Skip to content

Lecture: Who were the ancestors of the Neandertals?

Looking at what we know about Neandertal origins and how our understanding has changed in the last decade.

1 min read

I visited Gibraltar in September 2018 to participate in the Calpe Conference. In this event, visiting scientists meet with the public to share some of the most updated research on Neandertals. Gibraltar is a small peninsula but it is home to some of the most significant archaeological sites for Neandertals, including Gorham's Cave and Vanguard Cave. These are now the centerpieces of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For my Calpe lecture, I wanted to consider the deeper-time perspective on Neandertals. DNA evidence shows their relationships to the Denisovans and recurrent intermixture in which Neandertals received genetic input from African populations. But where did these populations ultimately come from? I dig into the question.

Events with John HawksNeandertalsNeandertal DNADenisovans
John Hawks

John Hawks Twitter

I'm a paleoanthropologist exploring the world of ancient humans and our fossil relatives.

Related Posts

Members Public

What color were Neandertals?

Even with whole genomes, scientists can't say very precisely what pattern of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation was in ancient populations like the Neandertals.

Fifteen Neandertal faces of varied ages and complexions
Members Public

New evidence is revealing the ages of death, birth, and menarche in Neandertals

Analysis of dental cementum is yielding new insights into the ages when ancient people faced significant physiological stresses.

A Neandertal woman with two children clinging to her, an older woman tends a fire and a child looks on from the background
Members Public

Explaining the X chromosome hole in Neandertal ancestry

Natural selection reduced the variation on human X chromosomes in populations with the most Neandertal and Denisovan mixture. It may have been meiotic drive.

A fluorescence image of chromosomes in cells undergoing meiosis