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April, 2009

Neanderthals on Trial
Resources for studying the mystery of Neanderthals and the roots of our own ancestry.
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12


Neanderthals on Trial is a companion Web site to the PBS program originally broadcast in 2002. Here youll find resources and materials for studying the mystery of our Neanderthal cousins and the roots of our own ancestry.
The site is well organized with links to the major areas in the body of the main page, as well as in the image map at the top of the page. Links to text-only pages are available by scrolling to the bottom of the main page.

Despite a century and a half of study and debate, questions still remain. Were Neanderthals our ancestors, or an evolutionary dead-end? Were they assimilated into early modern populations, or wiped out in a Pleistocene genocide? Neanderthals on Trial investigates this long standing mystery. The materials are arranged into four main categories: Cast of Characters, Into the Frey: The Producers Story, Tracing Ancestry with MtDNA, and Dig and Deduce (Hot Science). The Cast of Characters includes interactive QuickTime movies comparing two famous skulls to learn their histories and anatomical differences. Using mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) geneticists have traced the maternal lineages of all modern humans back to a common ancestor who lived 150,000 years ago. In this section, visitors will learn about the logic of the discovery that there is no evidence that were related to Neanderthals. In Dig and Deduce, as you uncover bones and artifacts and then try to figure out what the evidence suggests, you'll find out for yourself that it isnt easy to give definitive answers to questions about life in the Paleolithic Age. Included is a teachers guide that addresses standards, classroom activities, ideas from other teachers, and a list of related resources. .


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