Neanderthals were members of a now-extinct species, or species sub-group, closely related to modern humans that is known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Like modern humans they are classified as part of the genus Homo. The term Neanderthal, a shortening of Neanderthal man, is sometimes spelled Neandertal, the modern spelling of the location in Germany where the species was first discovered. Neanderthals are classified alternatively as a subspecies of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or as a separate human species (Homo neanderthalensis). Genetic evidence suggests they are closer to non-African than African anatomically modern humans, which is probably due to interbreeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of the Eurasians. This is thought to have occurred between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago, shortly after (or perhaps before) the proto-Eurasians emigrated from Africa, and while they were still one population. It resulted in 1-4% of the genome of people from Eurasia having been contributed by Neanderthals. The first proto-Neanderthal traits appeared in Europe as early as 600,000_350,000 years ago.
Contributions by UtherSRG, Joy, and Peak.