Neanderthals were not stocky and stooped “macho” with pumped chest, and the owners of good posture and very large light, which is contrary to the classical notions of “cavemen”. This conclusion was made by scientists who restored the chest of Neanderthals and described it in the journal Nature Communications.
“The shape of the chest is crucial for understanding how Neanderthals moved, as it directly affects how well their lungs worked and how they kept the body in balance. Neanderthals are very similar to us culturally, but their appearance was noticeably different. Therefore, understanding the nature of these differences is extremely important for us, “said Patricia Kramer from the University of Washington in Seattle (USA).
Get out of the cave
For a long time, anthropologists and paleontologists believed that Neanderthals were noticeably inferior to the ancestors of people in cultural development, lacking the gift of speech, religion, and even the ability to kindle fire. Over the past five years, all these, as it turned out, myths have been successfully dispelled by new finds in Croatia, Israel and Spain.
For example, scientists recently discovered necklaces made by Neanderthals, various samples of Neanderthal rock art, and also found out that these ancient people collected stones, knew how to cook various decoctions to cure diseases and draw abstract tattoos, use “chemistry” to make fires and had enough complex funeral rites.
All this, as well as new data on the design of the nose, speech apparatus and other important parts of the body of Neanderthals, once again made scientists think about the difference between the ancient aborigines of Europe and Cro-Magnonite migrants, and why they died out.
Kramer and her colleagues dispelled another well-established myth about the appearance of ancient people, analyzing the remains of Moses, a Neanderthal man found in Kebar’s cave in Israel in 1983. Due to the unique conditions of burial, about the circumstances of which anthropologists still argue, its skeleton is preserved in an almost intact form. His discovery and analysis gave rise to a lot of controversy surrounding the anatomy of Homo neanderthalensis.
The fact is that this skeleton has an unusually narrow rib cage, unlike the wide bosom of its European relatives, who in general resembled modern champions in freestyle wrestling or other men’s sports.
Many anthropologists considered this discovery evidence that the remains of absolutely all Neanderthals were simply deformed and partially flattened during burial, which prevents the restoration of their appearance. Others have suggested that the northern and southern Homo neanderthalensis might look different due to the fact that the former lived in extremely harsh climatic conditions.
American anthropologists tried to resolve some of these disputes, for which they created a virtual copy of the skeleton of Moses and restored the lungs, chest and the whole body on its basis.
After scanning each bone with a three-dimensional scanner, the scientists compared the image with how similar parts of the body of modern people, including the surrounding soft tissues, look. Then they connected them to each other, “increased the meat” on the virtual skeleton of Moses and got a more or less believable portrait of this Neanderthal man.
Reconstruction showed that Neanderthals really differed in appearance from modern humans, but not in the way it had been thought before. In particular, their spine was not arched, but pressed in the direction of the chest, which was to ensure particularly good posture and stability when walking and running.
In addition, the chest itself was narrower and more compressed than in modern humans, and not at all like a flat and evenly wide “fighter’s chest”. It was compressed from above and expanded from below, which is completely uncharacteristic for humans and indicates a relatively large volume of lungs and an unusual breathing pattern.
“The wide lower part of the Neanderthal breast, as well as the horizontal position of their ribs, indicate that they breathed using only the diaphragm – their chest, unlike modern people, did not shrink and did not expand during exhalations and inhalations. How they used it’s not clear for its huge lungs, “added Ella Been from Tel Aviv University (Israel).
As Kramer concludes, the nature and role of these differences between modern humans and Neanderthals has yet to be revealed.