Subscribe to Archaeology

Neanderthal Known as “Old Man of La Chapelle” Re-Examined

Friday, December 3, 2021

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND—According to a CNN report, researchers led by Martin Häusler of the University of Zurich think the Neanderthal individual known as the “Old Man of La Chapelle” may have suffered from brucellosis in addition to osteoarthritis. The symptoms of brucellosis include fever, muscular pain, and night sweats, and over time, arthritis pain, back pain, infertility, and endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart valves. Häusler thinks the man, who died between the ages of 50 and 60 some 50,000 years ago in central France, had a mild form of the disease since he lived into old age. Today, the disease is usually caused by consuming unpasteurized milk or cheese from infected goats or sheep, direct contact with infected animals, or inhaling airborne organisms. The inflammation observed on the bones of this Neanderthal man may have come from butchering or cooking infected wild sheep or cattle, bison, reindeer, hares, or marmots. Mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses, which were also animals hunted by Neanderthals, are unlikely to have carried the disease, Häusler explained, because it is rarely found in their living relatives today. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Scientific Reports. For more recent research on Neanderthals, go to "Neanderthal Hearing."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement