Difference Between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans)

Neanderthals vs Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans)

There are a number of differences between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans) that include a number of physical differences too. Neanderthals and modern humans are two closely related species. Neanderthals originated before modern humans. In fact, their origin dates back to the ice age. They lived with modern humans for several millennia and became extinct. There are two basic hypothesis to explain the extinction of Neanderthals. The first hypothesis is that it was due to rapid climate changes that they became extinct. The second one is that it was the increasing competition with their relatives; modern humans that they became extinct. Unlike the Neanderthals, the ancestors of modern humans had the ability to survive in warmer conditions. Thus, modern humans are still ruling the earth. In this article, let us take a better look at Neanderthals and modern humans and explore the differences between them.

Who are Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans)?

Homo sapiens or modern humans are the most advanced species live on earth to date. Many hypotheses were suggested to explain the evolution of modern human. According to the latest ‘out-of-Africa’ model, many scientists believed that the first modern human lineage originated in Africa. By the time of the extinction of Neanderthals, the modern humans have already flourished in Africa, Europe and many parts of the Asian continent. Within a very short period, modern humans were able to adapt to different climatic conditions and developed different physiological characteristic features such as different skin colors, hair colors, etc. Modern humans are less strongly built when compared to their early ancestors. However, unlike the other Homo species, the ancestors of modern humans were able to build more sophisticated tools.

Difference Between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans)

Who are Neanderthals?

Neanderthals were first considered as a subspecies of Homo sapiens. However, genetic studies later revealed that Neanderthals were a different species that became extinct about 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals were well adapted to cold environmental conditions. Neanderthals had largely built, robust, stronger skeletons, unlike modern humans. When compared to the female skeleton of a modern human, Neanderthal females had large and robust skeletons. Neanderthals’ skull was broader and elongated than the human skull. They lacked the chin eminence, and the mandible was large and heavy. Neanderthals had very complex social structures and used languages to communicate. Some evidence revealed that they were able to play musical instruments too.

 Neanderthals vs Homo Sapiens

What is the difference between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens (Modern Humans)?

• Scientific name:

• Neanderthals: Homoneanderthalensis.

• Modern humans: Homo sapiens.

• Body Strength:

• Modern humans are not strongly built when compared to Neanderthals.

• Live on Earth:

• Modern humans are the only human species that live on Earth to date.

• Neanderthals became extinct about 30,000 years ago.

• Brains:

• The brain of Neanderthals was larger and had a different shape than that of modern humans.

• Cranial Capacity:

• Neanderthals had an average capacity of 1430 cc.

• Modern humans have an average capacity of 1300-1500 cc.

• Occipital Bone:

• In Neanderthals, occiput was ‘bun-shaped’ with occipital torus.

• In modern humans, occiput is more rounded and arched with no torus.

• Mandible:

• Neanderthals had large, heavy mandibles with no chin eminence.

• Modern humans usually have a chin eminence.

• Supraorbital Brow Ridge:

• Neanderthals had very prominent and uninterrupted supraorbital brow ridge.

• It is less prominent in modern humans.

• Teeth:

• Neanderthals had retromolar gap behind third molar.

• Modern humans lack retromolar gap behind third molar.

• Adapted Climatic Conditions:

• Neanderthals were adapted to live in colder environments.

• Modern humans are adapted to live in warmer climatic conditions.

• Females:

• Females of Neanderthals were same in height, shape and strength as their males.

• Females of modern humans are different from males and can be distinguished easily.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Homo Sapiens by Véronique PAGNIER (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Neanderthals via Wikicommons (Public Domain)