Homo neanderthalensis is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Neanderthals are classified either as a subspecies (or race) of modern humans (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or as a separate human species (Homo neanderthalensis).
The first proto-Neanderthal traits appeared in Europe as early as 350,000–600,000 years ago. Proto-Neanderthal traits are occasionally grouped to another phenetic 'species', Homo heidelbergensis, or a migrant form, Homo rhodesiensis.
By 130,000 years ago, complete Neanderthal characteristics had appeared. These characteristics then disappeared in Asia by 50,000 years ago and in Europe by about 30,000 years ago, with no further individuals having enough Neanderthal morphological traits to be considered as part of Homo neanderthalensis