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Study Evaluates Body Shape of Neanderthal Children

Friday, October 9, 2020

Neanderthal Child Rib CageBURGOS, SPAIN—Paleobiologist Daniel García-Martínez of Spain’s National Research Center on Human Evolution and his colleagues suggest that Neanderthal babies were born with inward-curving spines and short, barrel-shaped chests to accommodate their large lungs, according to a Science News report. These characteristics 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 ranging in age from a couple of weeks to 2.5 years old. Their partial skeletons were 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 probably 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 have therefore evolved their longer legs, flatter rib cages, and other identifying features after the split from Neanderthals, by about 300,000 years ago. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. To read about new analysis of a Neanderthal child's tooth, go to "World Roundup: Iran."

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