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EllaAl-Shamahi177 karma

YAAAAAAS and it is really exciting whenever more evidence comes to light and everyone gets excited... this is because whereas we seem to have a lot of art, Neanderthals have evidence of it but we aren't overwhelmed by this evidence in the archaeological record. What I mean by that is there is a lot in the record to show our art and much less to show Neanderthal art... so it is an area of contention and whenever more is found it leads to a flurry of excitement. We cover this in today's BBC episode but some of the coolest discoveries happened after we wrapped filming!

EllaAl-Shamahi135 karma

For those of you asking this will be out in America on PBS. Those of you in the UK episode 2 is at 8 on BBC2!

EllaAl-Shamahi119 karma

Ah he's so great! I was SO INTIMIDATED. Imagine I had never presented anything before or been a contributor and they were like 'yo you want to work with Andy Serkis'. He was so pleasant, really generous, VERY down to earth and Jesus he's just so so good. Having said that I didn't watch any film he was in from the min we starting developing this show till we wrapped because I couldn't handle it!

EllaAl-Shamahi110 karma

Hallo John! It is one of the most debated subjects in my field tbh. We try to cover it in today's episode (episode 2) but it is condensed. Traditionally folk would say throwing spears or some kind of cognitive ability or... I think they are contenders but recently 3 things have come to light which I find interesting

1- Homo sapiens teeth have been found in China, well before we expected to find them... what on earth were we doing that far east in China and not in Europe, closer to Africa and Neanderthal territory? My supervisor Maria Martinón Torres, one of the people behind the study, has asked if perhaps we went east instead of into Neanderthal territory because the Neanderthals weren't letting us in.

2- there seem to be interesting and significant differences in the regulation of our foxp2 gene compared with Neanderthals — this is the so-called language gene... it is much more than that.

3- some population geneticists are suggesting that this may not be a simple replacement... that instead we may have subsumed the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals had been around for a while, longer than we have been around, they 'had a good go of it' John... we don't have any real answers just lots of points to argue over with this! It is fascinating though... as for a firm species differentiation... you trying to start a fight between palaeoanthropologists man?! We argue over a lot, especially over what constitutes a species!

EllaAl-Shamahi78 karma

We cover this a bit in today's episode at 8pm. Catch it because it is actually strangely emotive. Honestly I would LOVE to meet a real Neanderthal, to see what these features I study are really like... but it would be so cruel and unethical. They evolved in a different time, I think we should leave well-enough alone. Plus you know they would be a lab rat, they may die of a lack of immunity to modern day diseases, the stress of being the only one would be terrible and lonely... and honestly heaven help the poor modern woman who has to push out the larger Neanderthal skull during child birth!