Neanderthals grew up physically more rapidly than humans

December 5th, 2007 - 2:01 pm ICT by admin  

Berlin, Dec 5 (ANI): A new research by scientists has found evidence for a rapid physical development pattern in Neanderthals as compared to humans.
The research, led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, is based on findings analyzed after the discovery of a 100,000-year-old Belgian Neanderthal child. The child, who appears to be developmentally similar to a 10-12 year old human, was estimated to be in fact about 8 years old at death.
For the analysis, the team used growth lines both inside and on the surfaces of the child’s teeth to reconstruct tooth formation time and its’ age at death.
The study had researchers using information from the inside of a molar tooth, coupled with data from micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), as well as evidence of developmental stress on the outsides of tooth crowns and roots. This yields the first chronology, or time sequence, for Neanderthal tooth growth, which differs from living humans.
The findings indicate that the Scladina Neanderthal grew teeth over a shorter period of time, and has more teeth erupted than similarly aged fossil or living humans (Homo sapiens). The faster growth resulted in a more advanced pattern of dental development than in fossil and living members of our own species.
This pattern of dental development appears to be intermediate between early members of our genus (e.g., Homo erectus) and living people, suggesting that the characteristically slow development and long childhood is a recent condition unique to our own species.
The study also suggests that other aspects of physical development were likely more rapidly achieved as well, implying significant differences in the behaviour or social organization of the Neanderthals as compared to modern humans.
The new research is significant as across primates, tooth development, specifically the age of molar eruption, is related to other developmental landmarks such as weaning and first reproduction. (ANI)

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