The Neanderthal Man lived in Europe, North Africa, the Near East and parts of Asia during the period from about 100,000 to 35,000 years ago. The Neanderthal stage is a stage intermediate between the stages of Homo erectus and modern man.
Neanderthal Man was discovered in 1848 from Rock of Gibraltar but it went unnoticed. In 1856, Neanderthal Skeleton was again discovered from Neanderthal valley in Dusseldorf, Germany. In its true sense, the term Neanderthal is restricted for the people of fourth glaciation living in Europe, Near East and Central Asia.
Judging from the anatomical features of Neanderthal, Ernest A. Hooton divided them into two types- Classical and Progressive. La Chappelle-aux-Saints, La Moustier, La Quina, La Ferrassie are some of the members of the classical group while the progressive type is represented by Ehringsdorf, Krapina, Steinheim, Tabun, etc.
The Neanderthal Man flourished during the Mousterian (Mid-Palaeolithic) period, which corresponds to the last glacial invasion. The flora and fauna found in association with the skeletal remains indicate a very moist and cold climate. Woolly rhinoceros, woolly mammoth, reindeer are the typical fauna of the period.
A change in tool type is also noticed during this period. The Mousterian culture is represented by points and scrapers of various designs and similar other artifacts.
Characteristics of Classical or Conservative Neanderthals (La Chappelle-aux-Saints):
- It was discovered in 1908 in a cave in Correze district, France.
- The age of the fossil has been estimated to be upper Pleistocene and the culture is Mousterian.
- The Cranial Capacity is 1600 C.C.
- The maximum length of the skull was 208 mm and breadth was 155 mm.
- The cephalic index was 74.5.
- The skull was large.
- The forehead was receding.
- The occipital region was protruding.
- The Supraorbital ridge was heavy, rounded, and continuous.
- Orbits had a greater transverse diameter than the vertical diameter.
- The upper jaw projected in a muzzle-like fashion.
- The nose was broad.
- The lower jaw was large and strong.
- Chin was very much reduced.
- Ascending ramii was larger and broad.
- The whole surface of the skull was rough.
- Teeth were always large.
- Femur lacked Linea Aspera.
- Legs were short.
- The posture was imperfect.
Characteristics of Progressive Neanderthals:
- The cranial capacity was 1400 C.C.
- The skull was longer.
- Vault of the skull was high.
- Higher cephalic index.
- Forehead was less receeding.
- Occipital region was slightly projecting.
- Supra orbital ridge was not heavy.
- Orbits were more rounded.
- Maxilla was not projected like muzzle like fashion.
- The nose was less broad.
- The nostrils were less widely separated.
- Lower jaw was slightly larger.
- Had a distinct chin.
- Skull was less rough.
- Form of brain was advanced.
- Teeth was not always large.
- Ramus varied in length.
- Femur had linea aspera.
- Legs were long and completely adapted for erect posture.