Neanderthals: The Enigmatic Cousins of Homo sapiens and Their Lasting Impact

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During the Stone Age, 40,000 years ago,

the whole of Europe was inhabited
by Neanderthals.

Proud hunters,

they don’t know any human beings
other than themselves.

Suddenly, strangers appear
in their hunting grounds.

They look different and are different.
Modern human beings.

The beginning of the end
of the Neanderthals.

What went on between
the Stone Age people and our ancestors?

Did they fight or mix?

Did they even have children together?

How much of the Neanderthal
is present in us?

Who had sex with whom 30,000
to 40,000 years ago does not interest me.

They could do as they liked.

I’m interested
in what influences me today.

The Neanderthals, a myth worldwide.

They were strong,
they survived in a harsh environment.

They’re our closest relatives,
our brothers from the Ice Age.

Their life and death
has baffled researchers.

The Neanderthals survived
for 300,000 years in Ice Age Europe,

and we haven’t existed
for anywhere near as long as that.

The question is, why did they disappear?

The Neanderthals
were the only other human beings

with whom we shared this planet
for a couple of thousand years.

Learning more about them
would mean learning more about ourselves.

One of the questions
that I’ve been asking for too long now is,

why were modern humans able to spread

and by one mechanism or another,
become the dominant form of human biology

in a short time
compared to geologic timescales?

It was still over a period
of 10,000 or 20,000 years.

The Neanderthal genetic code riddle.

An international team of scientists
is unraveling the mystery.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute
for Evolutionary Anthropology

in Leipzig, Germany,
are the first to have decoded the genome

of an extinct human being.

The dream of a lifetime has come true
for the Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo.

We started working
with Neanderthals before ’97,

and five years ago,

decoding the complete genome
was still a dream.

We’ve been working on it for three years.

We had the data over a year ago,
and we evaluated them over the year.

Now we’re ready.

We can dare to say something about them.

Johannes Krause, a passionate researcher,
has been involved since the beginning.

Decoding has posed
the greatest challenge so far to the team.

We constantly had to establish
new methods and other technologies.

We had to use various methods,
and it was a rollercoaster ride.

There was a lot of excitement and tension,
because expectations were very high.

The central question,

have any Neanderthal traits
survived in us?

The regional museum in Bonn.

The world’s most famous bones
are in this case.

They are the crown jewels
of German archaeology.

Ralf Schmitz is the custodian
of this treasure,

the first Neanderthal to ever be found,

whose name was given
to a whole species of humans.

Archaeologist Ralf Schmitz
knows these bones better than anyone else.

His professional life has revolved
completely around them.


This prehistoric human,
who existed 42,000 years ago,

lived to be about 40 years old.

Only 16 bones have survived
down the thousands of years.

Is the key to unlocking
the secret of the Neanderthal genome

hidden in them?

He’s the most famous German of all,
but he is a European.

He’s the only species of human
to have ever developed in Europe.

If there’s a form of human being
which represents Europe and Europeans,

then it is indeed the Neanderthal man.

The story begins in a quarry
near Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1856.

It’s a hard day for the workers.

Hacking away at the stone
and shoveling in the blazing heat,

they come upon bones
and thoughtlessly tip them down the slope.

The world would never have heard
of Neanderthals

if the quarry owner hadn’t been curious.

Are these the remains
of a cave-dwelling bear?

Having a passion for fossils,

the quarry owner orders the workers
to look for other bones.

A skull comes to light
that the world had never seen before.

Strange, what can it mean?

These bones were found in Neanderthal,

a romantic spot
on the river Düssel near Mettmann.

Until the middle of the 19th century,

the Neanderthal was a beautiful,
intact and natural landscape.

Steep chalk cliffs, up to 50 meters high,
towered above both sides of the Düssel.

This romantic narrow gorge
was first called gesteins

and later renamed Neandertal
after Joachim Neander, a writer of hymns.

The Neander Valley,
200 years ago, when it was still pristine.

