A study found that newborn Neanderthals actually possessed barrel-shaped ribs characteristic of older adults – a trait that allowed them to gain more body weight.
Researchers led by France carried out the first 3D reconstructions of four infants by scanning the fossilized remains.
The team found that the “nettles” of Neanderthals were born with shorter, deeper rib cages than those of modern humans.
A study found that newborn Neanderthals actually possessed barrel-shaped ribs characteristic of older adults – a trait that allowed them to gain more body weight. In the photo, the 3D reconstructions show the early development, or “ genesis, ” of the rib cage of a Neanderthal
“The specimens consistently contained shorter spines and deeper rib cages – regardless of their age at death,” said the paper’s author and anthropologist Daniel Garcia-Martinez of Purdue University.
The ages of Neanderthals were estimated to range from one to two weeks, less than four months, and a month and a half and two and a half, respectively, when they died.
Dr. Garcia Martinez and his colleagues scanned the trunks of quadrupeds – shedding new light on the distinct structure of the mysterious species that allowed them to take in breaths much deeper than modern humans can.
Focus on the chest – the area of the body that includes the rib cage, spine, heart cavity, and lungs – whose analysis can reveal information about endurance and balance.
Dr. Garcia Martinez explained: “When compared to the chest of modern humans, the chest of the adult Neanderthal was shorter, deeper and wider.”
These results are consistent with the theory that their lifestyle demands much greater requirements for both energy and oxygen.
Armed with spears and other weapons, Neanderthals hunted mammoths, woolly rhinos, deer, wild horses and extinct bulls called oxen as well as gigantic elephants with huge, straight tusks.
They would compete for these trophies against other predators such as hyenas and lions – and sometimes lost their lives in the process.
However, it was not previously clear whether their unusual bodies developed as they matured, or if they were actually present at birth.
Researchers led by France carried out the first 3D reconstructions of four infants by scanning the fossilized remains. Pictured: Reconstructed chest cages. The red bones are those in the fossil specimens, and reconstruct the blue mirror image of the bones themselves and the gray graded to fill in the gaps.
Since the remains of the first Neanderthals were found around 150 years ago, scientists have been debating the size and shape of their chest.
It was previously thought that our neanderthal cousins ’changed shape’ during childhood and adolescence.
“To delve into this question, we use virtual reconstruction tools and geometric morphometries to restore the three-dimensional structure of the thoracic cages of four Neanderthals from birth to approximately 3 years of age,” said Dr. Garcia Martinez.
“Our results indicate that the relatively deep and short rib cage of a Neanderthal was already present at birth – as was the case with other features of the skeleton.”
Neanderthals – after Homo erectus, another extinct species of humans – are thought to be among the first humans to walk standing.
Homo erectus evolved 2 million years ago – more than 1.5 million years before Neanderthals arrived on the scene.
“This is likely linked to significant energy requirements,” said Dr. Garcia-Martinez.
The enormous rib cage of Neanderthals may have been inherited – at least in part – from the ancestors of the early Pleistocene.
Since the remains of the first Neanderthals were found around 150 years ago, scientists have been debating the size and shape of their chest. In the photo, a model of an adult Neanderthal
Remarkably preserved skeletons have been excavated from inside caves in France, Russia and Syria. The most complete belongs to 18 months.
The team’s analysis found that the Neanderthals middle ribs were somewhat longer than those above and below them, while the spine was folded inward into the center of the body – creating a socket on the outside of the back.
The researchers compared the development of the rib cage of a Neanderthal during the first three years of its life with that of the rib cage of modern humans, based on a forensic evaluation of the remains of 29 individuals.
“Growth and development before and early after birth are essential to understanding the size and shape of adults in different anatomical regions,” said Dr. Garcia-Martinez.
He added, “This is due to the large number and high rate of changes that occur in the human body during those stages.”
The full results of the study have been published in the journal Science advances.
Neanderthals, a close relative of modern humans, became extinct 40,000 years ago
Neanderthals were a close ancestor of humans who mysteriously died about 40,000 years ago.
The species lived in Africa with early humans for thousands of years before moving to Europe about 300,000 years ago.
They were later joined by humans who entered Eurasia about 48,000 years ago.
Neanderthals were a close species to humans but not a direct ancestor – the two species separated from a common ancestor – that perished about 50,000 years ago. Pictured is an exhibition of the Neanderthal Museum
These were the original “cavemen”, who were historically thought to be foolish and brutal compared to modern humans.
Despite this, in recent years, and especially over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that we have been selling Neanderthals short.
A growing body of evidence points to a more sophisticated and multi-talented “caveman” than anyone would have thought.
Now Neanderthals seem to have told their dead, were buried, painted, and even intermarried with humans.
They used body art like dyes and beads, and were the first artists, as Neanderthal cave art (and symbolism) in Spain appears to predate the earliest modern human art by about 20,000 years.
It is believed that they hunted on the ground and did some hunting. However, it became extinct about 40,000 years ago after the success of Homo sapiens in Europe.