Skip to comments.Scientists Build 'Frankenstein' Neanderthal Skeleton
Posted on 03/10/2005 6:37:15 PM PST by null and void
Anthropologists have built a "Frankenstein" Neanderthal skeleton, the first and only full-body reconstruction of the species. The result, announced today, is a shape no one expected.
"Its almost like making my own fossil discovery," said Gary Sawyer, one of the skeletons architects.
Sawyer, an anthropologist at the American Natural History Museum in New York, and his colleague Blaine Maley of Washington University, pieced together the skeleton using bones mostly from an individual known as La Ferrassie 1.
La Ferrassie 1 was missing its rib cage, pelvis, and a few other parts, so Sawyer and Maley had to scrounge around to find some parts.
"The missing parts had to come from another classic Neanderthal that was similar, if not identical, in size to the La Ferrassie man," Sawyer told LiveScience in a phone interview.
The spare parts came from Kebara 2, a 60,000-year-old skeleton discovered in Israel in 1983. Kebara 2 was previously known as the specimen with the best rib cage, pelvis, and vertebral preservation.
The La Ferrassie man was discovered in France in 1909 and is about 70,000 years old.
Sawyer said the replacement bones are remarkably similar in size to La Ferrassie man most were off by only a few millimeters.
Still, as the scientists pieced together the bones, something didnt look quite right. A rotund, bell-shaped torso, produced by a flared lower ribcage, and a pelvic region that looked slightly wide and feminine, began to form in front of their eyes.
"The biggest surprise by all means is that they have a rib cage radically different than a modern humans rib cage," said Sawyer. "As we stood back, we noticed one interesting thing was that these are kind of a short, squat people. These guys had no waist at all they were compact, dwarfy-like beings."
Other bits and replacement pieces, mostly the ends of bones, were collected from half a dozen other Neanderthals. The remaining gaps were filled in with reconstructed human bones.
The finished product is "like Frankenstein," Sawyer said.
Even though the reconstructed fossil is made up of both Neanderthal and human bones, Sawyer doesnt believe that modern humans could have evolved from Neanderthals based on the pelvic and torso discrepancies between the two species.
Evolutionary side road
"There is no way that modern humans, I believe, could have evolved from a species like Neanderthal," Sawyer said. "Theyre certainly a cousin theyre human but theyre one of those strange little offshoots."
The reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton is currently on display at the Dolan DNA Learning Center in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. It will eventually go on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History.
This research will be published in the March 11 issue of the Anatomical Record Part B: The New Anatomist.
Neanderthals were a relative of homo sapiens that co-inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia with hum from about 120,000 to 29,000 years ago. They were well adapted to the cold and were very muscular -- good traits for hunting large animals.
"They had very strong hands," Sawyer said. "If you shook hands with one, he would turn your hand to pulp."
Neanderthal reconstruction with color coding for specimen identification. The brownish color is La Ferrassie 1, the green is Kebara 2, and the white is false human bone. Credit: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Is that a technical term?
This is hugh! What a victory of science!!
Looks to me like gin soaked bones of Teddy Chapaquickdrown Kennedy.
hmmmm.....I don't think it's kosher to mix bones of a 60,000 yr old skeleton found in Israel, with 70,000yr old bones found in France.
It's basically trading armor for flexibility. They had very inflexible torsos but were less vulnerable to penetrating gut wounds, a death sentence in pre-tech times. The ribs hover very low over the hips, almost no waist.
They're also geared for crushing power rather than speed. The bone attachments are geared short rather than tall. Furthermore, the lower arms and lower legs are very short compared to the upper limbs in each case.
They could ram a thrusting spear deep, deep into a big animal, but they had a lousy fastball. They couldn't get much of a whip onto a throwing spear. The inflexible torso didn't help with that, either.
They lived hard, died young, and had skeletons like old rodeo cowboys. Lots of healed breaks. They took care of their wounded and buried their dead.
How did it look in a tux?
I wonder if the muscle attachments from bone to muscle were anchored in different locations compared to modren humans. Muscle to bone leverage could account for a lot of their increased strength.
Like a penguin?
Like Mike Tyson.
*caption* does this make me look fat?
I think that's true. Humans have pretty tall attachments compared to most animals. Tall gearing is better for endurance running and for throwing.
