The Neanderthals inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 230,000 to 29,000 years ago (the Middle Palaeolithic and Lower Paleolithic, in the Pleistocene epoch) (Neanderthals 2005). Neanderthals were adapted to cold, as shown by their larger brains, short but robust builds and large nose. These features are also observed in modern day sub-arctic populations (Neandethals 2005). For many years, there was a vigorous professional debate about whether Neanderthals should be classified as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. The latter places Neanderthals as a subspecies of Homo sapiens; however, recent evidence from mitochondrial DNA studies indicates that Neanderthals were not a subspecies of Homo sapiens (Neanderthals 2005).
On average, Neanderthals stood about 1.65m tall (just under 5' 6") and were very muscular, comparable to modern weight-lifters (Neanderthals 2005). Their relatively robust stature is thought to be an adaptation to the cold climate of Europe during the Pleistocene epoch (Neanderthals 2005). Nothing is known about their skin color, the hair, or the shape of soft parts such as eyes, ears, and lips. ...Show more