Allele: Each of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome.
Anthropocentrism: A way of thinking that assumes humans are the most important species and leads to interpreting the world always through a human lens. Species-centric science and thought.
Cortex: The outside, or rough outer covering, of a rock. Usually the cortex is removed during the process of stone tool creation.
Ethnocentric: Applying negative judgments to other cultures based on comparison to one’s own.
Exogenous DNA: DNA that originates from sources outside of the specimen you are trying to sequence.
Flexed position: Fetal position, in which the legs are drawn up to the middle of the body and the arms are drawn toward the body center. Intentional burials are often found in the flexed body position.
Foraminifera: Microscopic single-celled organisms with a shell that are common in all marine environments. The fossil record of foraminifera extends back well over 500 million years.
Glaciation: A glacial period, or time when a large portion of the world is covered by glaciers and ice sheets.
Globular: Round-shaped, like a globe.
Grave goods: Items included with a body at burial. Items may signify occupation or hobbies, social status, or level of importance in the community, or they may be items believed necessary for the afterlife.
Haft: A handle. Also used as a verb—to attach a handle to an item, such as a stone tool.
Infraorbital foramina: Small holes on the maxilla bone of the face that allows nerves and blood to reach the skin.
Insular dwarfing: A form of dwarfism that occurs when a limited geographic region, such as an island, causes a large-bodied animal to be selected for a smaller body size.
Interglacial: A warmer period between two glacial time periods.
Levallois technique: A distinctive technique of stone tool manufacturing used by Archaic Homo sapiens, including Neanderthals. The technique involves the preparation of a core and striking edges off in a regular fashion around the core. Then a series of similarly sized pieces can be removed, which can then be turned into different tools.
Midfacial prognathism: A forward projection of the nose or the middle facial region. Usually associated with Neanderthals.
Mousterian tools: The stone tool industry of Neanderthals and their contemporaries in Africa and Western Asia. Mousterian tools are known for a diverse set of flake tools, which is different from the large bifacial tools of the Acheulean industry.
Nasal aperture: The opening for the nose visible on a skull. Often pear- or heart-shaped.
Occipital bun: A prominent bulge or projection on the back of the skull, specifically the occipital bone. This is a feature present only on Neanderthal skulls.
Ochre: A natural clay pigment mixed with ferric oxide and clay and sand. Ranges in color from brown to red to orange.
Retracted face: A face that is flatter.
Retromolar gap: A space behind the last molar and the end of the jaw. This is a feature present only on Neanderthals. It also occurs through cultural modification in modern humans who have had their third molars, or wisdom teeth, removed.