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Neanderthals are an extinct group of fossil humans that appeared in Western Eurasia in the mid-Middle Pleistocene and shared the stage with the first modern humans arriving in Europe from around 45,000 years ago, before disappearing from the fossil record around 40,000 years ago. Neanderthals were a highly successful group, having adapted well to the unpredictable climate of a region in which advancing and retreating ice sheets were no strangers. Their short, stocky build made them sturdy and powerful, while their large brains fuelled their capability of hunting even the biggest Ice Age creatures such as mammoths or woolly rhinoceros.

More about: Neanderthal


  • c. 2600000 BCE - c. 12000 BCE
    The Pleistocene epoch, ranging from c. 2,6 million years ago until c. 12,000 years ago. It is characterised by repeated cycles of glacials and interglacials.
  • c. 2600000 BCE - c. 12000 BCE
    The Palaeolithic (or Old Stone Age) period, ranging from c. 2,6 million years ago until c. 12,000 years ago.
  • c. 550000 BCE - c. 765000 BCE
    Estimated time of divergence between the branch that would develop into Neanderthals on the one hand and Denisovans on the other, and the branch that would lead to Homo sapiens.
  • c. 430000 BCE - c. 473000 BCE
    Estimated time of divergence of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
  • c. 45000 BCE
    Potential earliest arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.
  • c. 40000 BCE - c. 30000 BCE
    Neanderthals disappear from the fossil record.
  • 26000 BCE
    Neanderthals become extinct in Spain, their last European area of settlement.