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Neanderthals were broad and stocky from birth

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.