Fact Check- Image does not show ‘last Neanderthal giant’

A fabricated image of a giant man towering above a crowd of people is being shared alongside false claims that it shows the “last Neanderthal giant”, but the image was likely generated using artificial intelligence, experts said. All evidence from the skeletons and DNA of Neanderthals, the closest relatives of early humans, indicates they were not giants.

A Facebook post sharing the image states: “This is the last know human Giant Neanderthal!” and adds that Neanderthals “died out” thousands of years ago, so “no Neanderthal's DNA is found in modern times” (here).

The photo has been circulated on Twitter as well (here) (

Neanderthals are the closest extinct human relatives, and hundreds of sets of their skeletal remains have been unearthed in Europe and Eurasia showing that they were small compared with modern humans: “Their bodies were shorter and stockier than ours, another adaptation to living in cold environments,” the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History explained in a blog article (here).

Contrary to the online claims, Neanderthal DNA has been extracted from these skeletal remains and analysed extensively. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 2022 to Svante Pääbo for work done while at the Max Planck Institute in Germany to extract and study the DNA of Neanderthals, which led, among other things, to the discovery that Neanderthal DNA is present in the genomes of modern humans as well (here).

Comparative analyses by Pääbo and his colleagues showed that “DNA sequences from Neanderthals were more similar to sequences from contemporary humans originating from Europe or Asia than to contemporary humans originating from Africa” according to an article by the Nobel Organisation which awards the prizes (here ).

This indicates that, “Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred during their millennia of coexistence. In modern day humans with European or Asian descent, approximately 1-4% of the genome originates from the Neanderthals,” the article states.

The earliest version of the image of a purported “Neanderthal giant” that Reuters could find appears on the official subreddit for Midjourney, an AI-based system that generates images based on text prompts entered by users (

Experts told Reuters that the image shows indications of having been generated by AI.

Lack of “correct detail” in the faces is a common marker in AI-generated images, Andrew Chen, research fellow at the Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland (here), told Reuters in an email. Faces in the image “are not just blurry, but distorted,” he explained.

Ricardo Baeza-Yates, director of research at the Experiential AI Institute at Northeastern University (, also reviewed the image for Reuters and highlighted a few other problems with it, such as backgrounds with different contrast, variable resolution, missing eyes, and shadows that are not consistent.

Midjourney and the reddit user who posted the image did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.


False. The image does not show the last Neanderthal giant, it is likely AI-generated.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work (here).