In one of these caves,

the Neanderthal was probably
laid to rest by his tribe.

Prehistoric humans sought shelter
in a narrow valley

with majestic cliffs towering above,

through which flowed the Düssel,
just as it does today, 40,000 years later.

An ideal that inspired painters and poets,

today would be a nature reserve.

Then came industrialization,

and the lime from the Neander Valley
became a much-desired raw material

for the ironworks in the Ruhr area.

Thousands find work in the quarry.

This is the end of the Neander Valley.

No one yet has any idea

what the quarry owner’s
discoveries of bones might signify.

[German spoken audio]

This is the best-known fossil
in the world,

and it’s the fossil
which made us realize 150 years ago

that other forms of humans,
distinct from us, had indeed existed.

At that time,

nobody believed in the existence
of prehistoric human beings.

Only Johann Fuhlrott, a teacher,
understands immediately

that these bones came
from a Stone Age human.

Did Neanderthals actually exist?

The scientific elite argue bitterly
over this question.

The greatest opponent to this theory
is the most renowned doctor of his times,

Rudolf Virchow from Berlin,
the founder of pathology.

He examines the bones in great detail

and comes to a conclusion
with serious consequences.

They come from a sick,
modern human who was deformed.

The bones of a sick human?

Virchow’s words shaped the cliché
of the dumb Neanderthal,

which persists even today.

It is so deep-rooted.

The hunched posture,
the dull expression in the eyes,

and club in hand,
it’s a distorted picture.

It’s a character assassination,
40,000 years later:

the Neanderthal is a hairy savage
who is more ape than human,

brutal and stupid,

a Stone Age halfwit,
inferior to us in every way.

A sensational find in Croatia in 1899
distorts the picture even more.

Johannes Krause visits
the caves in Krapina,

where the most Neanderthal bones
have been discovered.

Based on our current knowledge
of the Krapina site,

we think that we have
between 75 and 80 individuals,

based on dental samples.

If you study postcrania,
your information might be different.

The find in Krapina gives rise
to a gruesome suspicion.

Did the Neanderthals living here
exclusively consume animal meat?

The traces on bones
suggest something terrible.

Some people argue for cannibalism
so that you have accommodation,

because this was a place
where they performed cannibalism.

Why cannibalistic behavior?
We don’t know.

It could be ritual or starvation.

-Krapina is quite an unusual sample.
-There are also cut marks on the bones.

So it seems like
they were somehow butchered.

Yes, there was butchering.

They didn’t respect the dead.
There are also burnt bones.

The idea of cannibalism was well-known
for the Krapina sample

because of this fragmentation.

Many bones are just split,
broken and fragmented.

In his office in Zagreb,
in the Croatian Natural History Museum

Radovcic shows his German colleague
the carefully guarded evidence,

one of the largest Neanderthal collections
in the world, with hundreds of bones.

Some have been so maltreated
that there can only be one explanation,

says the researcher.

This box has
many split longitudinal bones.

If you consider this bone,

some think it’s good evidence
for splitting to extract marrow.

This is evidence
for cannibalistic behavior in Krapina.

Along these bones, at some points,

you’ll also find different cut marks,
as if done to remove soft tissue.

There are many long bones like this.

Were the Neanderthals
from Krapina really brutal cannibals?

Other researchers have their doubts.

They discovered mysterious marks
on one of the skulls,

a row of notches at regular intervals.

They cannot be a coincidence.

There are many scratches here.

They’re narrow and dense.

Someone was trying to mark this specimen,

this person who just died.

This is unusual behavior for Neanderthals.

We don’t know its meaning,

but it could be evidence
for symbolic behavior.

The suspicion alone was enough.

The alleged cannibals from Krapina
ruined the Neanderthal’s reputation

for good.

Such a monster was not suitable
as a role model, an ancestor,

but more as
a horrible example of evolution.

In Nazi Germany,
the law of the jungle ruled.

It was said that the steel-hard Aryan
had annihilated the inferior Neanderthal.

A school book of the time
talks about the crude Neanderthal,

who was inferior to the nobler race.

In Hitler’s Germany,
there was no place for Neanderthals.

The Nazis treated Neanderthals
with disdain.

Neanderthals didn’t fit in
with the Nazi’s ideal of race.

We should be glad
the original specimen has been preserved.

Because of this,

the Nazis closed down
the first German Neanderthal museum.

Its modern successor,
located near the site of the find,

is a great crowd-puller nowadays.

The Neanderthal myth,

from ridiculed club swinger
to Stone Age superstar.

What an astonishing career.

The image we have of our closest relatives

has changed dramatically
since they were first discovered.

Scientists worldwide want to know
who they were and how they lived.

However, most of all,
what have they got to do with us?

Neanderthals moved swiftly
and completely upright

through their surroundings.

They probably had alert, intelligent eyes
or they would not have survived.

They used fire, wore clothes,
and were able to speak.

They were highly intelligent
Ice Age hunters,

living as the Inuit do nowadays
on the edge of the Arctic.

That’s how they should be seen,
then you’re on the right track.

Today we know that
Neanderthals were social beings like us,

that they were real human beings,
our mirror image.

They were skilled hunters,
who honed their skills over generations.

Only so could they have survived
in the harsh environment.

Initiation into hunting
was an important lesson

in the life of a Neanderthal.

They were faster, more muscular,
and stronger than any modern human.

At today’s Olympics,

the Neanderthals would win
most of the gold medals.

The fascination with Neanderthals
is shared worldwide.

The American, Erik Trinkaus,

has been a proponent
of this thesis for years:

we mixed and had sex
with the Neanderthals.

I’ve always thought of the processes

involved in evolution of Neanderthals
and modern humans,

and their interaction upon meeting,
in terms of populations,

in terms of the messy,
complicated dynamics of populations,

and gene flow,
exchange of mates and having offspring,

between these populations
is a natural part of populations.

That’s how I view the world.

Erik Trinkaus is one of the world’s
foremost experts on Neanderthals.

At his excavations all over the world,

he has come upon skeletons
which could be from a mixed race,

Neanderthals and us,

but the evidence was missing.

Genetic engineering methods
had not yet been developed.

That’s the allure of Neanderthals.

They’re very close to us,
they’re almost us,

but they’re not quite us.

They are our mirror image,
and at the same time,

they are other human beings.

Neanderthals had refined techniques
at their disposal.

They obtained color
from various stones and made spears,

which are in no way inferior
to modern instruments.

They obtained the fuse, the tinder,
to make fire from fungus growing on trees.

They were particularly skilled
in working with stone,

razor-sharp scrapers and spearheads
made by Stone Age master craftsmen.

They also deserve our respect.

They lived in a harsh time
and a dangerous landscape,

with technology
and overall cultural elaboration

considerably less than ours.

They survived under those conditions
for hundreds of thousands of years.

We tend to put down the Neanderthals,
consider them primitive, stupid, whatever.

I would make a bet

that if any one of us,
and I include myself in this,

were suddenly placed back
in a Neanderthal society

and had to make a living,
we might last a few months, maybe.

Back in Leipzig,

scientists at the Max Planck Institute
are busy analyzing the Neanderthal diet.

In the isotope laboratory,

minute particles of Neanderthal bone
are examined.

The result: the prehistoric human diet
was completely different than ours.

It was because there was one thing
that they needed more than anything else:

meat, and plenty of it.

Neanderthals were super predators.

Imagine a group of lions
living in a territory.

These lions would need a lot of kills.
They’d need to catch animals to survive.

They’d die if they don’t kill
enough animals.

This craving for meat drives them on.

They are always out on the hunt,

roaming through vast areas
to get enough prey.

Sometimes they hunt
harmless deer or reindeer.

However, Neanderthals are not afraid
of close combat with dangerous animals,

such as mammoths or bears.

They hunt in groups,
knowing how to overcome

and kill an animal.

It must have been spectacular.

