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Thu Nov 8, 2018, 11:58 PM

3-D model of Neanderthal rib cage busts myth of 'hunched-over cavemen'

Neanderthals walked upright, had spines straighter than those of modern man, would have been strong and sturdy, and breathed deeply from their bell-, not barrel-shaped ribcages, according to a recently published article written by an international team of scientists.

Busting open the myth of the arm-dragging, hunched-over caveman, the scientists, based at universities in Israel, Spain, and the United States, drew their conclusions from a recently completed 3D virtual reconstruction of the ribcage of the Kebara 2 skeleton — aka “Moshe” — the headless but almost complete Neanderthal remains unearthed in 1983 in a northern Israel cave.

Two years ago, her work on Kebara 2’s spine bore fruit when she and her colleagues published a virtual reconstruction of the Kebara 2 spine as a way of investigating Neanderthal biomechanics. The research and methodology for their paper, “3D Reconstruction of Spinal Posture of the Kebara 2 Neanderthal,” included medical CT scans of vertebrae, ribs and pelvic bones, along with the development of special 3D software. The Human Paleontology and Prehistory publication laid the groundwork for the recent reconstruction of the ribcage.

What is striking in the new study is its geometric morphometric analysis — basically a comparison between the reconstructed structure and skeletons of modern man.

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