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D. A Better Understanding of Neanderthals

Narrator: This is Science Today. A common misconception about Neanderthals is that they were brutish cavemen. It's a mischaracterization that has been applied over the years since their discovery in the 1880s. Paleontologist Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley says researchers have since been learning a lot more about these primitive hominids by studying their remains.

White: We can learn more about not only the world of the Neanderthals, but how the Neanderthal behaved. They were very sophisticated. They were stone toolmakers - they do exquisite tools in flint - so we're able to understand something about the way they modified their physical surroundings.

Narrator: Their brutish reputation was probably initially based on their rough-looking appearance.

White: They have what you might call a wrestler's physique, rather than a pole-vaulter's physique. Short, stocky, extreme strength, very big brow ridges over the eyes, they lack chins and they have sort of a fish face. We know a lot about them physically, but we're learning more and more about their behavior as these digs go on.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.