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· Master of Scaremonies
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Neanderthals Were Cannibals, Study Confirms

Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.com 53 minutes ago

Neanderthals suffered periods of starvation and may have supplemented their diet through cannibalism, according to a study of remains from northwest Spain.

Paleobiologists studied samples from eight 43,000-year-old Neanderthal skeletons excavated from an underground cave in El Sidrón, Spain since 2000. The study sheds light on how Neanderthals lived before the arrival of modern humans in Europe.

Researchers found cut marks and evidence that bones had been torn apart, which they say could indicate cannibalism.

"There is strong evidence suggesting that these Neanderthals were eaten," said the study's lead author, Antonio Rosas of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid. "That is, long bones and the skull were broken for extraction of the marrow, [which] is very nutritious."

According to Rosas, there is evidence of cannibalism in Neanderthal remains from other European sites.

"I would say this practice… was general among Neanderthal populations," he said.

Teeth from the remains [image] showed evidence of periods of starvation or minimal nutrition, particularly during difficult life transitions like weaning or adolescence, according to Rosas.

Teeth grow by adding thin layers of enamel, but when some change in the natural development of the individual occurs, the enamel is deposited more slowly, or stops altogether, Rosas explained. Outside forces like climate or illness could also affect tooth growth, he said.

"So mostly harsh winters, together with physiological difficulties in the life history of these people may explain what we found," Rosas told LiveScience.

Rosas' team also noticed that southern Neanderthals had wider, flatter faces than northern Neanderthals. Exactly why this variation is seen is still a matter of debate, but according to Rosas the most likely explanation is adaptation to the climate.

· Master of Scaremonies
13,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Humans almost identical to Neanderthals
By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 22:00pm on 15th November 2006

We may like to think we're far superior to the Neanderthals species that us humans beat in the evolutionary battle. But analysis of DNA from a 38,000-year-old bone has revealed Neanderthal and human DNA is actually up to 99.9 per cent identical.
In contrast, humans and chimps only share 95 per cent of their genetic material. The discovery came as scientists work on decoding the entire Neanderthal genome from a perfectly-preserved artefect. Found in a cave in Croatia, the bone could hold the key to many of the secrets of evolution.

Dr Edward Rubin, one of the US and German researchers who have started to sequence the ancient DNA, said: 'We are at the dawn of Neanderthal genomics. 'This data will function as a DNA time machine and tell us aspects of biology we could never get from bones or associated artefacts. Fossil remains have already shown that Neanderthals looked different from us, with heavy brows, low foreheads, and receding chins. They were also much more robustly built than modern humans. A full blueprint of Neanderthal DNA - due to be produced in two years' time - could provide information on eye colour and hair colour, intelligence and language.

The partial sequencing completed so far has confirmed the theory that humans and Neanderthals split from their common ancestor between 400,000 and 500,000 years ago, studies published in the journals Nature and Science report. The two then co-existed for many thousands of years before Neanderthals became extinct around 30,000 years ago, perhaps beaten by their more innovative cousins in the race for food, clothing and shelter, It is thought they were unable to compete with the more innovative and adaptable **** sapiens for food, clothing and shelter.

While the studies did not find any evidence that the two populations interbred, the researchers were unable to completely rule out the idea. Dr Svante Paabo (CORR), of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, said: 'While unable to definitively conclude that interbreeding between the two species of humans did not occur, analysis of the nuclear DNA from the Neanderthal suggests the low likelihood of it having occurred at any appreciable level.' Co-researcher Professor Jonathan Pritchard, of the University of Chicago, said further analysis could provide more evidence of what makes us human

'Humans went through several key stages of evolution during the last 400,000 years,' he said. 'If we can compare humans and Neanderthal genomes, then we can possibly identify what the key genetic changes were during that final stage of human evolution.' Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, said: 'Research can now extend to complete the whole genome of a Neanderthal and to examine Neanderthal variation through time and space to compare with ours. 'Having such rich data holds the promise of looking for the equivalent genes in Neanderthals that code for specific features in modern humans, for example eye colour, skin and hair type, cognitive and language skills.' He added: 'Having a Neanderthal genome will also throw light on our own evolution, by allowing a three-way comparison of the genetic blueprints that produced Neanderthals, and that today produce us and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. 'We should then be able to pin down unique changes in each genome to show how we came to be different from each other.'

Asked to forecast the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the next 50 years, they said the development of anti-aging drugs will allow us to live to a sprightly 100. Professor Richard Miller, of the University of Michigan, said: 'It is now routine in laboratory mammals to extend lifespan by about 40 per cent. 'Turning on the same protective system in humans should, by 2056, create the first class of centenarians who are as vigorous and productive as today's run-of-the-mill sexagenarians.' Advances in storing both eggs and ovarian tissue will allow women to give birth into old age, while technology that allows us to read the minds of animals will lead to mass vegetarianism.
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