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Who Were the Cavemen and When Did They Live?

who were cavemen

If you study cavemen in a typical textbook, you’ll see photos of creatures who look like a mixture of humans and apes. You’ll also see them described as “primitive humans” who lived in caves, hunted, made crude tools and drawings, and went extinct around 40,000 years ago.

Or so the story goes.

The first discovery of caveman remains was in 1856 in Germany. Quarry workers stumbled across a Neanderthal fossil in a cave near the Neander Valley. Since then, people have been fascinated by these ancient humans.

But who were the cavemen really? When did they live? Does the Bible have anything to say about them? Let’s look at these questions in depth for sound, Bible-based answers.

Who Were the Cavemen?

The term “caveman” is often used to refer to all different kinds of people who lived during the Ice Age. This includes at least five known groups, according to Dr. David Menton and John UpChurch:


The most well-known of the groups, Neanderthals were once thought to be more closely related to apes than to humans. DNA testing, though, has disproved this theory. Furthermore, recent discoveries of Neanderthals’ tools and rituals (including burials) are much more “modern” than previously thought.

Although their bodies were slightly shorter and their brains were larger, Neanderthals were fully human.

Cro-Magnon Man

Discovered in Europe, Cro-Magnon Man—also known as early Homo sapiens—had a high forehead, narrow brow ridge, and protruding chin. These people had a stocky build and larger brains, but they still looked much like humans do today.

Homo erectus

Fossils of Homo erectus have been found in Africa, Europe, and Asia and are considered to be the earliest known human remains. The skull looks very unique with a high brow ridge and a receding chin. From the neck down, though, the skeleton looks exactly like ours.


A discovery in Russia’s Denisova Cave revealed an unusually large tooth and a finger bone. This indicates that the Denisovans, who lived around the same time as the Neanderthals, had unique facial features.

Homo floresiensis

This group is also referred to as “hobbits” because of their unusually small size. At about 3 feet tall, Homo floresiensis lived on the Indonesian island of Flores. These people are most similar to Homo erectus on Java, which indicates Homo floresiensis might have built boats strong enough to fight the intense current in order to reach Flores.

When Did Cavemen Live?

Evolutionists say these various people groups lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. But according to a biblical worldview, they lived only a few thousand years ago.

The earliest human remains were found in Ice Age deposits near Babel, according to Dr. Andrew Snelling and Mike Matthews. Deposits from the middle of the Ice Age show human remains of various types across three separate continents. These variations disappeared by the end of the Ice Age, when humans are thought to have reached the Americas based on fossil findings.

This makes sense according to God’s Word. After the Tower of Babel in about 2250 B.C., mankind dispersed and began spreading throughout the entire world. That’s why we find various people groups on different continents.

Why Did Cavemen Look Different From Humans Today?

The Bible indicates that God made humans with a lot more genetic diversity than we see today. After all, 1 Samuel 17:4 tells us that Goliath was around 9 feet tall. So it makes sense that 3-foot-tall humans like Homo floresiensis also existed.

According to what we find in the fossil record, it appears that these people groups with unique characteristics died off during or shortly after the Ice Age, which likely occurred soon after the Tower of Babel. The surviving people groups continued to populate the earth, which is why humans look the way they do today.

Why did cavemen go extinct? Well, no one knows for sure. But the extremely harsh climate during the Ice Age could have limited some people groups’ access to food and water. It’s also possible that being cut off from other people forced them to inbreed, creating major genetic problems that led to extinction.

Learn More About Early Man According to the Bible

God created the first two human beings around 6,000 years ago. Since then, humans have spread around the world and diversified.

What do we know about humans during the first 2,000 years after creation? Let’s explore early man from a biblical perspective at Answers TV!

The Uniqueness of Man

British engineer Stuart Burgess describes some of the many unique design features of man, including arched feet, facial expressions, skillful hands, fine skin, intricate language, and an amazingly powerful brain.

The Evolving Ape-Man: Dividing Fact From Fiction

How has the ape-man story changed over time? Is this idea driven by neutral evidence or the bias of people committed to naturalism? Bryan Osborne takes on one of the sacred cows of atheism.