Let’s imagine a group of Neanderthals
trying to catch a young rhino.

It’s something we have difficulties
in even figuring out,

because we know they didn’t have
many weapons to kill from a distance.

We know that they had
things like wooden spears,

but it looks like most of these weapons
were used from a short range.

The prey often needed
to be hauled for miles back to camp.

There was good reason

why the Neanderthals
were more muscular than us.

The animal would be taken apart
in front of the cave.

If you depend on meat and do not exploit
other sources of nourishment,

you will be vulnerable
if stocks of game diminish

or there are extreme changes in climate.

Is this a reason for their disappearance?

Extinction is a normal part
of evolutionary history,

and one day we’ll disappear too.

It’s interesting to find out
why the Neanderthals survived for so long.

…and why they became extinct.

Using the most modern methods,

anthropologists at Max Planck Institute
in Leipzig seek to uncover the mystery.

The jawbones of a mere child of eight
were found in a cave in Belgium.

This is a particularly valuable find,
as fossils of young Neanderthals are rare.

The jawbones open a window in time
into the growth of Stone Age hunters.

The naked eye is not enough.

To get more information from the fossil,
it is scanned three-dimensionally.

This reveals even the inner structures.

From the resulting data,

something never seen before
in history of science has been created,

a virtual Neanderthal.

In the virtual reality room in Leipzig,
French scientist, Jean-Jacques Hublin,

observes the digital rebirth
of a Neanderthal.

He invented this technology,

which has been connecting prehistory
with high tech since 1992.

In this way,

he discovered a surprising difference
between humans and Neanderthals.

That’s an interesting
and important specimen.

It’s important
to look at fossils like this one,

a mandible of a Neanderthal child,

and to evaluate
the speed of development of these people.

Here we have a mandible
with a second molar,

which is already erupted,

and a third molar
which is building up inside the mandible.

By modern standards,

this individual should be
about 12 years old.

However, if we look
at internal microstructures of the teeth,

the lines in the enamel
like the tree rings in a piece of wood,

which helps us
to evaluate the time of development,

we find that this individual was
only eight when they died.

It means that Neanderthal,
at least regarding dental development,

grew up faster than we do.

This means the Neanderthals
had a shorter childhood.

They had much less time than our children
to learn survival skills, such as hunting.

On the other hand, they were able
to look after themselves much earlier.

There are also other differences
between humans and Neanderthals.

Looking at the skeleton
for the first time,

it’s evident how different
both kinds of humans are.

Jean-Jacques Hublin
compares two skeletons.

Would we recognize
a Neanderthal at first sight?

If you would meet
a Neanderthal in the street,

what would look the weirdest
is their face and head.

They had a big head
with a large brain like ours.

However, the face was projected
in front of the brain case.

They had a receding forehead,

which is a major difference
between a modern human and a Neanderthal.

They had strong brow ridges
above their large orbits.

Their face projected forward,
lacking a prominent chin.

However, the real question is,
what are the differences in here?

Although Neanderthals had a large brain
like modern humans,

we know that they developed
this brain in a different way

in terms of speed,
shape and internal organization.

We’d like to know what this implies
in terms of the way the brain works.

Neanderthals were fixed in their ways.

They adapted
to their environment perfectly

and hardly changed their way of life
over thousands of years,

in contrast to modern humans
who were innovative and evolved.

[German spoken audio]

We assume that Neanderthals lived
in groups of perhaps 20 people.

The total population
can’t have exceeded 20,000.

Neanderthals of the later period

lived in a Europe
different from the one we know today.

During the last ice age, 39,000 years ago,
the South was covered in dense forest.

In Central Europe,
there were mainly conifers.

In the North, tundra.

Scandinavia was
an inhospitable semi-desert,

crowned by an ice cap.

Though few in numbers,
the Neanderthals populated a vast region,

from Spain to Western Siberia.

They left traces everywhere.

Each point indicates a site
where finds have been discovered.

The most famous one is located
in Neandertal, Germany.

The world’s first Neanderthal
was discovered here.

Ralf Schmitz is determined
to find the rest.

He excavates the legendary spot,
150 years later.

The greatest adventure in his career.

It gets interesting
once we enter this area.

The actual area of excavation
lies a few meters under the surface.

It’s protected by several layers.

Twenty meters above us was the grotto

where the original
Neanderthal bones were found.

The rock face
and cave were totally destroyed

by the extraction of lime.

The sediment from the cave
must’ve landed at the bottom of the valley

in the 19th century.

The chance of still finding
original Neanderthal bones

depended entirely
on whether the earth from the caves

had been transported
out of the valley in 1856 or not.

A scrapyard covers the area
they want to excavate.

However, despite the obstacles,

work begins in Neandertal
in the autumn of 1997.

Did the researchers
select the right place?

Weeks go by without any significant find.

Sackfuls of earth are cleared away
one by one and sifted by hand.

Not even the tiniest particle
should be overlooked.

It’s laborious work.

Shortly before the end of excavations,
there is a shimmer of hope,

a piece of bone.

Is it a bone from a human being?

We cleaned this cheekbone,

and it became evident
that it wasn’t just any old piece of bone,

but a human cheekbone.

We compared it
with a plastic modern human skull

and saw that the bone
we’d just found was larger.

It was immediately clear
that this is a Neanderthal cheekbone.

Bone by bone, the skeleton was completed.

Fifty further fragments are added.

From the cheekbone,

we can guess
how the first European might’ve looked.

It is like a jigsaw puzzle.

The most important ones are those
which fit the original skeleton.

The very first one that we try

is a small fragment
from the left thigh bone.

If you look at this thighbone
near the knee joint,

you can see that tiny pieces are missing.

This happened
as the laborers at the quarry

struck the bones
in the earth with their spades.

It was a great moment
in the history of archaeology

when the bones made a click.

I felt sick with excitement.

I almost fainted,
because this was of such importance.

This would prove
that we’d rediscovered the original site

in the Neandertal.

The key to cracking
the Neanderthal code is in Leipzig.

A team of international scientists,
led by Svante Pääbo,

has developed revolutionary techniques
to sequence ancient DNA.

We worked on animals, cave-dwelling bears,
mammoths, et cetera for a long time.

When we realized that it worked,
we tried to get hold of Neanderthal bones.

Then we finally got support from Ralf.

Ralf Schmitz,
the custodian of the original Neanderthal,

placed an upper arm bone
at their disposal.

Specimens were taken from this.

The meal was drilled
out of the bone and examined.

Would the extract
contain enough genetic material

to crack the Neanderthal genetic code?

It would be a stroke of luck,
after 40,000 years.

It’s always important
that DNA has been preserved

in such a bone.

Only 10% of the bones
that we examine contain DNA.

The chances are good,

because the Neanderthal upper arm
is not only well-preserved

but also unusually well-developed.

What’s the reason for this?

This man had suffered a fracture
in the elbow joint during his youth.

For the rest of his life,

he was restricted
in the use of his left arm.

To a certain extent, he was disabled.

This can be clearly seen

because the left upper arm
is decidedly thinner than the right one.

If I lay them side by side,
you can compare them yourself.

As a disabled person,

he was cared for
by his group for 20 years.

This says more about Neanderthals
than 10 million stone tools would.

Neanderthals were not only brave hunters
but also caring human beings.

Wounds and broken bones
were a fact of daily life.

They took care of each other in the tribe,

because survival depended
on each and every member.

They were able
to take care of serious injuries.

That means Neanderthals
must’ve had basic medical knowledge.

The daily search for food
was a dangerous business.

Some people have compared
the pattern of injuries and fractures

to those found in rodeo riders.

It’s the same.

So it looks like they were
physically confronting the animals.

The mortality of adults was also high.

This is also likely a key factor
in Neanderthal demography,

the high risk of dying young.

Neanderthals had little chance
of reaching their 40th year of life.

Their final resting place
was always a cave.

