Neanderthals: New Findings & Theories

Coal

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The samples displayed several episodes of injury and recovery, suggesting that Neanderthals must have had a well-developed system of care in order to survive.
That rather feels like the old adage 'they knew how to build house 200 years ago as they's still standing today'.

Of course the rubbish houses have long gone, and in the same way we're looking at survivors and inferring that there were some survivors, doesn't mean they had anything other than rudimentary care for each other, such as feeding someone who can't hunt at the moment.
 

Mikefule

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That rather feels like the old adage 'they knew how to build house 200 years ago as they's still standing today'.

Of course the rubbish houses have long gone, and in the same way we're looking at survivors and inferring that there were some survivors, doesn't mean they had anything other than rudimentary care for each other, such as feeding someone who can't hunt at the moment.
Good point well made.

It's similar with music: "The [preferred decade] had all the great pop music; most of this modern pop music is rubbish."

Yes, most modern pop music is rubbish, and most of the pop music in the preferred decade was rubbish, but the best few songs have become established as classics. The fact that the good survives does not preclude that a lot of bad was lost. No doubt many Neanderthals died slow painful deaths from injuries, and no doubt many buildings from 200 years ago needed demolishing about 100 years ago.
 

James_H

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Yes, most modern pop music is rubbish, and most of the pop music in the preferred decade was rubbish, but the best few songs have become established as classics. The fact that the good survives does not preclude that a lot of bad was lost. No doubt many Neanderthals died slow painful deaths from injuries, and no doubt many buildings from 200 years ago needed demolishing about 100 years ago.
Look at any top ten from the 1960s and it's full of absolute toss, with the odd Hendrix or Beatles number in there too.
 
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Not so burly after all.

Though humans often consider ourselves far more evolved and refined than Neanderthals, new research has shown we have a lot common with our stocky, hairy cousins in terms of behavior and development. Now, scientists say Neanderthals’ thoraxes—the cozy cavities enclosed by the ribs, breastbone, and spine—might actually have been the same size as ours, not larger, as was previously assumed.

The size and shape of the thorax—which contains the lungs, heart, and other precious organs—holds important clues about human evolution, including posture, gait, and lung capacity. But it has been tough for researchers to analyze Neanderthal torsos because ribs and spines are fragile, and therefore scarce in the fossil record.

So, a team of researchers took the skeleton with the most complete thorax, called Kebara 2, and sent it through a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Next, the researchers used visualization software to create a 3D virtual model of the torso, which they then compared with CT scans of 16 modern men around the same height as the fossil.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2018-10-30&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2458707
 

Mikefule

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Haha! I read the article and followed links and ended up reading about "Rockism" which is a pejorative term for the set of beliefs that rock music played with real guitars and drums, and written by the artists, is inherently better than mass produced and ephemeral pop music. What made me chuckle is that the opposite faction (pro-pop, anti-rock) is called the "poptimists".

Jeez, with the world economy on the brink of collapse, an expansionist Russia, an isolationist USA, mass migrations threatened from Africa into Europe, a clash of bronze age, iron age and mediaeval religions threatening the largely secularist ideals of the west, and the seas so full of plastic that there is a potential living to be made recycling dolphins into Lego bricks, we now have to contend with meaningless clashes between the devotees of rockism and poptimism.

Still as a healthy white atheist married heterosexual male with no dependent children, I might at last acquire a "protected characteristic" under anti discrimination laws: I love rock & roll*. :D

*... so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
 
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And kids today think they have it hard.

Neanderthal children shivered and suffered in ancient Europe
By Ann Gibbons Oct. 31, 2018 , 2:05 PM

Pity the poor Neanderthal mother: She had to nurse her children through colder winters and more illnesses than the mothers of most prehistoric modern humans in Europe, according to a new study of the teeth of two Neanderthal kids who lived 250,000 years ago in France. And both Neanderthal toddlers suffered from repeated lead exposure—the earliest known evidence of lead poisoning in members of the human family. The study offers a startlingly intimate view of the lives of ancient children.

