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The original Neanderthal skeleton from the Neander Valley

The original Neanderthal skeleton from the Neander Valley, the type specimen, dubbed Neanderthal 1, consisted of a skull cap, two femora, three bones from the right arm, two from the left arm, part of the left ilium, fragments of a scapula, and ribs. The workers who recovered this material originally thought it to be the remains of a bear. They gave the material to amateur naturalist Johann Carl Fuhlrott, who turned the fossils over to anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen. The discovery was jointly announced in 1857. The original Neanderthal discovery is now considered the beginning of paleoanthropology. These and other discoveries led to the idea these remains were from ancient Europeans who had played an important role in modern human origins. The bones of over 400 Neanderthals have been found since.

Text above adapted from Wikipedia.

original neanderthal
It is most unusual to see the complete skeleton laid out in this way. Most textbooks show an overhead shot of the cranium only.

The red arrows point to recently discovered bones found during the 1997-2000 excavations at the original site, and belonging to the Neanderthal skeleton discovered in 1856.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal
This version shows the partial skeleton superimposed over a drawing of the complete skeleton.

Photo: G. Oleschinski

Source: http://www.rlmb.lvr.de/museum/26d559e3-00ec-4f4e-a4c3-ad3a1dd0f074.htm




neandertal

This is a reconstruction of the 1856 discovery of the Neanderthal. It is a superb recreation.

Photo: © Neanderthal Museum/H. Neumann

Source: http://www.neanderthal.de/en/press-pictures/pictures/neanderthals/index.html

Permission: by kind permission of Dr. Bärbel Auffermann, Deputy Director of the Museum, and in charge of Exhibition Management, Press and Public Relations.




neandertal



Stream in the Neander Valley.

Photo: March 18, 2006, http://www.cordula.ws/, Cordula, Cordula's Web.

Permission: Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 2.5 Generic licence.




original neanderthal original neanderthal




Here we see the skeleton laid out with the bones in the correct relation to each other, with red triangles indicating the extra bones found in the relatively recent excavations of 1997-2000, a wonderful addition to the specimen.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal original neanderthal
One of the distinguishing features of a Neanderthal skull is the prominent brow ridge, very evident in these photographs.

Here we can also see the right clavicle or collar bone, displaying the double curvature characteristic of Western Neanderthals (Condemi, 2006) , which is also characteristic of anatomically modern humans.

These curvatures are associated with shoulder architecture. (Voisin 2004, Voisin 2006a, Voisin 2006b)

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal original neanderthal
Here we can see clearly the characteristic occipital bun of the Neanderthals.

Occipital bun is a morphological term used to describe a prominent bulge, or projection, of the occipital bone at the back of the skull. The term is most often used in connection with scientific descriptions of classic Neanderthal crania.

While common among many of mankind's ancestors, primarily robust relatives rather than gracile, the protrusion is relatively rare in modern Homo sapiens.



Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia




 neanderthal skull diagram
This diagram shows the important parts of the skull of a typical Neanderthal, including the occipital bun.

Some scientists suspect occipital buns might correlate with the biomechanics of running. Another theory attributes them to enlargement of the cerebellum, a region of the brain which mediates the timing of motor actions and spatial reasoning.

There are still many human populations which often exhibit occipital buns. A greater proportion of early modern Europeans had them, but prominent occipital buns even among Europeans are now relatively infrequent. They are still found fairly often among Basque, Sami and Finn individuals. Bushmen from South Africa and Australian aborigines often have occipital buns also.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic licence.
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia




original neanderthal
Other defining characteristics of Neanderthals are shown here:

Großes Schultergelenk - Large shoulder joint
Großes Ellenbogengelenk - Big elbow
Kurze Unterarmknochen - Short forearm bones
Breite Hüften - Wide hips
Großes, nach außen gedrehtes Hüftgelenk - Large hip rotated towards the outside.
Kräftige Hände mit robusten Fingern und breiten Fingerkuppen - Strong hands with robust fingers and broad fingertips
Gebogene Oberschenkelknochen - Curved femur.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Display at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




neandertal

This is a delightful photograph from the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany.

Photo: © Neanderthal Museum/H. Neumann

Source: http://www.neanderthal.de/en/press-pictures/pictures/neanderthals/index.html

Permission: by kind permission of Dr. Bärbel Auffermann, Deputy Director of the Museum, and in charge of Exhibition Management, Press and Public Relations.




original neanderthal original neanderthal

The skeleton lacks the skull below the eye sockets, as well as the jaw. I find this strange, as jaws, and especially teeth, are often very well preserved in cases of this type.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




neandertal

The original set of bones discovered in 1856.

