Study assesses body shape of Neanderthal children

BURGOS, SPAIN – Paleobiologist Daniel García-Martínez of Spain’s National Center for Research on Human Evolution and his colleagues suggest that Neanderthal babies were born with inward-curving spines and short, barrel-shaped chests to accommodate their big lungs, according to a Scientific News report. These features had previously only been noted in Neanderthal adults. To see if Neanderthal children shared the same stocky build or developed it as they grew, the researchers digitally reconstructed the rib cages of four Neanderthal children aged a few weeks to 2.5 years. Their partial skeletons have been found in France, Syria and Russia and dated to between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. “The stocky body shape of Neanderthals not only passed from parents to children, but also likely passed from ancestral species to their Neanderthal descendants,” García-Martínez concluded. This stocky build may have been inherited from homo erectus, he added. Modern humans may therefore have developed their longer legs, flatter ribcages and other identifying features after the Neanderthals split around 300,000 years ago. Read the original scientific article on this research in Scientists progress. For more on the new analysis of a Neanderthal child’s tooth, go to “World Roundup: Iran.”

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