The study is “mind blowing” because it gives such a detailed record of how harsh winters, the water supply, and nursing duration can influence growth in early childhood, says paleoanthropologist Leslea Hlusko of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not part of the team. The researchers “provide powerful insight into some of the most intimate moments of life—the relationship between the Neanderthal as a baby and its mama.” ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/neanderthal-children-shivered-and-suffered-ancient-europe
 

Kingsize Wombat

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The Neanderthal narrative keeps on shifting and changing:

The Myth Of the Traumatized Neanderthal
Contrary to popular belief, they weren’t exceptionally prone to head injuries, and certainly no more so than early humans.


But in a new study—the largest of its kind—Katerina Harvati and her colleagues at the University of Tübingen have shown that head injuries really weren’t that common in Neanderthals, and certainly no more so than in contemporaneous Homo sapiens. “This implies that Neanderthal trauma does not require its own special explanations, and that risk and danger were as much a part of the life of Neanderthals as they were of our own evolutionary past,” writes Marta Mirazon Lahr from the University of Cambridge, in an accompanying editorial.

By combing through previous studies, Harvati’s colleague Judith Beier compared the skulls of 114 Neanderthals and 90 modern humans, all of whom lived in Europe and Asia between 20,000 and 80,000 years ago. (The term “modern human” here refers to Homo sapiens, rather than present-day people.) She estimated that between 4 and 33 percent of Neanderthals would have had some kind of head injury, compared with 2 to 34 percent of contemporaneous modern humans.


https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/11/myth-traumatized-neanderthal/575776/
 

gerhard1

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There is a photograph of what David Hatcher Childress claims is a Neanderthal in his Lost Cities book on Africa. If memory serves, the person in the photograph was said to be from Morocco, so it could be the gentleman referred to in the OP.
 
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Hopefully some interesting analysis will emerge from the Cambridge workshop.

New remains discovered at site of famous Neanderthal ‘flower burial’
By Elizabeth CulottaJan. 22, 2019 , 3:45 PM

For tens of thousands of years, the high ceilings, flat earthen floor, and river view of Shanidar Cave have beckoned to ancient humans. The cave, in the Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq, once sheltered at least 10 Neanderthals, who were unearthed starting in the 1950s. One skeleton had so many injuries that he likely needed help to survive, and another had been dusted with pollen, suggesting someone had laid flowers at the burial. The rare discovery ushered in a new way of thinking about Neanderthals, who until then had often been considered brutes. “Although the body was archaic, the spirit was modern,” excavator Ralph Solecki wrote of Neanderthals, in Science, in 1975. But some scientists doubted the pollen was part of a flower offering, and others questioned whether Neanderthals even buried their dead.

In 2014, researchers headed back to Shanidar to re-excavate, and found additional Neanderthal bones. Then, last fall, they unearthed another Neanderthal with a crushed but complete skull and upper thorax, plus both forearms and hands. From 25 to 28 January, scientists will gather at a workshop at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to discuss what the new finds suggest about Neanderthal views of death. Science caught up with archaeologist and team co-leader Christopher Hunt of Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom to learn more.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-01-22&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2614215
 
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Interesting new info about our cousins.

Neanderthals were dangerous—even at a distance. A new study suggests they might have been able to nail prey with their pointy spears from up to 20 meters away.

Scientists know our archaic cousins stabbed prey at close range. But past experiments suggested Neanderthal-style spears—about 2 meters long and probably weighing a bit less than a kilogram—were too heavy to throw with the force and accuracy required for hunting. Those experiments relied on humans who were often first-time spear throwers, however.

