his ape ancestors caused him to be unable to walk upright like a man?  No, not at all.  Neanderthal spent a lot of time squatting which caused his hip joints to face a certain way, and he did all this squatting because he spent a lot of time in a canoe squatting.

Neanderthal’s arms were long because he used them for paddling as his dominant form of locomotion.  His stocky body was barrel-shaped, rather than having a flat rib cage.  The wide female pelvis allowed for a brain size above the modern average – it ranged from 1250 to 1750 cc.

Neanderthal had thick skull bones and a low forehead with separate brow ridges, especially in the male.  His nose was large with a prominent bridge to the nose.

The stone industry of Homo neanderthalensis was the Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian stone industry.  This industry comprises a lot of well-made flint spearheads.  It dates from 100 000 years ago in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Neanderthal was a large game hunter using spears, as well as a shellfish eater.  He left mounds of shells at the sites he occupied on the coast.

I see Neanderthal as a bronze-skinned type with dark hair in a birch bark canoe.  He was adapted to the cold.

Neanderthal came to Israel from the Black Sea 60 000 years ago and moved on to hunt Ice Age fauna in Europe.  (He should have a different name as his origin was not the valley of this name in Germany).  In the Levant region Neanderthal encountered Homo sapiens and left some genes among the Homo sapiens population – probably from the capturing of Neanderthal women by Homo sapiens.  In Europe, however, there was outright competition between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens Cro Magnon man with the latter ousting the former.

Both before and after this encounter in the west, Neanderthal also moved eastwards through Asia to Siberia and Alaska reaching North America and South America possibly 100 000 years ago, but certainly by 30 000 years ago.  All over America and in Siberia canoe nomads left behind the Miolithic stone industry which is akin to the Mousterian stone industry.  Using these obsidian stone weapons he hunted American megafauna on the plains, while other tribes specialized in being marine hunter-gatherers.

What Homo neanderthalensis with his Middle Palaeolithic stone tool industry had made was a way of life that enabled him to exploit resources that other peoples had not exploited fully up until then.  Canoes allowed him to inhabit the shores of the Black Sea, cross the Mediterranean into Europe and penetrate inland via rivers.  At some point he ventured far enough north to cross from Siberia into Alaska and enter the continent of America. It was there for the taking as it was mainly uninhabited by previous peoples.

The Acheulean Culture of Archaic Homo sapiens

Through human invention and ingenuity a great culture was to grow up worldwide that was to cause the human body to evolve into a proto-type of modern man.  This occurred through adaptation to life styles set by human culture.

The revolution started with the mastery of making fire.  This set the scene for other cultural developments.

The earliest evidence of the controlled use of fire is from Xihoudu in Shanxi Province and in Yunnan Province, China dated to 1.7 million years.  This discovery was passed on to ‘Java man’ living at Trinil on the island of Java 830 000 years ago.  It was also passed on to ‘Peking man’ living in Zhoukoudian cave in China from 460 000 to 230 000 years ago.

Fire-making may have been discovered twice independently as there are two ways to make fire.  There is evidence for the use of fire in Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa dated to a million years ago.  This would have been passed on to the inhabitants of the Cave of Hearths in South Africa dated at 700 000 to 200 000 years ago.

The Asiatic method for making fire may have been the one involving flint stones struck with pyrite to produce sparks to light tinder.  The African method could have been the bow drill method involving use of a hardwood stick, a softwood base and a bow to drive the friction of the stick. 

Use of fire reached Spain, France and England 415 000 years ago.  In Europe people undoubtedly gathered around a fire to keep warm, but the game changer was cooking.  The cooking of meat allows more of it to be consumable for humans, but also vegetables can be consumed cooked that cannot be eaten raw.

The stone tool industry of the Acheulean included the iconic Acheulean stone axe either perfectly oval or pear-shaped.  Like the Oldowan stone tool industry which continued until 500 000 years ago, it is classified as a Lower Palaeolithic stone tool industry.  These tools were not made by brutes, but by skilled stone knappers.

The Acheulean stone axe is called a ‘hand-axe’ by anthropologists.  But even Homo heidelbergensis would not be daft enough to make a sharp edge on the side of a tool that he was holding in his hand.  These stone axes were hafted onto a wooden handle in a similar way to Homo sapien’s Neolithic stone axe.

The heavy stone axe could be used to work with wood.  For example, it could be used to hollow out a tree trunk to make a dug-out canoe.  Canoes allowed for migrations and expeditions up rivers; they also allowed islands in marshland to be inhabited.

The Acheulean culture had two centres – one was China and the other South and East Africa.  Acheulean stone axes were made by Olduvai man from Kenya one million years ago.  There may have been a coalescing of these two cultures in the Near East before the spread of Acheulean culture in Europe 400 000 years ago.

