Neanderthals are often depicted as walking with their bodies hunched over, while an upright, well-balanced posture is one of the defining features of Homo sapiens. But, University of Zurich researchers have shown that Neanderthals walked upright, just like modern humans today.
According to Science Daily, prehistoric human beings were more similar to us than many assume. This conclusion reached after scientists led by Haeusler and Erik Trinkaus — from Washington University in St. Louis — analyzing the virtual reconstruction of the spine and pelvis of a very well-preserved Neanderthal skeleton discovered in La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France.
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The mistake was made due — in part — to the fact that the remains at the first reconstructions, made in the early 20th century, were based upon actually belonged to an elderly male, rather than a Neanderthal in the prime of its life when they died.
Since the 1950s, scientists have known that the image of the Neanderthal as a hunched over caveman is not an accurate one. Moreover, Neanderthals also had a curved lumbar region and neck, just like modern humans, with a well-defined curvature. They were much similar to us – both in developmental and behavioral terms.
— Popular Archaeology (@populararch) February 26, 2019
In recent years the picture has swung “Focusing on the differences is back in fashion,” says Martin Haeusler, UZH specialist in evolutionary medicine.
“The stress on the hip joint and the position of the pelvis is no different than ours,” says Haeusler. This finding is also supported by analyses of other Neanderthal skeletons with sufficient remnants of vertebrae and pelvic bones. “On the whole, there is hardly any evidence that would point to Neanderthals having a fundamentally different anatomy,” explains Haeusler.
“Now is the time to recognize the basic similarities between the ancient people and modern humans and to switch the focus to the subtle biological and behavioral changes that occurred in humans in the late Pleistocene.”