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Morphology, pathology and the vertebral posture of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal


Haeusler, Martin; Trinkaus, Erik; Fornai, Cinzia; Müller, Jonas; Bonneau, Noémie; Boeni, Thomas; Frater, Nakita (2019). Morphology, pathology and the vertebral posture of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(11):4923-4927.

Abstract

Although the early postural reconstructions of the Neandertals as incompletely erect were rejected half a century ago, recent studies of Neandertal vertebral remains have inferred a hypolordotic, flat lower back and spinal imbalance for them, including the La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 skeleton. These studies form part of a persistent trend to view the Neandertals as less “human” than ourselves despite growing evidence for little if any differences in basic functional anatomy and behavioral capabilities. We have therefore reassessed the spinal posture of La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 using a new pelvic reconstruction to infer lumbar lordosis, interarticulation of lower lumbar (L4-S1) and cervical (C4-T2) vertebrae, and consideration of his widespread age-related osteoarthritis. La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 exhibits a pelvic incidence (and hence lumbar lordosis) similar to modern humans, articulation of lumbar and cervical vertebrae indicating pronounced lordosis, and Baastrup disease as a product of his advanced age, osteoarthritis, and lordosis. Our findings challenge the view of generally small spinal curvatures in Neandertals. Setting aside the developmentally abnormal Kebara 2 vertebral column, La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 is joined by other Neandertals with sufficient vertebral remains in providing them with a fully upright (and human) axial posture.

Abstract

Although the early postural reconstructions of the Neandertals as incompletely erect were rejected half a century ago, recent studies of Neandertal vertebral remains have inferred a hypolordotic, flat lower back and spinal imbalance for them, including the La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 skeleton. These studies form part of a persistent trend to view the Neandertals as less “human” than ourselves despite growing evidence for little if any differences in basic functional anatomy and behavioral capabilities. We have therefore reassessed the spinal posture of La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 using a new pelvic reconstruction to infer lumbar lordosis, interarticulation of lower lumbar (L4-S1) and cervical (C4-T2) vertebrae, and consideration of his widespread age-related osteoarthritis. La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 exhibits a pelvic incidence (and hence lumbar lordosis) similar to modern humans, articulation of lumbar and cervical vertebrae indicating pronounced lordosis, and Baastrup disease as a product of his advanced age, osteoarthritis, and lordosis. Our findings challenge the view of generally small spinal curvatures in Neandertals. Setting aside the developmentally abnormal Kebara 2 vertebral column, La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 is joined by other Neandertals with sufficient vertebral remains in providing them with a fully upright (and human) axial posture.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:25 February 2019
Deposited On:20 Mar 2019 16:25
Last Modified:24 Mar 2019 06:51
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1820745116
PubMed ID:30804177
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_156299
  • : Project TitleEvolutionary origin of major musculoskeletal disorders of modern humans
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_176319
  • : Project TitleBirth and human evolution - implications from computer-assisted reconstructions

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