Column / Field Trips

Neanderthals: Body of Evidence


Our interactive graphic tours the Neanderthal body, pinpointing clues about ancient life gleaned from ancient bones.

As every fan of crime drama television knows, the human body holds a wealth of information about its once-living owner. Flesh and bugs may tell of time of death, but as emphasized in Bones (perhaps the most iconic TV show in this category), the bare bones themselves speak greater volumes. Bone shape and size can often reveal sex and age; bone chemistry and teeth tell of diet and health. Subtler clues can reveal all manner of details: which hand the deceased preferred to use, their access to health care, or even what their voice sounded like. All of this holds true for modern humans—and for our ancient relatives too.

SAPIENS’ archaeologist columnist Anna Goldfield has compiled a head-to-toe tour of the Neanderthal, one of our most famous cousins. Her stories walk us through the body of evidence for what Neanderthal lives were really like as told through their bones. This interactive graphic collates all of them; simply click on the links below to reveal their secrets.

Image courtesy of Fiorella Ikeue/SAPIENS