An Israeli scientist led a team of researchers in completing the first 3D virtual reconstruction of a Neanderthal skeleton, discovering that “cavemen” had great posture, contrary to mainstream beliefs.
Ella Been of Ono Academic College, along with researchers from Israel, Spain and the United States, found that Neanderthals in fact had straighter spines than humans today. They published their findings in the October 30 edition of Nature Communications.
The team focused on the rib cage and upper spine, which forms a chamber for the heart and lungs. The researchers used CT scans of fossils from a 60,000-year-old male skeleton known as “Kebara 2,” who was dug up in Israel in 1983. From there, they created a 3D model of the chest, discovering that it looks different than the famous image of the caveman — barrel-chested and hunched over.
They also found that Neanderthals had a larger diaphragm, suggesting greater lung capacity than modern humans, according to the Independent. And, the structure of their bodies helped them to conserve heat, ultimately helping them survive freezing climates.
Been said that the shape of the upper torso region is important in understanding how Neanderthals moved, breathed and balanced.
“Neanderthals are closely related to us with complex cultural adaptations much like those of modern humans, but their physical form is different from us in important ways,” she said. “Understanding their adaptations allows us to understand our own evolutionary path better.”