Neanderthals had knobbier, more robust skeletons. They were more adapted for cold weather and less for running all day across the grasslands. The wave of modern types out of Africa that replaced them was probably better with the throwing spear among its advantages.
All wrong. It looked like Peter Boyle.
Like many of the current residents of south east asia.
Maybe call it:
One Tough and Chivalrous Hombre
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh ahahahahahah good one man HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA
But the brain was from "Abbie Normal"
I'm thinking big bones supporting big muscles requiring big lungs supplying adequate oxygen. Kinda upends the humandoid-as-bumpercar theory. This skeletal interpolation of the fossil record and the tacit "proof" of an evolutionary basis for bell-shaped rib cages denies Occam his whetstone.
They weren't just us on a big scale, if that's what you're saying. They certainly averaged shorter than modern humans and were likely shorter than their contemporary "modern" Homo sapiens. Very short forearms and lower legs. You can see that in the skeleton depicted in the article. They had all the same bones as do we, but the length ratios are different. The lower spinal segments are shorter and thicker, which is why the waist is so short. The specimen in the photo has a lumbar region like an oak.
Kinda upends the humandoid-as-bumpercar theory. This skeletal interpolation of the fossil record and the tacit "proof" of an evolutionary basis for bell-shaped rib cages denies Occam his whetstone.
What a vague mumble all that is! Feel free to explain yourself.
As long as they're honest about what they're doing (no "Look at this 100% complete and intact skeleton we found!"), then I don't see a problem with trying to put disparate pieces into a bigger picture. We can all exercise some common sense and realize the limits of such an exercise - off by a few millimeters here or there, maybe one of the specimens is unusual in a way we can't yet recognize, and so forth - but it's still interesting to see something similar to what we might see if we really did find a 100% complete and intact skeleton.
I'm sure, as they were doing the reconstruction, they were also looking at the relative sizes and shapes of similar bones from other Neanderthal skeletons, which would give them an idea of how accurate the final product would be.
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"Don't mix the milch and the fleisch" -- that's not kosher.
OK, smart ass-ing aside. I'd have to wonder about the specimens originating from different "tribes". Add in caloric intake and disease over the generations, the body can change a lot in 10,000 yrs.
Although this sounds really interesting, I will take it with a grain of salt.
Some kook secular humanist scientist will want to clone this, no doubt.
Get ready. Yet, still no Bigfoot specimen!
There are modern men of varying heights -- Danny DeVito's skeleton may well more resemble a neanderthal's than it would Michael Jordan's. I wonder how much diversity in height and build is allowed for neanderthals?
Can you recommend a book or article with more information on this? It's an idea I've been tossing around & would like to read more about.
As Vade pointed out, it's not just the height and build, it's the ratio of bone length to cross-section, the shape and build of the muscle attachment points the shape of the skull and jaw, the angle at which the spinal cord enters the skull, the shape of the sinus cavities, etc. There are numerous morphological differences between Homo Sapien and Homo Neanderthalensis. A trained anthropologist or even anatomist can quickly tell the difference between human and Neanderthal bones.
Thanks for an interesting site. I've got it bookmarked.
I'm an amatuer pursuing an idea that the evolution to anatomically modern humans was the result of a tribe(s) of long distance runners who subsisted by non-stop trailing the herd animals they eventually domesticated.
Did you have to do that? (pic). ROFLMAO!
I think the assembling of a composite skeleton was entirely appropriate, but believe the problem is with species variation. For instance, a 6 ft tall man (homosapiens) may be long-waisted (as opposed to long wasted for Sen. Kennedy!)and actually have a trunk that would fit within some "normality curve" for a 6-3" or 6-4" person.
Also, are they sure that they didn't find a chick pelvis and include that with their model?
What with short people and neanderthals being anatomically predisposed to piracy and all.
Weebles "are kind of a short, squat people. These guys had no waist at all they were compact, dwarfy-like beings."
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.The Neandertal EnigmaFrayer's own reading of the record reveals a number of overlooked traits that clearly and specifically link the Neandertals to the Cro-Magnons. One such trait is the shape of the opening of the nerve canal in the lower jaw, a spot where dentists often give a pain-blocking injection. In many Neandertal, the upper portion of the opening is covered by a broad bony ridge, a curious feature also carried by a significant number of Cro-Magnons. But none of the alleged 'ancestors of us all' fossils from Africa have it, and it is extremely rare in modern people outside Europe." [pp 126-127]
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