Tiny Matters

A science podcast about things small in size but big in impact. Every other Wednesday, join hosts Sam Jones and Deboki Chakravarti as they unpack the little things that make the big things in our world (both good and bad) possible.

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In the winter of 1829, Dutch-Belgian anthropologist Philippe-Charles Schmerling discovered a fossil in a cave in Engis, Belgium — what looked like the partial skull of a small child. Schmerling is often called the father of paleontology, but even he had no idea what he had stumbled upon. Decades later, as other similar fossils came to light, the significance of Schmerling’s finding became clear: it was the skull of a child Neanderthal. It was not only the first Neanderthal fossil ever uncovered — it was the first fossil to be recognized as early human.

Although Neanderthals died out around 40,000 years ago, advances in genetic sequencing have revealed that their DNA lives on in all of us today — in our immune systems, vulnerability to certain diseases and, as more recent work has found, the likelihood of being an early riser or "morning person."

In this episode, Sam and Deboki unpack the ancient human journey and the complicated web of relationships between ancient human species. Although Homo Sapiens are the only surviving humans today, for hundreds of thousands of years we were not alone.


Sam Jones, PhD

Sam Jones, PhD

Science Writer & Exec Producer

Deboki Chakravarti, PhD

Deboki Chakravarti, PhD

Science Writer & Co-Host

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