Photo: © Neanderthal Museum/S. Pietrek

Source: http://www.neanderthal.de/en/press-pictures/pictures/neanderthals/index.html

Permission: by kind permission of Dr. Bärbel Auffermann, Deputy Director of the Museum, and in charge of Exhibition Management, Press and Public Relations.




original neanderthal original neanderthal


original neanderthal original neanderthal

Various views of the skull and nearby bones from above.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal
The occipital bone joins the parietal bones along the lambdoidal suture. It forms the back of the skull and the base of the cranium.

The lambdoidal suture, outlining the occipital bun is particularly obvious in this photograph of the back of the skull.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal Greek Letter Lambda
(left) This diagram shows the lambdoidal suture and the occipital bone clearly, viewed from the rear.

(right) The capital and lower case forms of the Greek letter Lambda, which inspired the name of the lambdoidal suture - alone it is the upper case Lambda, and in combination with the sagittal suture forms the lower case lambda.

Photo: http://www.getbodysmart.com/ap2/skeletalsystem/skeleton/axial/skull/features/skull_sutures/tutorial.html




original neanderthal
This photo shows, to the left of the photo, the top of the right femur, with its ball joint which would have fitted into a socket in the pelvis.

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.




original neanderthal original neanderthal
The left femur, with part of the socket into which it fits in the hip.

The red triangles point to extra bones from the left hand of the original specimen which were found recently in the 1997 - 2000 excavations in the original site in the Neander Valley.

It must have been exciting for the discoverers to find so many extra bones from possibly the most important skeleton in the history of anthropology!

Photo: Anon.
Source: Original bones of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis, displayed at LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.





homo heidelbergensis
Lower jaw of Homo heidelbergensis, facsimile. This is the presumed ancestor of both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, and is the type specimen for Homo heidelbergensis. It was found at Mauer, Rhein-Neckar-Kreis. Ca 600 000 BP.

The first fossil discovery of this species was made on October 21, 1907, and came from Mauer where the workman Daniel Hartmann spotted the jaw shown here in a sandpit. The jaw (Mauer 1) was in good condition except for the missing premolar teeth, which were eventually found near the jaw. The workman gave it to Professor Otto Schoetensack from the University of Heidelberg, who identified and named the fossil.

The next Homo heidelbergensis remains were found in Steinheim an der Murr, Germany (the Steinheim Skull, 350 000 BP); Arago, France (Arago 21); Petralona, Greece; and Ciampate del Diavolo, Italy.

Photo: R, 2012
Source: Museum of Karlsruhe, Inv. 2008/755
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia, and from the card with the exhibit.




homo heidelbergensis





Mandible (lower jaw) of the type specimen of Homo heidelbergenis from Mauer near Heidelberg, Germany (replica, Museum Mauer)

Photo: Gerbil
Permission: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




homo heidelbergensis





Mandible (lower jaw) of the type specimen of Homo heidelbergenis from Mauer near Heidelberg, Germany (replica, Museum Mauer)

Photo: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/46/19726/F1.expansion.html




homo heidelbergensis site

Stratigraphy of the sand pit Grafenrain at Mauer with the find horizon of the Homo heidelbergensis mandible in the lower sands.

Left photograph is taken from the original monograph, with the find site (x); right photograph shows the present exposure.

Photo: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/46/19726/F2.expansion.html




neandershole
The cave in the Neander Valley, 1835

Source: Adapted from the book 'Wanderungen zur Neandershöhle - Eine topographische Skizze von Erkrath an der Düssel', published in 1835 Arnz & Comp. Verlag Düsseldorf. The book was launched in 1956 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the Rhineland Regional Council in cooperation with the Nature Protection Society Neanderthal again. A facsimile is available under ISBN 3-92205-519-2 .

The creator of the lithograph is not known, but it was probably one of the publishing houses or the self-appointed artist Bongard.

Permission: Public Domain




homo heidelbergensis

Homo heidelbergensis

Kabwe 1 (cranium)

Broken Hill, Zambia

Ca 400 000 BP

Discovered by T. Zwigelaar, 1921

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2013
Facsmile
Source and text: Western Australian Museum




Some additional information about Neanderthal/Neandertal

Michael Hess

The Neandertal is a valley about 10 km east of Duesseldorf named after the 17th century poet Joachim Neander who liked this lovely valley very much.

