Appearance: The Neanderthal appearance could be quite brutish. Their build was broad and strong with deep, powerful chests and legs tending to be shorter in relation to their body. This gave them a lower centre of gravity than their Cro Magnon relatives. Neanderthals were built for endurance at cold, high altitudes. Features were wide, with deep set eyes, prominent brows and short, sloping foreheads. Hair colour varied between blonde, red or black, and eye colour could range from blue to black. Skin tone depended on location, those Neanderthal who made their life in what is now Western Europe tended to paler white, whereas their more eastern counterparts could be found with darker skin tones. Neanderthal were mostly ambidextrous.
Average Height: The average height of a Neanderthal male was 5’3” to 5’5” with females standing a little shorter at 4’9” to 5’2”.
Habitat: The typical Neanderthal range stretched between far west Europe and as far east as central Asia. Certain isolated family groups or individuals may have ranged farther. Neanderthals preferred colder climates of higher altitude.
Strengths: Endurance in cold climates with thick bodies adapted to retaining heat. Massive physical strength. Huge capacity for memory. Strong family bonds, a compassionate people.
Weaknesses: Tendency to look to the past and retain the teachings of their ancestors, meaning their weapons and hunting techniques have not changed or adapted in millennia. Tendency to settle in one place rather than migrate.
Beliefs: The Neanderthals believed that they were created by the Sky God Eron, who taught them how to make tools and create fire. Like all other species, Neanderthals were taught to avoid other species of human and to interact with them in any way was to provoke the wrath of Eron and bring ill fortune down upon the family group involved. Neanderthals believed that Eron left them in anger when they failed to progress in his teachings, leaving them at the mercy of the Cro Magnon. Many songs were sung in the hopes that Eron would hear the plea of his abandoned people and return.
Culture: Neanderthal family groups were typically small, with between 10 to 20 family members. The group followed a male chief and his mate. The chief was chosen for his depth of knowledge and skill. A male could take one or two mates but the small size of the family group tipped the tendency to one female to one male.
Every year or so in the summer time, family groups in the immediate area would gather to exchange knowledge and to find new mates outside of their own family group to renew the family bloodline.
The Neanderthal’s large brain was geared towards memory rather than ingenuity. They remembered all teachings from their ancestors and clung to this knowledge of the past instead of testing and learning new things. Neanderthal culture remained almost unchanging for several millennia.
The Neanderthal diet was primarily made up of meat and both the male and the female members of the family learned the skills of hunting as part of a group. Neanderthal hunting technique involved the close range ambush of large pray; a risky business often resulting in injury. Neanderthal weapons were not designed for long range throwing or tackling prey at a distance. The injured were cared for carefully by the family group until they were well enough to hunt again.
Neanderthal spoken language was basic, supplemented with gestures. Stories were told with the aid of art work painted upon cave walls. Caves were the Neanderthal favoured form of shelter, though bone and hide constructions were used on the rare occasions when the group migrated to a different territory.
Legacy: Neanderthal DNA makes up 2% to 4% of the genome found in many Europeans today, genes that influence skin tone and hair colour. This DNA may also subtly effect some of our behaviours and has been found to increase our risk of some diseases or certain conditions.