230 — The growth pattern of Neandertals, reconstructed from a juvenile skeleton from El Sidrón (Spain)

Rosas & Ríos et al (10.1126/science.aan6463)

Read on 07 April 2018
#anthropology  #neanderthal  #growth  #skeleton  #humans  #paleoanthropology 

These researchers found the skeleton of a seven-year-old Neanderthal in El Sidrón in Spain. I mean the boy was seven, not the skeleton. The skeleton is really old.

From the structure of the skeleton, dentition, and bones, it was possible to both pinpoint the age of the individual when he died, as well as learn a little bit about the growth speed and maturation of Neanderthals.

Among the many discoveries, the researchers discovered that Neanderthals grew for slightly longer than their modern-human cousins: The bone fusion of the atlas vertebra appears to take place around two years later in this Neanderthal than in modern humans, and it also seems tbat this individual grew more per year. Furthermore, cranial fusion was not yet complete, suggesting that the brain was not yet fully grown.

This makes me think that the energy requirements to grow a large body detracted from the energy requirements of growing a big brain: Though the brain would eventually be bigger in Neanderthals than in modern humans, it seems that the juveniles devoted their brain-growth energy-allocation over more time than MH do.