Neanderthal Girl Image

This image–

has been circulating since at least 2005.

Who created it?
Why?
Is it part of a larger Neanderthal image collection?
Is it based on good science?

It’s reconstruction by multimedia lab team from University of Zurich. Check this link under “face reconstruction”.

I’ve wondered about the recent trend toward depicting Neanderthals as very similar in appearance to modern humans. Maybe they weren’t.

Maybe, for example, they were covered with fur. Why do we assume they were naked apes like us? They had other cold-weather adaptations: short limbs and thick torsos are presumed to have helped Neanderthals conserve heat. Wouldn’t furriness be another likely adaptation for colder climates?

Neanderthal sites are notable for their lack of sewing implements. Maybe they weren’t making clothing because they didn’t need it?

I’ve also wondered why it’s become fashionable to depict them as redheads.

The current issue of National Geographic has another female Neanderthal reconstruction. She has red hair, fairish skin and greenish hazel eyes.

Regarding being covered in hair, do we have some mummies or frozen examples of Neadertals that would have preserved hair?

That’s because a couple of years ago, while parsing Neanderthal DNA, they found a specific gene that would have given that particular person red hair. It’s even a different mutation from the one that showed up among Cro Magnon about 10,000 years ago.

Besides, redheads are always cool.

We don’t. The latest fossils we have are still around 28,000 years old. They’re skeletonized - no soft tissue remaining.

As there have been indications that Neanderthals wore animal skins as clothing, I think it’s reasonable to assume that they didn’t have their own pelt. The likely progenitor of both Neanderthal and Cro Magnon evolved in Africa, and IIRC, most paleoanthropologists figure that hominins lost their fur about the time they started consistently started walking on two feet and gained such profligate sweat glands.

Well, we have ancient bogmen with hair intact, but their hair is thought to be discolored from acids from the peat that preserved them. Some frozen mammoths have had their fur preserved too, so it probably would work on people as well.

Neanderthals (or sometimes Neandertals, which some advocate as a spelling) are so close to Homo Sapiens that some scientists believed that they were able to interbreed. That alone makes furriness unlikely. We’re known to share 99% of DNA with Neanderthals but only 95% with chimpanzees.

They are so recent a species that it’s extremely likely that the last ancestor species we’re both thought to have in common would also have been a “hairless ape.” There is essentially no chance that they would have re-evolved body hair.

I don’t think furriness can be ruled out. Even modern humans have rare furry mutations, and it would explain a lot.

If early humans saw the Neanderthals as game animals rather than fellow people, hunting them to extinction seems like a real possibility.

A belief that is hotly contested. As I understand it, the scientists who believe interbreeding occurred base that idea on a few morphologically ambiguous skulls. But an emerging consensus based on DNA analysis is that interbreeding did not occur. From Wiki:

No it doesn’t, even if we were to assume coupling occurred. Plenty of modern humans are pretty furry. And we also know that at least some modern shepherds aren’t particular about the furriness of the animals with which they’ll couple.

The percentage of DNA difference is pretty meaningless in the context of this discussion. There are obvious morphological differences between modern humans and Neanderthals. The aforementioned short arms and thick torsos. Brow ridges. Elongated skulls. Receeding foreheads. Rounded instead of pentagonal skull shape. Much larger noses. You can get an idea of the difference between a Neanderthal skull and a modern skull here and here.

Hairiness seems like a very minor morphological difference by comparison- one that could easily have evolved with just a slight hormonal tweak.

Neanderthals ancestors had been in Europe for perhaps as long as 600,000 years - plenty of time to evolve fur. By contrast, modern humans have only ventured into northern Europe in the past 30,000 to 50,000 years.

And that’s assuming Neanderthals needed to evolve fur. They might’ve already had it - like all of our more distant primate cousins today.

Is there any such evidence? What sort of evidence? (I’m willing to be convinced.)

The only thing I’ve seen along those lines is an assumption that Neanderthals must have just draped themselves with skins rather than fashioning clothing, since no sewing tools have been found. (That assumption is mentioned in the current issue of National Geographic.)

A better assumption in my view is that no sewing tools have been found because Neanderthals (like other animals found in cold climates) had evolved fur and didn’t need clothing.

