Neanderthals on Trial

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History Documentary published by PBS broadcasted as part of PBS Nova series in 2002 - English narration

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In 1856, bones of an unrecognizable hominid turned up in Germany's Neander Valley. This early human and others like it -- sturdy, large-headed individuals -- came to be known as Neanderthals. Despite a century and a half of study and debate, Neanderthals remain an enigma. Were they our ancestors, or an evolutionary dead-end? Were they assimilated into early modern (Cro Magnon) populations, or were they wiped out en masse in a Pleistocene genocide? "Neanderthals on Trial" investigates this long-standing mystery.

For 200,000 years - more than 10,000 generations - Ice Age Europe belonged to the Neanderthals. They were pioneers at the northernmost fringe of human territory.

But then things began to change.

There were strangers on the landscape, hunting the game, moving into the caves. As time passed, their numbers grew while the Neanderthals declined...until at last the ancient people of Europe were gone...and the world belonged to modern humans. For almost thirty thousand years, we forgot about Neanderthals. We found our way to every corner of the planet and, eventually, into our own distant past.

One hundred fifty years ago, German quarrymen working in the Neander valley made a startling discovery - strange bones, human, perhaps, but not like any living human.

Ever since, the Neanderthals have been on trial.

Were they humans, like us? Or dumb brutes?
Were they our ancestors? Or an evolutionary dead end?

After more than a century of investigation and often bitter debate, we still don't have the answers.

Now, the keepers of the original Neanderthal bones have agreed to try something new.

They're going to sacrifice a piece of the precious skeleton for DNA analysis. This, they hope, will solve the Neanderthal mystery once and for all.

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Image: Neanderthals_On_Trial_Screen0.jpeg

[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: XVID
  • Video Bitrate: 793 kb/s
  • Video Resolution: 480x272
  • Audio Codec: MPEG Audio Layer 3
  • Audio BitRate: 128 kb/s
  • RunTime Per Part: ~53 minutes
  • Number Of Parts: 1
  • Part Size: 351 mb
  • Ripped by digital distractions

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