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), also spelled Neandertal, member of a group of archaic humans who emerged at least 200,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch (about 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) and were replaced or assimilated by early modern human populations () between 35,000 and perhaps 24,000 years ago.

Neanderthals inhabited Eurasia from the Atlantic regions of Europe eastward to Central Asia, from as far north as present-day Belgium and as far south as the Mediterranean and southwest Asia.

Neanderthals lived before and during the last ice age of the Pleistocene in some of the most unforgiving environments ever inhabited by humans.The limb bones were robustly built, with large articular surfaces on the ends (that is, surfaces at joints that are typically covered with cartilage) and bone shafts that were bowed front to back.The remains of large extinct mammals and crude stone tools were discovered in the same context as the human fossils.What happened to the Neanderthals is one of the most-enduring questions in science, and it has been addressed in the early 21st century by applying genetic techniques to compare DNA from hundreds of living humans and ancient DNA recovered from Neanderthal fossils.The earliest genetic studies of Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA supported the idea that the origin of modern humans was a speciation event.Upon first examination, the fossils were deemed by anatomists as representing the oldest known human beings to inhabit Europe.

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