Timeline Story

Split from Neanderthals 400,000 BCE

16,000 Generations Ago

Humans and Neanderthals had a common ancestor about 400,000 BCE. Humans did not evolve from Neanderthals, but both are the current evolution of a common ancestor. The two species interbred so if your definition of species is the traditional “individuals capable of exchanging genes”, interbreeding, then Neanderthals are not a separate species from modern humans. Through DNA testing we can identify DNA that came from interbreeding with Neanderthals. Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 BCE. They built shelters, wore clothes, used tools, and spoke. We know that about .03% to 4% of the genes in modern humans is from Neanderthals. It is highest in East Asians, intermediate in Europeans, and lower in Southeast Asians. 

The common ancestor is tentatively identified as Homo Heidelbergensis which lived from about 600,000 to 200,000 BCE. The 400,000 BCE is the current best guess, but there is growing evidence the split could have come as far back as 500,000 BCE.

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