Homo antecessor was a gatherer of certain edible plants.  I believe that it was Homo pekinensis in China, Homo heidelbergensis in Europe and Olduvai man in Africa who started to replant some of these plants.  I see the Acheulean culture as marked by two main types of plant cultivation: the first was the cultivation of marshes turning them into fens.  The second was the cultivation of root crops in forest clearings.  Acheulean stone axes like later Neolithic stone axes would have helped in the preparation of land for planting.

Protein in the Acheulean diet came from animals hunted using traps and spears.  Even very large animals such as elephants were hunted in this way.  There were also nets and baskets for trapping eels and fish.

So camp fires, stone axes, dug-out canoes, cultivation of marsh plants or root crops, and cooking were the basis to a prehistoric culture that spread worldwide.  The number of sites greatly increased about 500 000 years ago since the population supported by this way of life greatly increased – it increased enough to make tribal warfare frequent.  Skulls display a developed brow ridge as natural defence from being clubbed over the head by warriors from a rival tribe.

The new diet of cooked meat and mashed up root vegetables caused the jaw and teeth to become smaller and the face flatter – this is closer to the modern human condition.

Stature was medium, and the body became wider for semi-sedentary populations who did not need to run fast or constantly walk.  Greater width of the body allowed females to give birth to larger babies so brain size for Homo heidelbergensis was between 1100 cc and 1400 cc; with the average being 1200 cc.

The three main racial types were developing 500 000 years ago.  Proto-mongoloids had bronze skin and dark hair; proto-caucasoids developed the Mediterranean type with tanned white or brown skin and brown hair; and proto-negroids developed darker skin in Africa where living exposed to the sun.

The success of the Acheulean culture is that it was counted in hundreds of thousands of years, maybe 600 000 years worldwide, and not the mere 6000 years that civilization and Neolithic agriculture has to its name.

Early forms of human

Fossils which show the first departure from animals to humans are labelled Australopithecus africanus or ‘african southern ape.’ These creatures lived in South Africa 3.6 million years ago. I propose a renaming of these creatures that reflects the humanity of these, the first progenitors of the human lineage, I propose to rename them Homo primocreatus – primordial man or even first-created man.

Choice is at the root of what it is to be human.  We can choose well, and we can choose badly.  One type of early human appears to have chosen badly. 

There was a robust type of Australopithecus in South Africa and a similar type labelled Paranthropus in East Africa who lived between 3.6 and 1.4 million years ago.  This type had  huge teeth and a sagittal crest on the head to hold chewing muscles due to the option for a diet of very rough food material.

The other type of early human seems to have opted for lighter food items and maybe a more technical approach.  The more gracile type evolved into Homo habilis, the tool user 2 million years ago.

The most complete skeleton of Homo primocreatus was named ‘Lucy’ or AL 288.  She stood just over a metre high or 3 ½ feet.  The average brain size of Homo primocreatus was 450 cc.  This was a bit bigger than the chimpanzee average of 385 cc.

The jaws were large to accomodate teeth that were human, but large by modern standards because adapted to coping with a raw food diet.  The feet and hands were fully human.

The wide flaring pelvis had muscle attachments for climbing muscles.  Homo primocreatus climbed trees with great ease, while also walking upright on the ground.  This form of pelvis is the opposite condition to the ape pelvis which is long rather than wide.

The wide pelvis probably denotes a bit of a pot belly.  The legs and arms were long and muscular.  The skin may have been of intermediate tone since these small, early humans lived in dense forest away from direct sunlight.

Fire appeared in Africa 3 million years ago – whether natural or contrived it converted land that had been thick jungle into open savannahs with grazing herd animals.

Homo habilis was the first to start to inhabit savannah lands.  Stress analysis of his bones show that he spent less time in trees, and more time walking or running.  His stature increased slightly and brain size was 750 cc.

Louis and Mary Leakey excavating in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania in the 1950s found evidence that Homo habilis had driven animals into an ancient bog they called the ‘slaughter house’ to trap them, and then butchered them using stone tools.

The first stone industry is called the Oldowan Stone Industry.  Stone knappers use the language part of the brain when making stone tools.  Thus, the presence of stone tools denotes the use of language by Homo habilis.

The next type of human to evolve was Homo erectus.  Homo erectus got this name from walking upright, although, all humans had walked upright from day one. I propose to rename this type Homo ignis – Fire-maker Man.

This new type found in East Africa 1.8 million years ago had long legs, taller stature and a very narrow body.  The robustness of the bones showed that he was the super-athlete.  He would have been capable of running a herd animal down in what is known as the persistence hunt.  This is when a hunter runs an animal down before killing it with a spear.

Homo erectus in Africa is also called Homo ergaster, but I am naming both of them Homo ignis.  The most complete skeleton of Homo ignis is of the ‘Turkana boy’, a juvenile individual.  Adult individuals had skulls with highly developed brow ridges and a cranial capacity of 750 to 1050 cc.

Homo ignis migrated from Africa to Indonesia in Asia 2 million years ago.  Brain size in the Indonesian population was of 915 to 1000 cc.