So, it became Neander's Tal. 'Tal' means 'valley' and one might note that the scientific name is (usually) written with 'th'. The reason is that around the year 1900 there was a reform of German orthography and many words written with 'th' like Thurm (tower), Thuere (door) lost their 'h'. Interestingly not the word Thron (= throne). The reason is that at that time Germany had an Emperor, William II, and he did not want to sit on a throne without 'h', so it remained in place by higher order. However, if you want to visit that site today and the nice museum there, you have to look for 'Neandertal' - without 'h'. In 'neanderthal man' it remained by scientific consequence or tradition.

The Neandertal in former times was a lovely valley with forests, meadows and a creek much loved by artist who came from the nearby Duesseldorf to paint the landscape-it was the romantic age of the 19th century. The name of the creek is 'Duessel' and consequently the name of the village at the junction of the creek with the Rhine was called Duesseldorf, no longer a 'Dorf' (= village) these days. However, this area east of Duesseldorf is rich in limestone because there is a Devonian coral reef, 400 million years old, and the limestone was – and is – very popular in building trade, so there was a stone quarry. At a site called Kleine Feldhofer Grotte (cave) some quarry workers found weird bones and thought they might belong to a bear or – the Napoleon War was not long ago – they were bones of some rheumatic soldier of the beaten Napoleon army. It was C. Fuhlrott, the local high school teacher who immediately realised the importance of the bones, the calotte (uppermost and thickest portion of the skull, which may persist as a bony remnant of the skull for the longest time) of a skull and some other bones. A street in Wuppertal is named after Fuhlrott.

The bones were not found in situ – which means they were not found in their natural, undisturbed position, therefore, an exact dating of the remains is not yet accomplished. The age is assumed to be 40 000 to 100 000 years (neopleistocean, Weichsel-glacial). The huge limestone rock that housed the cave where the bones were found is long gone – completely gone. The original site is now a meadow with marks and information one can obtain from tables and earphone that can be borrowed at the near-by Neandertal Museum. The photos show how the original site looks today. Geographical coordinates: 51°13'38.93'' North, 6°56'43.22'' East.

Imagine a huge rock with the cave entrance about 20 metres high above the present ground level. So, the original site is really gone. The more surprising is it that a recent careful revision of the area (1998) resulted in the discovery of the (lost) original location and the identification of the sites that were called 'Kleine Feldhofer Grotte' and 'Feldhofer Kirche' early in the 19th century. The two archeologists Juergen Tissen and Ralf Schmitz were even able to identify the rubble from these sites and detected some missing parts of the historical 1856 discovery: 20 parts including a molar, ribs, vertebrae, toe-bones. They even found a coin-sized bone splinter that fits exactly into the 1856 left knee joint.

There is also hope that some new stone artefacts from the site will provide additional information about the age of the skeleton.

In those days of Neanderthal man, the lovely valley must have looked entirely different, like a tundra with the ice of the glaciers only a few hundred or even less kilometres to the north. About 20 000 years ago the glaciers reached their most southern position about the latitude of Essen, 50 km to the north. On the left (western) bank of the Rhine one can still see the left-overs of this glacial: the terminal moraines between Xanten and Sonsbeck. These were the times when the river Thames was a tributary stream of the Rhine, large parts of what is now the North Sea were dry land and the British Islands were an integral part of the continent that could be reached without wetting one's feet. It is hard to believe that there was ice hundreds of metres high not far away…



neanderthal cave site now



The entrance gate to the original site (about 500 m west of the museum down the road).

Photo: Michael Hess




neanderthal cave site now



South-west view of the site coming from the entrance to the clearing.

Photo: Michael Hess




neanderthal cave site now



South-east view (opposite direction, towards the entrance). The original site was in the middle of the clearing where the stakes are.

Photo: Michael Hess




neanderthal cave site now



Up river in the Duessel valley as it looks now, close to the museum not far from where a herd of Wisents are pastured.

Photo: Michael Hess




neanderthal cave site now



'walk through time' near the museum.

Photo: Michael Hess








References


  1. Condemi, S., 2006: Continuity and Discontinuity in the Peopling of Europe, One Hundred Fifty Years of Neanderthal Study Volume 1Springer, 2006
  2. Voisin, J., 2004: Clavicule: approche architecturale de l’épaule et réflexions sur le statut systématique des néandertaliens, Comptes Rendus Palevol, 3, 133–142.
  3. Voisin, J., 2006a: Krapina and other Neanderthal clavicles: A peculiar morphology? Periodicum Biologorum, 108, 331–339.
  4. Voisin, J., 2006b: The clavicle, a neglected bone; morphology and relation to arm movements and shoulder architecture in Primates. The Anatomical Record, Part A, 288A, 944–953




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