Neanderthals were broad and stocky from birth


Comparison of baby Neanderthal skeletons to modern humans suggest infants resembled robust adults.


Neanderthals inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago. A new study of skeletons shows infants resembled adults.
PHILIPPE PLAILLY / GETTY IMAGES
Neanderthal infants' skeletons were wide and stocky, just like Neanderthal adults, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers from Europe, Russia and the US analysed width and length of arm, leg and pelvic bones from two neonate Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) skeletons: one from Mezmaiskaya in Russia and another from Le Moustier in France.

They then compared the measurements to recent skeletons of African and European-American babies of a comparable age.

Compared to modern human skeletons, the Neanderthals had large hips relative to thigh-bone length, suggesting they were stocky from birth. The Mezmaiskaya skeleton also had a longer pubis and wider long bones than modern baby skeletons.

In short, the baby Neanderthals looked like smaller versions of adults, the researchers write: "Neanderthals largely look like Neanderthals, regardless of age."

The work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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