Homo ignis appears to have had little trouble crossing seas to migrate to various islands and to follow the coastline of continents.  I think he would have used rafts to cross rivers or short stretches of sea between mainland and islands.

Homo ignis was a terrestrial hunter-gatherer who lived only in tropical regions of the world.  However, the territory needed to support hunter-gatherers must have been limited and start to run out since the evolution of large brow ridges indicates that there was constant tribal warfare using clubs to batter the opponent over the head.  This meant that only the thick-skulled with pneumatic brow ridges survived.  When land was not sufficient the other solution was to migrate.

Homo ignis nomads made it as far as Europe 1.2 million years ago.  The first human site in Europe is Atapuerca in Spain 1.2 million years, but Homo ignis even got to England at Happisburgh in Norfolk a million years ago and left Oldowan stone tools behind after some flint knapping.  Other Mediterranean sites such as in Italy are dated to 900 000 and 800 000 years.

Spanish anthropologists named European Homo erectus ‘Homo antecesor.’  This population would be the first to start to evolve adaptations to surviving cool conditions in Mediterranean seasonal variations in temperature, both physically and culturally.

These were the first forms of mankind – Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster and Homo erectus or Homo primocreatus and Homo ignis.  They lived in Africa and migrated to Asia.  These early types were adapted to tropical climates in the world.  Finally, a few made it to the Mediterranean to make a start on adaptation to a temperate climate maybe moving north in the summer and retreating south in the winter so as not to experience frost.

Migrations of the genus Homo

It is my contention that all forms of humans have been intelligent and fully human from day one.  Day one happened a long time ago, in fact 3.6 million years ago.  All humans descend from the first male and female progenitors of the human lineage who appeared in South Africa in a place of dense forest.

The different forms of humans from prehistory are labelled as separate species, although manifestly they had no problems in producing offspring together from time to time.  This means that they were not separate species, but only separate sub-species of one human species.

The genus of mankind is Homo and the species is sapiens – the creature with knowledge.  To reflect the belief that all humans have been fully human, each species should be labelled as, for example, Homo sapiens habilis.  In this case, habilis would denote the sub-species.  Within sub-species there are races or varieties which have slight differences, but all belong to one species.

I will be using some of the classic labels for the prehistoric forms of humans just to try to avoid confusion in an area of anthropology ladden with confusion. But I also intend to propose new labels.

So let’s be clear – I am asserting that there has never been an ape-man; there have been primitive forms of mankind, but an intermediate gradation between apes and humans has never existed.

Did Neanderthal stoop and swing his arms like an ape?  No, he had features of the hip bones found in some modern populations and they walk perfectly well.  His arms were a bit long, but that is because he was using them for locomotion – not knuckle-walking like an ape, but paddling a water craft.  The same feature is found in canoe nomad tribes in South America.

The average size of Neanderthal’s brain was significantly larger than the global average of modern humans today.  He may have lost out to incoming Homo sapiens populations in Ice Age Europe 35 000 years ago, but it was not because he lacked intelligence.  I’ll be getting to grips with these issues on this website and in books.

First, a quick overview of the migration of the human lineage.  This is the migration of humans (none of them were ape-men):

Australopithecus was first found in South Africa 3.6 million years ago. 

By 2 million years ago Homo habilis was living in East Africa.

Homo erectus also known as Homo ergaster lived in East Africa 1.8 million years ago.

By 2 million years ago Homo erectus was also living in Indonesia in Asia.

These first forms of humans only lived in tropical regions of the world.

Homo erectus migrated to southern Europe by 1 million years ago.  He is sometimes called Homo antecesor in Spain.

500 000 to 300 000 years ago there was Homo pekinensis in China, Homo heidelbergensis in Europe and Olduvai man in East Africa.  This globally distributed form of human used to be labelled Archaic Homo sapiens.  Among Archaic Homo sapiens three racial types started to evolve: proto-mongoloids, proto-caucasoids and proto-negroids.

Homo neanderthalensis appeared some 100 000 years ago in Central Asia.  He moved into the Levant region (Israel) and then Europe.

Homo sapiens appeared 100 000 years ago in Israel.  This was the place where populations from Africa, Asia and Europe met.  It was ‘the melting pot’ of cultures and of intermarriage between peoples for 65 000 years before Homo sapiens migrated into Europe.

Key inventions and adaptation to cold allowed Homo sapiens to move northwards into Ice Age Europe 35 000 years ago.  Homo sapiens also called Cro Magnon man caused Neanderthal to cease to occupy Europe 33 000 years ago (but Homo neanderthalensis went elsewhere).

When the Ice Age ended 10 000 years ago, Neolithic populations grew up first in Asia and America, and later in the Middle East moving into Europe by 5000 BC.  Homo sapiens Ice Age hunters became herders in northern Europe and dispersed to other places after the Ice Age ended.  Civilizations grew up on the basis of Neolithic agriculture, and the rest is history as they say.