Cover Stories from The Last Neanderthal
series "Intersezioni"
pp. 232, Brossura, 978-88-15-29413-5
publication year 2021


Stories from The Last Neanderthal

Tales from Before History

“I am sitting on a large limestone boulder facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. Behind me lies the cave of Cape Circeo, frequented by Neanderthals, where we have been working for decades...” With these words begins a dream, an imaginary encounter between a paleoanthropologist and the last of the Neanderthals. The former shares his scientific skills with his exceptional companion, describing his group’s origin, biological traits, and behaviours. The latter tests them against the life he has lived and the emotions he has experienced. The end result is the fascinating story of a species which is similar to humans’, but also profoundly different due to hundreds of millennia of evolutionary separation. But this is not just a story of competition. Genetic proximity facilitated crossbreeding, which has left enduring traces in the Homo sapiens genome. Today, thanks to fossil remains and the DNA extracted from them, we know that Neanderthals are still here: together with us in deep time and part of us forever.

Giorgio Manzi teaches Anthropology at the Sapienza University in Rome, where he heads the Giuseppe Sergi Anthropology Museum. He was formerly the general secretary of the Italian Paleontology Institute and the director of the Sapienza Museum System.

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Prologo (una storia impossibile)
I. Viaggiare, forse sognare
II. L’incontro
Inferiore, medio e superiore
III. Io sì che c’ero
Dopo i dinosauri
Scimmie bipedi
Un cervello a-b-normal
IV. Selezione sessuale
Maschi e femmine
Sesso, parliamone
Predatori di carcasse
Emigranti per fame
V. Neanderthal
Breve storia di un debutto
Come riconoscere un Neanderthal
Non di solo cranio…
VI. Una rivoluzione
Distanze genetiche
DNA, antico però
Denisova: basta la parola
VII. L’estinzione
Comportamenti quasi «moderni»
Che vuol dire avere la testa rotonda
Sapiens il conquistatore
La dura legge del West
VIII. Commiato: viaggio in Italia
Neanderthal a Roma
Una suggestione fatale
Lo scheletro nella roccia
Ritorno al monte Circeo
Epilogo (un’icona pop)