neanderthals' dark secret, the

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

Terra Mater Factual Studios






CINE Golden Eagle Awards 2013 (Bethesda, USA): Televised Documentary & Performance Division – Science & Technology

Episode Information

A tomb of bones, 49,000 year-old Neanderthal bones, has been discovered by chance in a remote, mountainous region of Northern Spain. It is an unparalleled end. It may help solve the biggest Neanderthal puzzle of all—why we are here today and they are not. Mystery surrounds the cave system called El Sidron. The bones are buried 20 metres below ground, and almost a quarter of a kilometre from the tunnel entrance. How did they get here? The bones are not weathered and there are no teeth marks from wild animal scavengers. But there are other signs that tell a shocking story of how this group of six adults, three teenagers, two children and a baby may have met their death. Some bones have deep cuts, long bones are cracked and skulls crushed—distinct signs of cannibalism. Was it a result of ritual or hunger? What happened here 49,000 years ago will take us on a much bigger journey—from El Sidron to the other end of the Iberian Peninsula where scientists are excavating beneath the seas off Gibraltar in search of Neanderthal sites. Here we meet evolutionary biologist Clive Finlayson. He believes he knows why Neanderthals went extinct. But like so many other theories, Finlayson’s has no hard evidence. El Sidron may change this ...

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