Segments in this Video

Introduction: Neanderthal, Part 1 (02:23)


Neanderthals are stereotyped as inferior ape men, dying off 40,000 years ago; new research reveals their DNA is present in modern humans.

Film Studio (02:00)

A visual effects team will create a realistic representation of these archaic humans. Ella Al Shamahi and actor Andy Serkis discuss the task with Neanderthal experts. The first step is to learn how they moved.

Finding Ned (02:28)

Al Shamahi travels to Zagros Mountains to study Neanderthal territory; 600,000 years ago, they split from African humans, spreading across western Asia and Europe; 60,000 years ago another migration followed, reuniting the humanoids. In the 1950s, paleoanthropologists uncovered fossilized remains of ten bodies; Shanidar One is chosen for the recreation project.

Forensic Reconstruction (03:33)

Experts at the University of Dundee Forensics department build an individual's image from their skull; see the process of laser scanning and tissue layering; Ned is distinguished from humans by a heavy brow and prominent jaw. His features are large, but the outcome appears human.

Artistic Expression (03:50)

Dutch Paleo Artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis specialize in recreation of ancient hominids; see examples of their work. Al Shamahi tours their Netherlands studio. They advise her to give Ned's avatar character and personality; details are applied to his facial computer reconstruction.

Building Body and Movement (05:36)

Complete Neanderthal skeletons have not been found; Al Shamahi, Serkis and experts build Ned's frame from various remains. See special effects team movements converted to Neanderthal motion by computer. Dr. Tara Chapman explains their capabilities and range; Dr. Jean Jacques Hublin discusses humerus.

Environment (02:12)

Computer animators work on graphic avatars built on accumulated evidence; see early renditions. Neanderthals evolved in Ice Age Europe; bulbous noses and stout statures were likely adaptations.

Replicating a Hunt (06:11)

Dr. Daniel Liebermen discusses conditions of Neanderthal habitat requiring specialized adaptations. He compares encounter hunting and persistence hunting; Dr. John Steward explains environmental reasons and physicality required for ambushing prey. See lab experiment using motion capture technology to test a long distance runner’s performance after modifying facial features.

Wielding Weapons (04:05)

Dr. Libby Cowgill explains how bone deposits indicate muscle density; she determines right arms of Neanderthals thicker and stronger than their left due to thrusting heavy spears. Injury patterns are compared to those of rodeo riders, suggesting incurred during pursuit of large game. Scientists compare their power to human strength.

Hunting Prey (02:12)

Fossils do not reveal skin details; Dr. Nina Jablonski discusses pigmentation and environment, assessing Neanderthal dermis as moderately pigmented. See a computer model replicating a Woolley Mammoth hunt using compiled data. With vegetables in scarce supply, they ate prey's intestines for vitamin content.

Cognition (05:46)

Dr. Philipp Gunz specializes in three-dimensional imaging of skulls to determine brain size and characteristics. He creates a virtual imprint and model of Ned's brain, revealing larger size and different shape. Scientists debate possibilities of comprehension and intellectual capabilities; they discuss the use of tools and sophisticated technologies.

Culture (04:29)

Recent evidence reveals Neanderthals capable of abstract thought and expression; Professor Clive Finlayson and Dr. Geraldine Finlayson explain archaeological findings suggesting use of language and mathematics. They preferred black feathers for fashion; scientists believe they used ash and ochre for makeup and hygiene.

Communication (05:06)

Dr. Sandra Martelli studies a fossilized hyoid to compare speech patterns; findings remain uncertain, but the computer model indicates capacity for similar vocalizations. The FOXP2 gene renders modern humans capable of developing abstract language; a version has recently been discovered in Neanderthal DNA.

Neanderthal Ned (04:47)

After gathering evidence and determining features, Al Shamahi resolves to animate Ned; see Serkis at work, portraying the Neanderthal through stop motion computer technology. The three dimensional model is the most accurate recreation of the species. They were stronger and smarter than once thought, inspiring questions regarding their disappearance.

Credits: Neanderthal, Part 1 (00:29)

Credits: Neanderthal, Part 1

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Neanderthal, Part 1

Part of the Series : Neanderthal
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Ella Al-Shamahi, Andy Serkis, and a group of experts create a scientifically accurate 3D working avatar of a real Neanderthal.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: FMK169099

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.