Since their discovery more than 160 years ago, Neanderthals have metamorphosed from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins. In Kindred, Rebecca Wragg Sykes uses her experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research to share our new understanding of Neanderthals, shoving aside cliches of rag-clad brutes in an icy wasteland. She reveals them to be curious, clever connoisseurs of their world, technologically inventive and ecologically adaptable. They ranged across vast tracts of tundra and steppe, but also stalked in dappled forests and waded in the Mediterranean Sea. Above all, they were successful survivors for more than 300,000 years, during times of massive climatic upheaval.
At a time when our species has never faced greater threats, we’re obsessed with what makes us special. But, much of what defines us was also in Neanderthals, and their DNA is still inside us. Planning, co-operation, altruism, craftsmanship, aesthetic sense, imagination, perhaps even a desire for transcendence beyond mortality. Kindred does for Neanderthals what Sapiens did for us, revealing a deeper, more nuanced story where humanity itself is our ancient, shared inheritance. It is only by understanding them, that we can truly understand ourselves.
‘A wonderful portrait of these enigmatic, long-lost relatives.’ Professor Alice Roberts