The growth pattern of Neandertals, reconstructed from a juvenile skeleton from El Sidrón (Spain)
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Ontogenetic studies help us understand the processes of evolutionary change. Previous studies on Neandertals have focussed mainly on dental development and inferred an accelerated pace of general growth. We report on a juvenile partial skeleton (El Sidrón J1) preserving cranio-dental and post cranial remains. Age at death was estimated at 7.7 years using dental histology. Maturation of most elements fell within the expected range of modern humans at this age. The exception was the atlas and mid-thoracic vertebrae, that remained at the 5-6-year stage. Furthermore, endocranial features suggest brain growth was not yet completed. The vertebral maturation pattern and extended brain growth most likely reflect Neandertal physiology and ontogenetic energy constraints, rather than any fundamental difference in the overall pace of growth in this extinct human.
AuthorsRosas, A; Rios, L; Estalrrich, A; Liversidge, HM; Garcia-Tabernero, A; Huguet, R; Cardoso, H; Bastir, M; Lalueza-Fox, C; De la Rasilla, M; Dean, MC
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