Neanderthals are of course extinct. But there never were very many of them, new research concludes.
In fact, new genetic evidence from the remains of six Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) suggests the population hovered at an average of 1,500 females of reproductive age in Europe between 38,000 and 70,000 years ago, with the maximum estimate of 3,500 such female Neanderthals.
"It seems they never really took off in Eurasia in the way modern humans did later," said study researcher Adrian Briggs of the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.
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