Flashcards for the Evolution of Modern Humans
Topics 1-2:  Homo heidelbergensis and Neandertals
(13 cards)

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Copyright 2005-2012 by Dennis O'Neil. All rights reserved.

The name given of the species that some paleoanthropologists now use to classify for the more biologically progressive post-800,000 B.P. populations in Europe. By 400,000 years ago, some populations of these people began the evolutionary transition that would end up with Neandertals and possibly some other peoples that have been collectively referred to as archaic humans.

Homo heidelbergensis

The most well-known late archaic humans. More of their skeletons have been found than any other pre-modern human species. They lived in Europe and Southwest Asia from at least 130,000 years ago until 28,000 years ago.


The genus and species names of the Neandertals if they were a separate species from our own.

Homo neanderthalensis

The genus, species, and variety name of the Neandertals if they were a separate variety of our own species.

Homo sapiens neanderthalensis

The name of a nearly complete elderly male Neandertal skeleton excavated in 1908 in southwestern France. The bones were analyzed between 1911 and 1913 by the noted French paleontologist, Marcellin Boule. This was the source of a mistaken view about the Neandertals that would last for decades.

La Chapelle-aux-Saints man

Marcellin Boule's view of what Neandertals were like. This misunderstanding was the result of letting his prejudices get in the way of scientific objectivity.

dull-witted, brutish, ape-like creatures who walked hunched over with a shuffling gait

The body shape and appearance of Neandertals compared to modern humans.

Neandertals were generally larger boned, more heavily muscled, and shorter--adult males averaged just over 5 feet tall

The head shape and appearance of Neandertals compared to modern humans.

Neandertal heads were longer from front to back, resulting in low, sloping foreheads. They had large brow ridges and noses. They lacked the pointed chin that is common in modern humans.

The brain size of Neandertals relative to modern humans.

Neandertal brains were slightly larger than those of the average modern human (Neandertals averaged 1450 c.c., modern humans average 1345 c.c.)

The kind of climate in which larger brains and bodies are metabolically more efficient and likely to be selected for.

very cold climate

The term for a pattern of evolution in which different parts of the body evolve at different rates. In the case of humans, we essentially attained our modern form below the neck by at least 2 million years ago. However, our cranial capacity did not reach its current size until around 100,000 years ago.

mosaic evolution

The term for the brain increasing in size over and beyond that explainable by an increase in body size.


The first humans to live successfully in regions with sub-arctic climates.