Neanderthal Children Were Large, Sturdy : Discovery News   Leave a comment

Neanderthals

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Neanderthal Children Were Large, Sturdy : Discovery News.

via Neanderthal Children Were Large, Sturdy : Discovery News.

Neanderthal youngsters that made it to the “terrible two’s” were large, sturdy and toothy, suggests a newly discovered Neanderthal infant. The child almost survived to such an age, but instead died when it was just one and a half years old.

The remains of this infant — a lower jaw and teeth unearthed in a Belgian cave — are the youngest Neanderthal ever found in northwest Europe, according to a study that will appear in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Since the remains of two adults were also previously discovered in the cave, the fossil collection may represent a Neanderthal family.

If the trio said “cheese” for a family portrait, their smiles would have been hard to miss, since Neanderthal front teeth were larger than those for modern humans.

When the infant died, “he already possessed Neanderthal characteristics, notably a strong mandibular corpus (toothy part of the lower jaw),” lead author Isabelle Crevecoeur told Discovery News.

Crevecoeur is a director of anthropological research at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in France.

She and her colleagues analyzed the Neanderthal child’s remains, found at Spy Cave in Jemeppe-sur-Sambre, Belgium. The cave is part of a rock shelter located close to a small river, the Orneau.

“Its location on the bottom of the cliff that overhangs the valley was probably really advantageous with a clear view of the valley,” Crevecoeur said.

Neanderthals started to use the cave around 44,000 years ago. The newly discovered infant, however, lived there about 33,000 years ago, suggesting Neanderthal groups persisted in this area over the millennia.

 

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