Neanderthals big mouths allowed them to take extremely large bitesMay 3rd, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by admin
Washington, May 3 (ANI): A new research has determined that Neanderthals had big mouths that they were able to open unusually wide.
The study was carried out by Yoel Rak, a professor of anatomy at Tel Aviv Universitys Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and William Hylander, an expert on jaw biomechanics at Duke University.
Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe and Asia for more than 400,000 years, then disappeared some 30,000 years ago.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the study found that a combination of facial structure, forward-positioned molars, and an unusually large gap between the vertical parts of the back of the jaw allowed Neanderthals to gape widely.
It has been noted by researchers that modern humans and our direct ancestors didnt have these traits.
But, the team was unable to measure exactly how far Neanderthals could open their mouths.
This ability is connected to the length of the muscle fibers, which, of course, we dont have, said Rak.
The scientists believe the large space behind Neandertals molars created a geometry that allowed them to take extremely large bites.
According to researchers, this is perhaps an adaptation to the size of the food Neanderthals ate, although they caution that the exact reason for the wide gape remains an enigma.
The omnivorous species had an extremely varied dietfrom vegetation to reindeerand they knew how to butcher and cook meat.
They didnt have to put a whole animal leg in their mouths, noted Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist at Princeton University. I would suspect that the Neanderthals were probably as adept as we are in cutting their food into manageable sizes, he added.
According to Mann, a large mouth structure may not have been exclusive to Neanderthals, but was also present in earlier human species.
Instead of eating habits, the change in gape size may be due more to the evolution of the skull: as the braincase expanded, the face moved under it, he said.
What has changed is the architecture that we begin to see in modern humans, where the face and the braincase have different kinds of structural relationships. This has produced a change in our ability to open our mouths, he added. (ANI)
- Differences in human and Neanderthal brains set in first year of life - Nov 09, 2010
- A new, giant wasp discovered in Indonesia - Mar 25, 2012
- Scientist unravels secret of T.rex's fearsome snarl - Mar 19, 2012
- Research suggests humans evolved from prehistoric sharks - Jun 14, 2012
- Neanderthals lived in houses, not caves - Dec 20, 2011
- Scientists find car-sized turtle fossil - May 18, 2012
- Human childhood considerably longer than chimps: Study - Nov 16, 2010
- Bar big burgers, says dentist - Jul 09, 2010
- Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables - Dec 29, 2010
- First molars help trace how apes, humans evolved - Dec 29, 2009
- Snake from India fed on hatchling dinos 67 million years ago - Mar 02, 2010
- Flesh eating helped humans spread globally - Apr 19, 2012
- Scientists unearth fossil of 150 mln yr old squirrel-sized dino - Oct 25, 2009
- Neanderthal children were 'large, sturdy and toothy' - Oct 20, 2010
- Big babies shape up the early human societies - Jan 11, 2011
Tags: alan mann, animal leg, big mouths, biomechanics, braincase, cook meat, duke university, exact reason, facial structure, faculty of medicine, human species, hylander, manageable sizes, molars, muscle fibers, national geographic news, neanderthals, physical anthropologist, princeton university, yoel rak