The tribe made sure that the body
was protected from carrion-eating animals.

They laid out their dead on their back,
or sometimes curled up on their side,

in a position almost like sleep.

We don’t know
if they believed in gods or an afterlife.

There are some indications
of burial rituals and cults of the dead,

but it isn’t possible
to be more specific after 10,000 years.

However, one thing is clear:

these were human beings,
and they mourned their dead.

The question now is,
how different were they?

What kinds of differences?

To replace one species with another,

you don’t need huge differences
between the two species.

The team in Leipzig hopes
to answer a lot of questions

by decoding the Neanderthal genome.

Why did they become extinct?

Why did modern humans survive?

The attempt to extract
the genetic sequence

from a bone specimen
of the original Neanderthal is successful.

It is the first from an extinct human.

In my opinion, our primary interest
in the Neanderthal genome

is not the Neanderthals themselves,

but rather our own history,
the history of modern humans,

because the Neanderthal
is our closest relative.

Then came the setbacks.

There isn’t enough material
from the original Neanderthal to go on,

while the other bones are contaminated.

When working with Neanderthal DNA,

human contamination
is the greatest problem we have.

Humans and Neanderthal
are closely related.

This means that if I contaminate the DNA
from the bone extract with human DNA,

I can no longer differentiate
between the two.

The bones pass through many hands,
and each one leaves traces behind.

At first, this seems to be
an unsolvable problem for geneticists.

The search for uncontaminated bones
begins across Europe.

We examined a lot of bones,
only to find perhaps five

which had enough DNA
and little contamination,

making them suitable for the project.

The gene hunters find
what they are looking for in Croatia.

The trail leads to Zagreb,

to the time-honored
Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Johannes Krause,

at the very place where lies the key
to cracking the Neanderthal code.

Safe in a glass cabinet,

the precious fossil lay unrecognized
in a dusty drawer for decades

until the team from Leipzig
arrived on the scene.

We carried out
a genetic analysis of the bones

and found Neanderthal DNA
in a lot of them.

This means we were able to get DNA
from all the bones that you see here.

So the Neanderthal DNA
has been preserved for thousands of years,

and we examined these bones to see
if they were suitable for the project.

They are.

One of the bones
contains a lot of information.

The researchers talk about a golden bone.

It has proved to be the most suitable.

It’s only very slightly contaminated
by human DNA

in comparison with the other bones.

In this box here,

we have the bones that gave us the key
to the Neanderthal genome.

On the way to the site
where the bones were found.

It’s located 30 kilometers
north of Zagreb in a dense forest.

Accompanied by two Croatian colleagues,

Johannes Krause pays a visit
to the Vindija cave,

one of the most important
Neanderthal sites in Europe.

Generation after generation
of Neanderthals lived in this cave

until they became extinct.

This site has
some of the youngest Neanderthals

ever to be found,

certainly the youngest Neanderthals
anywhere in this part of Europe.

They lived during an interesting time,
what is often referred to as

the biocultural change or switch
from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic,

a period roughly between 40,000
and 30,000 years ago.

This was a time when some groups
of anatomically modern people,

people like us,
were living in some parts of Europe.

This cave was extremely popular
with prehistoric humans.

Thirteen layers of finds are discovered,

most of them
containing remains of Neanderthals.

I think it’s wonderful just to imagine
that Neanderthals once lived in this cave.

We are standing in the very place
where another form of human lived

and found shelter, 30,000 years ago.

It’s an amazing feeling to know
that Neanderthals definitely lived here

and left their bones,
however they may have come to be here.

It could be that hyenas dragged them in.

The researchers reached
the innermost part of the cave.

It could have happened here,

Neanderthals and modern humans
encountered each other.

Did they mix?

Some people believe
that this can be read in the bones.

There are people who believe
that Neanderthals were interbreeding

with some groups
of anatomically modern humans

when they first came to Europe.

There’s also a possibility
of even older contacts

with various other groups
of people, certainly.

