Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Mitochondrial Health

When Homo Sapiens Met Neanderthals…

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In 1856, in the Neander Valley of Prussia (now Germany), limestone cutters discovered the partial skeleton of a thick-boned, brow-ridged hominin in a cave. A German anthropologist named Hermann Schaaffhausen examined the bones. In an 1861 paper, titled ‘On the Crania of the Most Ancient Races of Man’, Schaaffhausen noted that, in the most ancient crania, the occipital was the most, and the frontal region the least developed; and that the increase in the elevation of the latter marked the transition from barbarous to civilized man. He continued, writing that ‘this condition is manifested in the most remarkable manner in the Neanderthal cranium, which must have given the human visage an unusually savage aspect.’ What’s more, he concluded that ‘the human bones and cranium from the Neanderthal exceed all other skulls in those peculiarities of conformation, which lead to the conclusion of their belonging to a barbarous and savage race.’ However, his contemporary, Irish geologist William King, disagreed. King noted that the skull of this fossil, with its “strong apelike tendencies” was “distinct from modern Man.” In 1863, King declared it a new species, which he named Homo neanderthalensis.

0:00 Homo Neanderthalensis
8:55 Homo Sapiens Intermixing
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