Know Your Neanderthals, with Natalia Reagan

Neanderthals are one of many hominin species paleoanthropologists study. Here we have a Neanderthal skull, a Denisovan tooth, a Homo erectus skull, Homo naledi skull, Australopithecus afarensis (AKA Lucy) skull, and a Paranthropus boisei skull. Credit: Natalia Reagan.

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About This Episode

In her first full outing as a StarTalk All-Stars host, primatologist Natalia Reagan, welcomes first-time comic co-host Sarah Siskind, biological anthropologist Todd Disotell, and anthropology professor Will Harcourt-Smith to investigate all-things Neanderthal. You’ll discover how our understanding of Neanderthals as muscular, neck-less brutes is being reshaped thanks to new research on their DNA. Find out what we can learn from studying Neanderthal DNA, including more about their immune systems and diet. You’ll hear how it was previously thought there was no interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans, but recent discoveries have proven “primate introgression.” You’ll also learn about the discoveries being made by studying Neanderthal teeth and how the local and regional environment could have impacted their diet. Explore Neanderthal culture and symbolic behavior, including things like jewelry, burying the dead, cave-paintings and more. Explore Neanderthals’ use of predominantly flint, Mousterian tools and why it indicates more complex, cognitive problem solving. Natalia and company also muse over why Neanderthals went extinct and if modern humans had anything to do with their demise. All that, plus the panel answers fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about topics like the aquatic ape theory, ape communication, and human morphology.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Know Your Neanderthals, with Natalia Reagan.

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  • Sean C

    I just read James Rollin’s Bone Labyrinth a week ago and hearing them talk about Neanderthals and the lost city of Atlantis in the same breath is kind of hilarious.

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