It is a question
whether we can see this in the gracility

or some morphological features of India,
which is a question that we often refer to

when we study these fossil bones.

There is much speculation about the bones.

It could have happened
in the area around Vindija.

The first rendezvous
between Neanderthals and modern humans.

However, genetic researchers say
this couldn’t have happened in Croatia.

If there had really been
extensive mixing in Europe

between Neanderthals and modern humans,

then there should be more DNA
in Europeans today than in Asians today,

and that is not the case.

We find the same Neanderthal DNA
in Europe as in Asia and South East Asia.

Back in Leipzig,

the bones from Vindija
advance the sequencing

of the Neanderthal genetic code.

With their help,

the researchers even hope
to be able to read the whole genome.

To be able to understand
the message from the Stone Age,

it is not enough to examine the genes
from prehistoric man alone.

To understand more, for example,
about their ability to speak,

a comparison is needed
between our extinct closest relative,

the Neanderthal,
and our closest relative alive,

the chimpanzee.

The great apes share
99% of their genes with us.

Six million years
of evolution separate us.

In these six million years,

both chimpanzees and humans
have accumulated

about 20 million genetic mutations.

This altogether makes
the difference of roughly 1%,

so we are indeed closely related.

However, apes can’t speak.

The geneticist, Wolfgang Enard,

is carrying out research
on the chimpanzees at the zoo in Leipzig.

When a gene for language
was discovered in England in 2001,

Enard recognized it was missing in apes.

Could it be one of the genes for language

which made such a crucial difference
between us and our closest relative

in the animal world?

Our difficulty is that,

when we have one gene
by the scruff of the neck,

where we think that something important
happened in human evolution,

we can’t examine it directly.

We can’t change this gene directly
in humans or chimpanzees.

So we must have
some kind of experimental access to it,

for example, using the most
important model organism we have,

which is the mouse.

In the mouse, we can try out
what makes the diverse variations

of the gene different.

In the end,
a mouse is also very similar to us.

Wolfgang Enard wants to know what happens

when a language gene is implanted
in a mouse.

It’s true that the mice
do not begin to speak,

but they do change,
and in very distinct ways.

We’re one step further and see that

this change somehow affects
the mouse’s brain in such a way

that we think we can relate it
to some language-relevant characteristics.

We examine it further
in order to define it more exactly.

However, we’ve taken the first step.

It does something to the nerve cells

and to areas of the brain
which are responsible for human language.

[German spoken audio]

The ability to speak is a quality
that stands out in human beings.

The mouse model proves
that the newly discovered language gene

must play an important role in speaking.

While Wolfgang Enard is investigating
the rodent squeaks,

the team around Svante Pääbo
finds the same gene in the Neanderthal.

The mouse does squeak a bit differently,
and there are changes in the brain.

These are certainly important,
and we shared these with the Neanderthals.

The first part of the Neanderthal code
has been cracked.

It was cutting-edge technology
that made the final breakthrough possible.

This technology has made it possible
to determine 100 million DNA sequences

at one time.

That’s a million times more
than the older machine could determine,

and so we were able to produce
as much data as we needed

to decode the Neanderthal genome.

Finally, after 13 years
of scientific work,

it has been achieved.

The Neanderthal genome has been decoded.

The result is sensational.

They mixed a little,
and there’s a bit of Neanderthal in us.

However, how much?

The researchers answer this question
by also examining modern humans.

They compare the Neanderthal gene
with the genotype of men and women

from five different parts of the world.

The result is a further surprise.

The distribution
of the Neanderthal inheritance

varies throughout the world.

The most astonishing thing
about the results

is that we find this small contribution
in Europeans and Asians,

but not in Africans.

It seems to be something
that Europeans and Asians have in common,

a small part of the Neanderthal genome.

This is a revolution.

Until now, the opinion was that
we were different from the Neanderthal.

The great mystery:

how could Neanderthals contribute
to areas of the world

which were never inhabited
by Neanderthals?

