Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pre-Neandertal Humans Developed Social Skills Earlier Than Thought

Date:
September 14, 2001
Source:
Washington University In St. Louis
Summary:
If your image of a Neandertal is of a crude, uncaring, brute, think again. Teeth and jaw fossils found last year in southeastern France not only reinforce perceptions about how our Neandertal ancestors developed physically, but also suggest that their social and technological development was much more advanced than previously documented. An international team of scientists, including Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, studied two ancient teeth and a large segment of a lower jaw.

St. Louis, Mo, Sept. 10, 2001 — If your image of a Neandertal is of a crude, uncaring, brute, think again. Teeth and jaw fossils found last year in southeastern France not only reinforce perceptions about how our Neandertal ancestors developed physically, but also suggest that their social and technological development was much more advanced than previously documented. An international team of scientists, including Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, studied two ancient teeth and a large segment of a lower jaw.

Related Articles


The team’s findings, which will appear in the Sept. 25th issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), extend the record of early people taking care of other community members as far back as 175,000 years ago. The article will be posted on the PNAS Web site at www.pnas.org on Sept. 11.

The fossils, from three different humans estimated to be about 175,000 years old (from the Middle Pleistocene period), show a stage of evolutionary development that led to the Neandertals that appeared in Europe between 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Serge Lebel, Ph.D., associate professor in the earth sciences department at the University of Quebec in Montreal, led the team that found the fossils in the Bau de l’Aubesier, a large rockshelter in Monieux, Vaucluse, France.

As humans spread across the Old World, they acquired regional patterns of anatomy, and the fossil jaw — one of the few found from this period — shows evidence of the gradual accumulation of Neandertal features in this group of humans, say the researchers from Canada, the United States, France and Germany.

From the shape of the jaw fragment, scientists can see that the cheek was beginning to sweep back, demonstrating that the face was losing strength. Because of the changing patterns of food preparation, less forceful mastication was needed. That finding reinforces concepts derived from examining the otherwise limited fossil record.

But the jaw also has changed perceptions about early human behavior, specifically when the early humans began to care for, and support, people within their groups who had difficulty caring for themselves.

Previous fossils have shown evidence of caring for infants with congenital problems in the Middle Pleistocene, but the jaw provides the first evidence of long-term survival of someone without effective chewing. Because of massive periodontal inflammation, all of the teeth had been missing or ineffective for some time before the individual died. Previous evidence for such survival was about 50,000 years ago, 125,000 years later than this study documents.

"This is the oldest example of someone surviving for some period of time without an effective set of choppers," Trinkaus said. "There had to have been extensive preparation of food — a combination of cutting and cooking — before this person could eat. They had good cutting tools and controlled fire, but the absence of real hearths and tools that would have done more than dice the food suggests that this individual was being given softer food items by other members of the social group.

"Although commonplace among later Neandertals and recent humans, such survival of toothless humans is unknown for earlier time periods," Trinkaus added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University In St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University In St. Louis. "Pre-Neandertal Humans Developed Social Skills Earlier Than Thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010913074336.htm>.
Washington University In St. Louis. (2001, September 14). Pre-Neandertal Humans Developed Social Skills Earlier Than Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010913074336.htm
Washington University In St. Louis. "Pre-Neandertal Humans Developed Social Skills Earlier Than Thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010913074336.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins