An analysis of the skeleton of a seven and half years Neanderthal boy who died around 49.000 years ago has revealed some shocking details. This well-preserved skeleton has provided new insights about how these ancient extinct humans developed and matured and how they are related to the modern humans. And the study has indicated that our ancient relatives like the Neanderthal child, were no more different than a modern-day human child.
Antonio Rosas, from Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), said that discerning the similarities and differences between the growth patterns of Neanderthals and modern human beings would definitely help in defining and decoding our own history. He added that Neanderthals and Modern humans have evolved from a recent common ancestor.
Luis Rios, a fellow researcher from CSIC, said that although Neanderthals had a greater cranial capacity than modern humans when they applied the pediatric growth methods, they found out that the Neanderthal child is almost similar to the modern-day child. It was also revealed that the growth and development of a Neanderthal child match the typical characteristics of a modern day child whereas a slow anatomical growth is observed in case of the Neanderthals between weaning and puberty.
Like modern humans (Homo sapiens), Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) took a long time to mature into adults, but due to their special physical characteristics, such as a larger braincase and wider body — they showed some unusual growth patterns. Their brains and spinal vertebral columns took a more long time to grow as compared with the modern humans. Rosas said that that the delay of the fusion in the vertebral column indicated that Neanderthals had a decoupling of certain aspects in their transition from infancy to the juvenile phase. He also added that although the implications are unknown, this specific feature might be related to the characteristics enlarged shape of the Neanderthal torso or slower brain growth.
The skeleton of the Neanderthal child indicated that he was 7.7 years old and weighed 26 kilos with a height of 111 centimeters before his death. The skeleton was discovered in 1994 at the El Sidron cave located in Pilona, Spain. The study about this discovery was published in the journal Science.