Elephant -----> Mammoth

Rhinoceros -----> Wooly Rhinoceros

African cattle -----> Scottish cattle

A pattern emerges…

Without any intended snarkiness, the pattern you see here is that you can twice match a modern warm-climate mammal with a related extinct mammal of a different genus within the same family that was adapted for Pleistocene cold climates (rhinos and probiscideans), along with a warm- and a cold-climate breed of a variable domestic species (cattle). If you’re shooting for “many warm-climate mammals had hairier cold-climate relatives,” that does not prove anything about humans – otherwise you’d be depicting the highly-hirsute Inuit and Saami alongside the hairless Tupinambi and Guamanians. And IIRC the degree of body hair is about even.

Neandertals were cladistically our closest kin – it’s still debated among paleoanthropologists whether they were a subspecies of Homo sapiens or a closely related separate species (H. neanderthalensis), with the second view seeming to be becoming more and more widely accepted. They were adapted to cool climates, but the adaptations were largely nasopharyngeal – nose and throat mods. for dealing with relatively frigid air. The degree of hirsuteness is of necessity conjectural, but would probably be little more than one might see on a “bears” porn website. The pale skin is highly likely – skin coloration factors in degree of exposure to solar UV (dark skin helps protect) with the need to produce Vitamin D (light skin fosters production – and environmental sources of the vitamin may be scarce in cooler climates). Essentially, light skin is an adapation to cool climate.

Why “probably”?

It seems to me more probable that in the hundreds of thousands of years they and their ancestors were in northern climes they would have evolved fur … just as other cold-weather mammals did.

As for why the Inuit haven’t evolved fur, they haven’t needed to: they have clothing, and therefore there’s no selection pressure to be furry. There is no evidence of which I’m aware (and none has been put forward in this thread) that Neanderthals made clothes.

Is there any paleontological evidence to support the conjecture that Neandertals used to dress in animal skins, gather in prehistoric hotels, and draw pictures of themselves with tails and cat ears? Seems like a huge reach to me.

</emily latella>

I don’t mean to hi-jack, but did they ever find out what happened to Neanderthals?

Did we eat them all?

I don’t know of a single serious paleontologist who thinks the Neanderthals went around naked. All seem to agree that they worse animal skins, which could be cut and shaped to fit the body without sewing. There’s some evidence that Neanderthals developing sewing tools just before they went extinct. I suppose the interbreeders might use this as evidence for Sapiens genes. (I specifically said some scientists believe in interbreeding because I know it’s controversial. But if anyone though the two species were so far apart than one had hair, nobody would buy the interbreeding for a second. I myself think they didn’t interbreed, so all I’m saying is that there are known to have been so genetically close that a good case has been made.)

The other problem is the assumption that the Neanderthals made this extreme adaptation because of the cold of an ice age. We simply don’t know exactly when the first Neanderthals appeared. Maybe 350,000 years ago, but that maybe is a huge trap. If you look at a chart of temperatures over that period you see that the could have appeared either at the depth of an ice age or at the height of an interglacial. However they started they went through a complete cycle of warm and cold temperatures, just as Homo Sapiens did, in fact more than one. Any adaptations they did would have to be extremely quick and would have been counterproductive just a short time later.

I know of absolutely no evidence that Neanderthals first appeared 600,000 years ago. Even proto-Neanderthal features are never dated before 500,000 years ago and the 350,000 figure is more cited. Complete Neanderthal structures are from about 200,000 years, which was an interglacial.

It would help if you could provide some sites for your assertions. Give us cites for when true Neanderthals appeared, for the climate that occurred at the time, for their never wearing skins, for their genetic profile to have changed over time to allow for fur. Don’t make us disprove all of this. Provide some positive evidence to back you up.

There is quite a bit of variation in body and facial hairiness just within Homo sapiens. I think that in the absence of direct fossil evidence one way or the other, the possibility that Neandertals were hairier than any H. sapiens must at least be considered open.

Exapno Mapcase, this possibility would not require Neandertals to have re-evolved body hair. Homo sapiens still has body hair and so, presumably, did the common ancestor. It is only a question of degree.

This site mentions some evidence for Neandertals working with animal skins: