Netflix Documentary ‘Secrets Of The Neanderthals’ Reveals 75,000-Year-Old Person’s Face


Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
Font Size:

A new documentary titled “Secrets of the Neanderthals,” which premiered May 2, offers viewers a glimpse into prehistoric life with the facial reconstruction of a Neanderthal woman who lived 75,000 years ago.

The new Netflix documentary, “Secrets of the Neanderthals,” produced by the BBC Studios Science Unit, is now streaming worldwide and features the facial reconstruction of a Neanderthal woman who lived 75,000 years ago. This discovery stems from an ongoing archaeological project conducted by the University of Cambridge and Liverpool John Moores University at the historic Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Researchers excavated the well-preserved skull of a Neanderthal, known as Shanidar Z, from the Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2018. It is a site famous since the 1960s for Neanderthal burials. Over the years, the skull had been compressed to about two centimeters thick due to sediment and rock fall, posing unique challenges for the team, according to University of Cambridge.

Dr. Emma Pomeroy from the Department of Archaeology at Cambridge noted the differences and similarities between Neanderthal and modern human skulls. The reconstructed face of Shanidar Z shows fewer differences than previously anticipated, providing new insights into the interactions between Neanderthals and early modern humans.

Dr. Lucía López-Polín, the lead conservator, and the Kennis brothers, expert paleoartists, reconstructed the skull of Shanidar Z using advanced 3D printing and forensic science techniques. They assembled over 200 fragments, adding layers of muscle and skin to create a lifelike representation. (RELATED: ‘The Bloody Hundredth’ Documentary Sounds Like It Will Make You The Proudest, Most Heartbroken Patriot)

Researchers estimated the Neanderthal woman was in her mid-forties, and stood about five feet tall. Her small arm bones indicated her female gender. Without pelvic bones available, the team used tooth enamel protein sequencing to determine her sex and analyzed tooth wear to estimate her age.

The documentary further reveals Neanderthals’ advanced social structures and burial practices at Shanidar Cave, marked by a massive rock indicating a long-used burial site. Professor Graeme Barker leads the excavation, showcasing their sophisticated rituals and challenging views of them as primitive. “Secrets of the Neanderthals” enhances our grasp of their culture and mysterious disappearance, marking a pivotal evolution study, according to University of Cambridge.