Accurate, painted as if they were a lot like us, loved flowers, children and fell in love.
They lived over much of Europe, from 400,000 years ago unto 30,000 years ago. They interbred with us, so they live on, but are not found as a distinct species.
We coexisted with them for 10 or 20 millennia and our genes say we mated “freely,” as one geneticist put it.
At the high point, our genes were 10 percent Neandertal.
Their brains were bigger than ours and they were stronger and hardier. They were here for 100,000 years before the first traces of us. They are not our ancestors but a cousin species to us. We both came from homo erectus, who appeared 1.9m years ago.
All 3 species coexisted for 150,000 years. H. erectus left Africa and colonized Europe and Asia long before Neandthals and us.
The genes for white skin and blue eyes don’t appear till 8,000 years ago.
Artwork by scientific illustrator Tom Bjorklund of Finland