The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Neanderthals are now generally classified as a subspecies of Proto Modern Humans.
The first proto-Neanderthal traits appeared in Europe as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago. Proto-Neanderthal traits are occasionally grouped with another phenetic 'species', Homo heidelbergensis, or a migrant form, Homo rhodesiensis.
Genetic evidence suggests interbreeding took place with modern humans between roughly 80,000 and 50,000 years ago in the Middle East, resulting in 1–4% of the genome of people from Europe and Asia having been contributed by Neanderthals.
The youngest Neanderthal finds include Hyaena Den (UK), considered older than 30,000 years ago, while the Vindija (Croatia) Neanderthals have been re-dated to between 33,000 and 32,000 years ago. No definite specimens younger than 30,000 years ago have been found; however, evidence of fire by Neanderthals at Gibraltar indicate they may have survived there until 24,000 years ago. Cro-Magnon or early modern human skeletal remains with 'Neanderthal traits' were found in Lagar Velho (Portugal), dated to 24,500 years ago and interpreted as indications of interbreeding of populations.