The myth of a traumatized Neanderthal



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Even then, the duo wrote that their conclusions are based on small and possibly unrepresentative patterns. And after fifteen years Trinkaus completely doubled his idea, and later found that similar patterns of injuries were found among Pleistocene people who lived with Neanderthals. The hypothesis of the rodeo rider, he said, should be "more qualified if not simply withdrawn" (Trinkaus refused to interview him for this story).

But the hypothesis and the broader notion of highly traumatized Neanderthals were as firm as the imaginary neanderthal to the mammoth's back in the folk consciousness. Some researchers claimed that their often broken bodies would have stopped the Neanderthal to effectively transfer technology skills to one another. Others argued that they could survive their common wounds only with medical health.

But in a new study, the largest of its kind – Katerina Harvati and her colleagues at the University of Tübingen have shown that head injuries were not so common in Neanderthals and certainly no more than in modern Homo sapiens. "This means that the Neanderthal trauma does not require its own specific explanations, and that the risk and danger were so much a part of the life of Neanderthals as they were in the possession of the evolutionary past," writes Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge, editor-in-chief.

"The [high frequency of] head trauma was used to claim that they were more violent or hunted in a more special way, "says Harvati." We have taken one of these for this. It is important to re-examine our assumptions about their behavior. "

Other studies have come to similar conclusions, but no one has looked at such a large number of skeletons, says Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux, a Neanderthal student. "Real [helps] to return to the persistent image of the Neanderthals, because they have heavily destroyed bodies, "she says. This painting insisted partly because it seemed to be a probable reason why we they should be more successful. Having clear data to refute that, on the basis of a really good sample size, [adds to] a growing view that there are many similarities in behavior between two species. "

This study is complemented by the constant transformation of Neanderthals, which have long been presented as brutal and impersonal. It is now clear that they made tools, used fire, made art, buried their dead, and perhaps even had a language.

Harvati's colleague Judith Beier compared the previous studies to the skulls of 114 Neanderthals and 90 modern humans who all lived in Europe and Asia between 20,000 and 80,000 years ago. (The term "modern man" refers here Homo sapiens, and not current people.) It was estimated that between 4 and 33 percent of Neanderthals would have some sort of head injury, compared with 2 to 34 percent of modern modern humans.

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