So in the new study, researchers recruited the next best thing to experienced Neanderthal spear hunters: trained javelin throwers, who hurled replicas of a 300,000-year-old Neanderthal spear at hay bales from various distances. It wasn’t an easy task: The athletes hit the target only 25% of the time when it was 10 meters away. But they achieved the same 25% accuracy at 15 meters, and even managed to hit the target 17% of the time at 20 meters—double the range at which scientists thought a hand-thrown spear could be useful for hunting, the team reports today in Scientific Reports.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-01-25&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2620501
 

Ibis

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[SIZE=4 said:
New remains discovered at site of famous Neanderthal ‘flower burial’[/SIZE]
By Elizabeth CulottaJan. 22, 2019 , 3:45 PM

For tens of thousands of years, the high ceilings, flat earthen floor, and river view of Shanidar Cave have beckoned to ancient humans. The cave, in the Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq, once sheltered at least 10 Neanderthals, who were unearthed starting in the 1950s. One skeleton had so many injuries that he likely needed help to survive, and another had been dusted with pollen, suggesting someone had laid flowers at the burial. The rare discovery ushered in a new way of thinking about Neanderthals, who until then had often been considered brutes. “Although the body was archaic, the spirit was modern,” excavator Ralph Solecki wrote of Neanderthals, in Science, in 1975. But some scientists doubted the pollen was part of a flower offering, and others questioned whether Neanderthals even buried their dead.

In 2014, researchers headed back to Shanidar to re-excavate, and found additional Neanderthal bones. Then, last fall, they unearthed another Neanderthal with a crushed but complete skull and upper thorax, plus both forearms and hands.
Has anyone considered the possibility that Shanidar Cave is really a mass grave of genocide victims, with pollen having been used to hex one of the deceased and prevent him/her rising from the grave to wreak vengeance on the murderers? That would account for the awful injuries, and reassert the previous theory that Neanderthals weren't culturally sophisticated enough to use flowers as symbols linked to death. Just sayin'. :crazy:
 

EnolaGaia

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Wouldn't using pollen as a preventive hex require at least as much abstract symbolic association as linking flowers to death?

Also ... Pollen is reputed to be a powerful medicine in some historical / alternative medical traditions. Could the one body dusted with pollen be exhibiting traces of treatment rather than interment?
 

Mikefule

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Has anyone considered the possibility that Shanidar Cave is really a mass grave of genocide victims, with pollen having been used to hex one of the deceased and prevent him/her rising from the grave to wreak vengeance on the murderers? That would account for the awful injuries, and reassert the previous theory that Neanderthals weren't culturally sophisticated enough to use flowers as symbols linked to death. Just sayin'. :crazy:
There were 10 sets of Neanderthal remains in the cave of which:
  • Only 4 had signs of serious injury
  • 1 had worked flint tools deposited on or near the body, which appear to be signs of some sort of burial custom
  • Only 1 had pollen deposits. If this were a "genocide" then surely all 10 would have been treated the same.
  • Several had signs of long term injury or degenerative disease, implying that they had been looked after or treated by their "tribe".
The Wikipedia article says the Neanderthal remains date "from 35,000 to 65,000 years ago." If the dating is that uncertain, then we certainly can't say they were all deposited there following a single incident.

The same cave also contains two later sets of burials of a total of 35 Homo sapiens.

I cannot see that leaving flowers with a corpse would be more culturally sophisticated than dusting with pollen to hex someone to prevent them from rising from the grave to wreak vengeance. The "hex" hypothesis requires us to assume:
  • That they had concept of genocide, or at least of murder, as distinct from simple killing.
  • That they had a concept of revenge.
  • That they had a concept of living (or returning) after death.
  • That they had a concept of magic that could prevent the dead from rising or returning.
  • That this magic involved flowers or pollen.
On the other hand, the leaving of flowers would require them only to associate leaving beautiful things as an expression of sadness.

That said, it seems likely that the pollen and seeds were carried in later by small animals.
 

Ibis

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Okay, okay, to clarify my facetious comment, here is how my silly mind was working:
The ones who committed the genocide were the ones who became dominant, us, the homo sapiens, and we are the culturally sophisticated ones. That's why we won. (At least, we are mostly homo sapiens with a little sprinkling of Neanderthal, which gives us freckles). The four Neanderthal with injuries were the warriors, the one buried with all the flint blades was the toughest of the warriors and the last one standing, the uninjured ones then died of grief, and the one with the pollen was the shaman, who was the only one with the power to come back from the dead. So there ya go. Don't ask me why I process the news this way (this is the only reason I can think of why I would posit genocide as a facetious hypothesis), just be glad I never went into archeology or anthropology or news casting. :wink2:
 

Comfortably Numb

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Neanderthals walked upright just like the humans of today

Neanderthals are often depicted as having straight spines and poor posture. However, these prehistoric humans were more similar to us than many assume. University of Zurich researchers have shown that Neanderthals walked upright just like modern humans -- thanks to a virtual reconstruction of the pelvis and spine of a very well-preserved Neanderthal skeleton found in France.

