May 19, 2005
Neanderthal News

The Post this morning carried this report on a new set of fossils "rekindling" the debate over what, exactly, happened to the Neanderthals in Europe. For whatever reason, they died out approximately 30,000 years ago, and the fossils in question have been firmly dated at exactly that time. What makes them interesting is their apparently strange mix of early-modern and Neatherthal features. Could these be evidence of interbreeding? Or perhaps their appearance was influenced by diet or behaivor?* The answer, as usual, is not particularly clear.

* A diet that requires a lot of heavy-duty chewing will result in a much "heavier" face (brow ridges, receding chins, occipital protrubrances, etc.) while the opposite results in a comparatively "gracile" appearance. Likewise, a life of heavy lifting and hard work will produce a skeleton noticeably more robust than what would be found in a more sedentary population.

Posted by scott at May 19, 2005 12:09 PM

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