Ancient Human Skull Found In Portugal Is Of An Oldest Neanderthal

Posted: Mar 16 2017, 6:00am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Ancient Human Skull Found in Portugal is of an Oldest Neanderthal
A large international research team, directed by the Portuguese archaeologist João Zilhão and including Binghamton University anthropologist Rolf Quam, has found the oldest fossil human cranium, nicknamed "Aroeira 3," in Portugal, marking an important contribution to knowledge of human evolution during the middle Pleistocene in Europe and to the origin of the Neandertals. Credit: Javier Trueba
  • Neanderthals and the Fossil Story of Human Evolution

A Different Breed from Primitive Man

Neanderthals came before Homo sapiens on the prehistoric timeline. When archaeologists discovered skulls and bones of these hominids, they couldn’t believe what they had just come across. The sloping forehead and chinless skulls and squat bodies showed that Neanderthals were distant cousins of Homo sapiens. Also they were powerful fighters that brought down their prey with ferocity.

These creatures did have the level of consciousness and good sense to bury their deceased with flowers thereby showing that they were cognizant of the unknown. What caused the wiping out of Neanderthals from the face of the earth remains a mystery. It could have been awry weather or it could have even been us Homo sapiens. The question of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals having mated at some time in the prehistoric past is a controversial one.

Ancient Neanderthal Skull Found in Portugal

A Neanderthal skull was discovered in Portugal by scientists and archaeologists. This finding holds great importance for modern day anthropology and archaeology. For one thing, it points towards the presence of the oldest remaining fossils of Neanderthals in Portugal. The remains were found among fauna bones and stone tools showing that these early hominids tended to hunt and use implements in their day to day life. The skull is 400,000 years old. It was found and extracted with great difficulty from the sediment that it was a part of. After two years of backbreaking labor, this skull was ready for display.

Neanderthals Ate Vegetarian Diet and Discovered Aspirin

Dental Plaque Reveals Neanderthals Ate a Plant-Based Diet and Had Knowledge of Pain-Relieving Plants. Besides being mighty hunters, Neanderthals ate a diet of woolly rhinoceres and wild sheep. Yet evidence to the contrary shows that they primarily ate a plant-based diet consisting of pine nuts, wild mushrooms and moss. The finding was made in a grotto in Spy, Belgium and El Sidron, Spain. Some of the Neanderthals also had teeth abscesses which they tried to cure by eating a plant with salicylic acid in it. This worked like aspirin.

Also one of them had diarrhea and was in a very sick state which he tried to relieve by consuming poplar. Thus plant-based medicine was something which was not foreign to Neanderthals. These results were obtained after a DNA analysis of the dental plaque of Neanderthals. The bits of food stuck to the teeth lent proof to the fact that respiratory and digestive disorders were common among these hominids. They also ate tree bark. Thus the Neanderthals were not fools but possessed extensive knowledge regarding medicine. They even cooked some of the plants they ate.

Neanderthal-Human Hybrid Skulls Found in China

Skulls found in China have Scientists Excited Beyond Belief. The evolutionary origins of human beings is something that has puzzled researchers since eons. Apparently, 200,000 years ago in sub-Saharan Africa, human beings were evolving steadily. Then some 60,000 years ago, they spread out to the other continents. Among one of the side effects of this was that Neanderthals were displaced by Homo sapiens.

The Neanderthal genome sequence holds many a surprise in store for us moderns. One of the mysteries is the Denisovans that lived such a long time ago. Today, the human genome contains a fundamental part that is composed of Neanderthal and Denisovan genes. Whether the Neanderthals were a separate species from us remains a moot point.

Two novel skulls from China have led to many new facts coming to light. After hard work, these skulls were excavated from their quarry. The fact that Neanderthals had made it all the way to China from their origins in Africa is something to ponder over. Apparently, the skulls found in China were part Homo sapiens and part Neanderthal. The brow ridges were the biggest clue in this discovery. The finding shows us humans the mirror as far as our evolutionary past is concerned. The early travails and tribulations of the human race regarding the brutal environment it faced shows us that the journey has not been an easy one at all.

Neanderthal DNA is Still a Part of Modern Human Genome

Coming to a major topic that needs to be discussed, while the Neanderthals died out some 40,000 years ago, they did leave behind traces of their existence. Within the genetic subtext of human beings, this trace thrives unnoticed. The whole story of modern man cannot be written off as an accomplishment of recent times. The ancient ancestors had been working behind the scenes since eons. Neanderthals with their chinless jaws and sloping forehead features were there all along in the background of human evolution.

Many maladies of modern existence such as mental problems and lupus are there due to Neanderthals. Also height has a lot to do with the Neanderthal DNA inherent in human genes. The intermixing and interbreeding of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens led to the present phenotype and tendency to be prone to certain ailments. These include in their purview: fat metabolism, depression and lupus.

While DNA can be easily recovered from fossils, RNA is not so easily obtainable. Without a thorough examination of RNA, the Neanderthal question will remain unanswered. While there are differences between human DNA and Neanderthal DNA, they show similarities in 25% of the alleles. The split between the two kissing cousins (so to say) took place some 700,000 years ago.

Since than while Homo sapiens survived till our present times, the Neanderthals died out and left behind only relics of their forgotten existence on this earth.

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