Neanderthals have played a huge role on how scientist think about evolution and their fossil finding. Their studies allowed scientist to better understand how we evolved with our current minds and bodies.
Paleoanthropologist studied the remains of fossils my analyzing the body shape and brain and compared them to humans. The Neanderthals fossils finding showed extremely interesting characteristics. Neanderthals had really large brains, their brain sized at 1520 ccs. Their brains are larger than both H. heidelbergensis and modern humans. They had small back teeth and large front teeth. Their molars are taurodont, like ours, meaning that they have fused roots. They were also short and stocky. The Neanderthals fossils that were found tells us lot about their environment as well. In one of the lecture, it explained how the European neanderthals had large mid-face and noses for the cold weather, they lived in the ice age times so these facial features helped. Also Neanderthals had very few old people, suggesting that they had short and brutal lives. Many Neanderthals who were old (rare to find) had old wounds, indicating that they were cared for. Some of the elderly has lost all their teeth and had arthritis. Without these fossil findings we would never know this much detail about Neanderthals.
In my opinion, the biggest contribution these findings have made to the study of human diversity is culture. The Neanderthals cultural had some similarities to ours. For example, their burial traditions is a lot like ours. They had a arrangement of graves with flowers by them. Also, they found seashells that was used as adornments, it could have been used for a necklace. Lastly, there was a baby bear femur found with drilled holes in it, that could of been used as a flute. Different characteristics like this shows us a little bit about their culture. Neanderthals social characteristics are interesting. Them caring for the elderly and injured suggest that they have some sense of sympathy, and it shows that they have emotion and are able to identify with that emotion, like humans.
By discovering what modern humans and neanderthals have in common, and what makes us different helps us understand our own history. It also helps us discover why we were so successful in the history of evolution.
Overall, this week’s lecture was extremely interesting. Learning about neanderthals and other early humans, gave me a better understanding as to why it’s so important to explore fossil research. It helps us get a better understanding as to where we come from.