An upright, well-balanced posture is one of the defining features of Homo sapiens. In contrast, the first reconstructions of Neanderthals made in the early 20th century depicted them as only walking partially upright. These reconstructions were based on the largely preserved skeleton of an elderly male Neanderthal unearthed in La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France.


In depth:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190225170236.htm
 
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blessmycottonsocks

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Just watched part 1 of the BBC programme Neanderthal - Meet Your Ancestors.
Very good overall (albeit annoying that the presenter kept pronouncing what should be the silent H in Neanderthal). Came to the conclusion that they were much more like modern humans than previously thought. The painstakingly reconstructed 40,000 year old "Ned" would barely merit a second glance, if he passed you in the street (and was groomed and dressed in modern clothes of course).
Looking forward to part 2.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Part 2 of Meet Your Ancestors was pretty good too and focused mainly on the DNA and evdence for interaction between Neanderthals and other humans.
I already knew that most people of European origin have 2.5% or so of Neanderthal DNA, but what I didn't know was that we don't all have the same %. So, in a large enough pool of Europeans, there could be a collection of over 70% of Neanderthal DNA scattered amongst them. This led onto a discussion about how easy (and ethical) it would be to recreate a Neanderthal. I couldn't help speculating at this point that, if actor Ron Perlman and news presenter Beth Rigby had a child together, how Neanderthal it would look!
The murder-mystery whudunnit evidence for a Neanderthal killed by a spear thrown by a modern human was fascinating and convincing (and I must admit I found statuesque paleoanthropologist Libby Cowgill compelling to watch!).
One statement made in the programme, that I questioned, was that the only extant humans known not to have any Neanderthal DNA are Sub-Saharan Africans. I thought that Australian Aborigines had Denisovan DNA rather than any Neanderthal?
Overall, whilst slightly whimsical at times, these were two very watchable programmes, well worth checking out on your BBC iPlayer.
 
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Neanderthals also hunted and may have revered golden eagles.

The golden eagle has been hunted and revered by human cultures for thousands of years.

Yet this may not have been a uniquely human devotion—Neanderthals, too, may have targeted these impressive birds of prey some 130,000 years ago, according to new research. What’s more, modern humans may have learned their eagle-catching techniques from their hominin cousins.

With its luminous auburn feathers and massive 2.2-meter wingspan, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is associated with solar deities in religions around the world, from Native American traditional belief systems to Roman and Greek mythologies.

A family team of anthropologists wanted to find out whether Neanderthals were part of that heritage. Eagle bones and talons have been found across dozens of sites in central and western Europe occupied by both Neanderthals and modern humans. So the researchers combed through the literature on 154 Neanderthal-associated sites to see whether golden eagle remains stood out in any way.

Although rock dove and raven remains were the most numerous birds, the remains of golden eagles were also present at 26 sites. Cut marks along the wing bones—where golden eagles have little meat—suggest Neanderthals carefully extracted the feathers, the researchers report in Quaternary Science Reviews. Additional cuts to the birds’ leg and foot bones suggest their claws and talons were also delicately separated from the rest of their bodies.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2019-04-26&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2788350
 
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The split was even further back.

People and Neandertals separated from a common ancestor more than 800,000 years ago — much earlier than many researchers had thought.

That conclusion, published online May 15 in Science Advances, stems from an analysis of early fossilized Neandertal teeth found at a Spanish site called Sima de los Huesos. During hominid evolution, tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate, says Aida Gómez-Robles, a paleoanthropologist at University College London. The Neandertal teeth, which date to around 430,000 years ago, could have evolved their distinctive shapes at a pace typical of other hominids only if Neandertals originated between 800,000 and 1.2 million years ago, she finds.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article...tm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest_Headlines
 
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