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"Nova" Decoding Neanderthals (2013)

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Nova: Season 40: Episode 7 -- What happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did they make love or war?


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TV Series:
Original Air Date:
9 January 2013 (Season 40, Episode 7)
What happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did they make love or war? | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Who were the Neanderthals and why did they disappear? See more (1 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order)
Corey Johnson ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
John Hawks ... Himself - University of Wisconsin
April Nowell ... Herself - University of Victoria
Ed Green ... Himself - University of California
Svante Pääbo ... Himself - Max Planck Institute - Leipzig (as Svante Paabo)
Joao Zilhao ... Himself - University of Barcelona - ICREA
Metin Eren ... Himself - University of Kent (as Metin I. Eren)
Wil Roebroeks ... Himself - Leiden University
Chris Stringer ... Himself - Natural History Museum, London
Thomas Wynn ... Himself - University of Colorado
Frederick Coolidge ... Himself - University of Colorado (as Frederick L. Coolidge)
Michael Walker ... Himself - University of Murcia

Episode Crew
Directed by
Nick Clarke Powell 
Produced by
Paula Apsell .... executive producer
Matthew Barrett .... producer
Tom Brisley .... executive producer
Laurie Cahalane .... coordinating producer
Patrick Carey .... associate producer
David Condon .... development producer
Julia Cort .... senior producer
Johanna Gibbon .... producer (as Johanna Woolford Gibbon)
Steve Murphy .... drama line producer
Pamela Rosenstein .... development producer
Chris Schmidt .... senior producer
Alison Turner .... executive producer
Melanie Wallace .... senior series producer
Original Music by
David Hamill 
Production Management
Patrick Carey .... post-production manager
Nathan Gunner .... post-production manager
Stephanie Mavropoulos .... production manager
Stephanie Mills .... production manager
Art Department
Tyler Howe .... senior designer
Sound Department
Danny Finn .... sound mixer
Hayden Jackson .... sound recordist
Steve Roseboom .... sound recordist
Visual Effects by
Mark Braithwaite .... digital compositor
Mark Braithwaite .... visual effects supervisor
Peter Duncan .... visual effects artist
Michael Gardiner .... matte painting
Steven Gomez .... visual effects producer
Camera and Electrical Department
Richard Numeroff .... camera operator
Chris Openshaw .... camera operator
Editorial Department
Michael H. Amundson .... post-production on-line editor
Ross Baker .... colorist
Chris Clark .... on-line editor
Tim De Chant .... digital editor
Brittany Flynn .... post-production assistant
Spencer Gentry .... post-production on-line editor
Alex Kreuter .... post-production editor
Rebecca Nieto .... post-production editor
Music Department
Ray Loring .... music theme
John Luker .... music theme
Rob Morsberger .... music theme
Walter Werzowa .... music theme
Other crew
Lauren Aguirre .... media director (as Lauren S. Aguirre)
Kristine Allington .... project coordinator
Kate Becker .... researcher
Elizabeth Benjes .... business manager
Linda Callahan .... production coordinator
Eileen Campion .... publicist
Rachel Connolly .... education director
Allison Eck .... production assistant
Linzy Emery .... compliance manager
Sarah Erlandson .... paralegal
Janice Flood .... talent relations
Brittany N. Flynn .... production assistant
Rachel Gesserman .... educational coordinator
Ivan Hadingham .... senior science editor
Dan Hart .... developer
Scott Kardel .... talent relations
Sarah Kinsella .... production coordinator
Karen Laverty .... publicist
Maiken Lilley .... educational coordinator
Victoria Louie .... publicist
Alan Ritsko .... managing director
Anna Rothschild .... production assistant
Camila Ruz .... researcher
Kristen Sommerhalter .... administrator
Rosie Waldron .... researcher
Jontxu Portusiano Hastalamedula .... special thanks
Klara Parmova .... special thanks

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
David Condon  development producer
Daniel Hart  developer
Mark Hobson  (episode "Orangutan - Man of the Forest")
Alan Kwan  developer
Lisa Leombruni  development associate
Tacita Morway  developer

Produced by
D.J. Roller .... producer (one episode)
Original Music by
James Yannatos 
Cinematography by
Sam Henriques (lighting cameraman) (multiple episodes)
D.J. Roller (multiple episodes)
Sound Department
G. John Garrett .... production sound mixer (multiple episodes) (1985-)
Rob Whitehurst .... sound recordist (1992-)
Other crew
Gary Martyn .... production assistant
Sallie McGuire Nicholas .... production assistant
DistributorsSpecial Effects

Additional Details

53 min
Sound Mix:


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Who were the Neanderthals and why did they disappear?, 20 July 2014
Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this program on Netflix streaming movies. The researchers started out just studying Neanderthals, and very simply seeing if they had the "speech" gene that modern humans have. The quest began with the task of finding some Neanderthal DNA from ancient bone samples.

The first big surprise was that Neanderthals actually had that gene, and further investigation showed that their DNA was not that different from what we know today as modern Homo Sapiens, us.

The further surprise was that modern human DNA contains generally from 1% to 4% of Neanderthal DNA, a result once thought to be impossible, because if they were different species then they could not mate and reproduce. But Neanderthal DNA present in modern humans forced them to rethink everything.

The final data compared percent Neanderthal DNA by country of origin, using quite a number of volunteers. The surprising result was that Europeans, the region where most Neanderthal artifacts have been found, along with Asians, have the highest percentages of Neanderthal DNA, leading to the conclusion that as Homo Sapiens (Latin for 'wise man') migrated 40,000 years ago into southern Europe, they encountered Neanderthals and actually mated with them to reproduce.

For years it has been thought that Neanderthals went extinct over an approximate 10,000 year period, killed off by the more intelligent Homo Sapiens. But this new research leads to a better conclusion, that Neanderthals, with their much smaller numbers, simply got absorbed into the general population, dominated by Homo Sapiens, over the generations.

This program is a great look into who the Neanderthals might have been and how they might have become extinct.

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