The most probable theory:
mixing with Neanderthals happened early,

with ancestors of the Neanderthals
from Croatia whom we examined.

The most likely area for this
is the Middle East.

It begins in Africa, 500,000 years ago,

early hominids separate
into different lines,

the ancestors
of anatomically modern humans

and the ancestors of the Neanderthal.

The early Neanderthals migrate,
settle to the east,

and spread across the whole of Europe.

Around 100,000
to 50,000 years before our time,

modern humans also migrate from Africa
and mate with Neanderthals.

On their triumphal march across the world,

they carry a tiny part
of Neanderthal DNA in their genetic pack.

They spread it to regions
never inhabited by Neanderthals.

To put it in a nutshell,
Neanderthals are indeed our ancestors,

we are family.

Neanderthals are us,
and I think it’s wonderful

that something remains
of these fascinating Ice Age hunters.

Neanderthals disappeared
28,000 years before our time.

Humans carrying their genes
returned to Africa.

It is only south of the Sahara
that Neanderthal DNA is not found.

I’d like to think
that the general public would be pleased

to know that
we have a bit of Neanderthal in us.

They were tough and durable people.
They lived in very tough circumstances.

They survived for hundreds
of thousands of years.

I’d be proud to know that
I have Neanderthals among my ancestors.

We have a lot of things
in common with the Neanderthals.

For example, excavations across Europe
have revealed that, like us,

prehistoric humans decorated themselves
with color made from clay,

and yet they were different.

In what ways are we different?

What makes us so unique?

A good example is why Neanderthals
didn’t produce any works of art.

I still can’t explain how Neanderthals
were our equals in all areas of life

except for their lack
of artistic production.

Modern humans are the first
to bring art to Europe, 40,000 years ago.

Can this difference
be identified genetically?

In a clean room,

Johannes Krause makes
a Neanderthal gene sequence

visible to the human eye.

By cracking the Neanderthal code,
researchers now hope to be able

to uncover
humanity’s last remaining secrets.

We can move beyond questions of gene flow

and who was having sex
with whom in the Pleistocene.

We can go on to questions of biology,
behavior, adaptation,

and maybe from this,

we can get a better handle
on what it might have been

in terms of modern human biology
that made that pattern.

That modern human biological pattern
finally becomes the more successful one.

Modern humans are successful
because they can communicate better.

Over thousands of years,
the Neanderthals hardly changed at all.

However, we are flexible.

We can guess
what another person is thinking,

we can think in symbols,

but we are also aggressive
and do not give space to other species,

nor to other human beings.

With the Neanderthal code,
we now have a key

to some of the most important
questions about ourselves.

Comparing and knowing more
could be important

to even understand
and solve problems of future of mankind.

The real mystery is why was one species,
our species, so successful?

Why is this species so invading?

How did it manage to cover the planet
and be so successful and numerous.

The Neanderthals were skilled
in so many ways.

They survived for thousands of years
in the harshest of conditions,

putting up with swings in climate
and ice ages.

They could cope with nature

until something happened
that they were not prepared for.

To think that a natural cause would lead
to the extinction of the Neanderthal

just at the time
when modern humans migrated to Europe,

after 200,000 or 300,000 years
of this kind of up and down

in the population
would be an incredible coincidence,

that it happened just at the time
when modern humans were coming.

It’s the beginning of the end

when modern humans
appear in the land of the Neanderthals,

40,000 years ago.

They replace the Neanderthals
in their hunting grounds.

They reproduce much faster.

The number of prehistoric people

They are driven back to the boundaries
of their original homeland.

Their culture is lost forever.

Their craftsmanship,

skills in hunting,

and solidarity in the tribe

is doomed.

However, today we know more
than we have ever known

about our extinct brothers.

This Neanderthal puzzle
gets more and more colorful.

They will keep us supplied
with interesting material

for at least 50, if not 100 years.

The Neanderthals disappeared
from Earth nearly 30,000 years ago.

We modern humans now dominate the planet


but a bit of Neanderthal has survived

in each of us, even till today.