The proportion of Neanderthal-inherited genetic material is about 1 to 4 percent. It is a small but very real proportion of ancestry in non-Africans today.
Middle Palaeolithic handaxe from Shirley, Southampton. It was found in the gravels of one of the river terraces associated with the Solent river system and shows signs of wear and traces of iron staining consistent with having been redeposited by the river. The handaxe is marked in ink ‘100’ WD’ recording that William Dale, the collector, discovered it associated with the 100’ terrace of the river system.
It is bifacially-worked and in the shape of a rounded triangle, what archaeologists call a ‘Bout-coupé’ handaxe.
What is interesting about such types is that they were not made by Homo sapiens, modern humans, but are associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis. The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the homo genus found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Neanderthals are classified as a subspecies of modern humans.
They were much stronger than Homo sapiens, having particularly strong arms and hands and were better adapted biologically to cold weather. When climate change caused warmer temperatures, the Neanderthal range retreated to the north along with the cold-adapted species of mammals they hunted.
Genetic evidence suggests interbreeding took place with Homo sapiens (modern humans) between roughly 80,000 and 50,000 years ago in the Middle East, resulting in 1–4% of the genome of people from Eurasia having been contributed by Neanderthals.
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