Rewriting the history of the Neanderthals

Pity the poor Neanderthals, who had the misfortune of being discovered at the time Darwin was evoking the outrage of his contemporaries by suggesting that humans, apes, and gorillas have a common ancestry.
The fossilized bones of Neanderthals were first excavated in the middle of the 19th century. The bones were undeniably human, but distinctly different than those of modern men and women. The stocky limbs and heavy, slanted brows suggested a gorilla-like ancestor that no one warmly welcomed to the human family tree.
In The Outline of History, published in 1920, H.G. Wells promoted the view that a dim racial remembrance of the Neanderthals may survive in folklore stories of ogres. He assumed that the first modern humans did not interbreed with Neanderthals, and attributed this separateness to the Neanderthal’s “extreme hairiness,” “ugliness,” and “repulsive strangeness.”
Science Musings by Chet Raymo

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