Neanderthal reconstructed

NOTE: Due to an embargo break, the embargo on this release has been lifted.

Anthropologists have constructed the world's first complete articulated Neanderthal skeleton to expand public and scientific understanding of the group, as well as of the differences between Neanderthals and modern humans. Their research will be published online March 11, 2005 in The Anatomical Record Part B: The New Anatomist, and will be available via Wiley InterScience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ar).

Questions about Neanderthals have persisted for nearly 150 years, many based upon an early erroneous stereotype of a slouched, bent-kneed biped with primitive mental capacity. Over the years, many artists have put forth images of Neanderthals, yet no one had ever constructed a complete skeleton using authentic fossil skeletal material. Anthropologists G.J. Sawyer of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Blaine Maley of Washington University in St. Louis, MO set out to be the first, in an attempt to contribute to a more objective understanding of Neanderthals.

"The primary purpose was to provide a more scientific understanding of Neanderthal skeletal anatomy based on the totality of available evidence, and to help us get a better estimation of stature differences between modern humans and our Neanderthal cousins," said the authors. "Our results would be used to educate the scientific community and the public on these differences, as well as give us a potential vehicle for undertaking more accurate biomechanical studies on Neanderthal positional and locomotor behaviors."

They based their reconstruction on a skeleton known as La Ferrassie 1, which had been found in France in 1909. It is a well preserved and fairly complete fossil skeleton, though missing a fully complete rib cage, vertebral column, and pelvis. These missing elements were obtained from other individua

Contact: David Greenberg
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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