Neanderthals varied in appearance across Europe.

Paleobiology and comparative morphology of a late Neandertal sample from El Sidrón, Asturias, Spain

Fossil evidence from the Iberian Peninsula is essential for understanding Neandertal evolution and history. Since 2000, a new sample ≈43,000 years old has been systematically recovered at the El Sidrón cave site (Asturias, Spain). Human remains almost exclusively compose the bone assemblage. All of the skeletal parts are preserved, and there is a moderate occurrence of Middle Paleolithic stone tools. A minimum number of eight individuals are represented, and ancient mtDNA has been extracted from dental and osteological remains. Paleobiology of the El Sidrón archaic humans fits the pattern found in other Neandertal samples: a high incidence of dental hypoplasia and interproximal grooves, yet no traumatic lesions are present. Moreover, unambiguous evidence of human-induced modifications has been found on the human remains. Morphologically, the El Sidrón humans show a large number of Neandertal lineage-derived features even though certain traits place the sample at the limits of Neandertal variation. Integrating the El Sidrón human mandibles into the larger Neandertal sample reveals a north–south geographic patterning, with southern Neandertals showing broader faces with increased lower facial heights. The large El Sidrón sample therefore augments the European evolutionary lineage fossil record and supports ecogeographical variability across Neandertal populations

Essentially..  The skeletal remains also revealed that these Neanderthals possessed a different bone structure than individuals found elsewhere in Europe. It appears that Neanderthals fell into at least two basic ethnic groups that coincided with their north-south geographical distribution.
Southern Neanderthals from the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkans, the Middle East and Italy had broader and shorter faces than northern Neanderthals from populations living north of the Pyrenees, the Alps, portions of Asia and central and eastern Europe, Rosas and his team determined.

 So, similar to the way modern Europeans vary from North to South.


2 responses to “Neanderthals varied in appearance across Europe.

  1. Aren’t modern reconstructions giving a too low face/too large forehead to Neanders? Comparing with their actual skulls, they seem just way “too human”. They should have much more narrow foreheads, higher faces and probably also more marked prognathism and browridges in most cases. If in the past we ridiculized Neanders maybe, now it seems we are idealizing them to our image.

    Just look at the super-white Gibraltar kid. I doubt you can find a sigle modern human in that area with that extremely Nordic pygmentation. And while climate may have changed and while some Neanders were apparently redhairs, overall solar radiation has not probably changed much: therefore people in southern Iberia could never afford to be so extremely depygmented.

  2. Matilda: I enjoyed reading your articles. I just have a BA in Anthropology, but I am extremely interested in Neanderthals. I tried to buy books but It is very hard to find. Could you recommend books? Hilda

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