Skull Analysis Suggests Deaf Neandertal Survived With Help From Friends

Posted on October 23, 2017

Shanidar 1 Neandertal Skull

Scientists discovered a Neandertal skull and skeletal remains in 1957 at the Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan. It was discovered by Ralph Solecki, an American archaeologist. The 50,000-year-old skull indicates that the Neandertal - known as Shanidar 1 - suffered multiple injuries and degenerations. New research indicates the Neandertal was also deaf.

Earlier studies found that the Neandertal had sustained a serious blow to the side of his face at a young age. His right arm was amputated at the elbow. He also had injuries to his right leg and a systematic degenerative condition. Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis., and Sébastien Villotte of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, conducted a new analysis of the remains. They found that Shanidar 1 would have suffered profound hearing loss based on the bony growths in his ear canal. The researchers say this sensory deprivation would have made him highly vulnerable in his Pleistocene context.

Trinkaus says in a statement, "More than his loss of a forearm, bad limp and other injuries, his deafness would have made him easy prey for the ubiquitous carnivores in his environment and dependent on other members of his social group for survival."

Trinkaus also says, "The debilities of Shanidar 1, and especially his hearing loss, thereby reinforce the basic humanity of these much maligned archaic humans, the Neandertals."

A research paper on the study can be found here in the journal, PLOS One.

Image: Erik Trinkaus


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