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Good Reads  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution

The Naked Neanderthal

Popular Science New
By: Ludovic Slimak(Author), David Watson(Translated by)
191 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: Allen Lane
The Naked Neanderthal
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  • The Naked Neanderthal ISBN: 9781802061819 Paperback Apr 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
  • The Naked Neanderthal ISBN: 9780241617663 Hardback Sep 2023 In stock
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About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

What do we really know about our cousins, the Neanderthals?

For over a century we saw Neanderthals as inferior to Homo sapiens. More recently, the pendulum swung the other way and they are generally seen as our relatives: not quite human, but similar enough, and still not equal. Now, thanks to an ongoing revolution in palaeoanthropology in which he has played a key part, Ludovic Slimak shows us that they are something altogether different – and they should be understood on their own terms rather than by comparing them to ourselves. As he reveals in this stunning book, the Neanderthals had their own history, their own rituals, their own customs. Their own intelligence, very different from ours.

Slimak has travelled around the world for the past thirty years to uncover who the Neanderthals really were. A modern-day Indiana Jones, he takes us on a fascinating archaeological investigation: from the Arctic Circle to the deep Mediterranean forests, he traces the steps of these enigmatic creatures, working to decipher their real stories through every single detail they left behind.

A thought-provoking adventure story, written with wit and verve, The Naked Neanderthal shifts our understanding of deep history – and in the process reveals just how much we have yet to learn.

Originally published in 2022 in French as Néandertal Nu: Comprendre la Créature Humaine by Odile Jacob.

Customer Reviews


Ludovic Slimak is a paleoanthropologist at the University of Toulouse in France and Director of the Grotte Mandrin research project. His work focuses on the last Neanderthal societies and he is the author of several hundred scientific studies on these populations. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, The New York Times and more. The Naked Neanderthal was published to great acclaim in France in 2022.

Popular Science New
By: Ludovic Slimak(Author), David Watson(Translated by)
191 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: Allen Lane
Media reviews

"Neanderthal hunter Ludovic Slimak has dedicated decades to unearthing the mystery of our prehistoric ancestors. Now he has found a missing piece that radically reshapes our understanding – not just of the Neanderthals but of humanity itself"
– Michael Segalov, Observer

"With the style of a poet and imagination of a philosopher, Ludovic Slimak probes the minds of Neanderthals, our closest cousins. All too often Neanderthals are envisioned as either prehistoric brutes or full humans, but Slimak argues that they were something unique, a species that developed their own forms of consciousness and intelligence. In an age of artificial intelligence, this fun and provocative book is a reminder that we still have a lot to learn about biological intelligence"
– Steve Brusatte, author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

"A thrilling, bracing and scholarly introduction to modes of being and of paying attention to the world which are both akin to ours and importantly and revealingly different. We need urgently to consider less dysfunctional ways of occupying the cosmos and our own heads. The Neanderthals, speaking movingly and iconoclastically through Slimak, might be able to help"
– Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

"Ludovic Slimak provides a remarkable and well-informed account of the many facets of the lost Neanderthals. It shows us what it means to be human and allows us to better imagine what extraterrestrials might be like"
– Avi Loeb, author of Extraterrestrial

"Who were the Neanderthals, and what do we really know about their artefacts and tools, customs and culture? An eye-opening and refreshing account, full of surprising revelations and personal reflections from a researcher who has spent thirty years coming face-to-face with another human species"
– Lewis Dartnell, author of Being Human

"A fascinating, immensely enjoyable read by a brilliant and original thinker who has dedicated his working life to studying Neanderthals"
– Jonathan Kennedy, author of Pathogenesis

"Roaming through caves, digging through earth and rocks, and unearthing fossils, this adventurous, bearded archaeologist takes us from the Arctic Circle to Mediterranean forests in his search for the famous Neanderthal. His personal quest combined with the scientific argument gives the book its real weight. The writing is lively and the author deftly uses sarcasm and shock factor"
Les Echos

"A candid and uncompromising approach to a much-debated part of humanity's early history [...] Slimak immerses us in the daily life of a prehistoric archaeologist [...] a bold book"
– L'

"Ludovic Slimak takes us on an astonishing archaeological quest [...] he squarely confronts the myths surrounding this extinct species [...] This human 'creature' is the Neanderthal, of course. But it's us too, whose unexpected portrait emerges from this comparison across millennia"
Les Rencontres Philosophiques de Monaco

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