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Early life of Neanderthals

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The early onset of weaning in modern humans has been linked to the high nutritional demand of brain development that is intimately connected with infant physiology and growth rate. In Neanderthals, ontogenetic patterns in early life are still debated, with some studies suggesting an accelerated development and others indicating only subtle differences vs. modern humans. Here we report the onset of weaning and rates of enamel growth using an unprecedented sample set of three late (∼70 to 50 ka) Neanderthals and one Upper Paleolithic modern human from northeastern Italy via spatially resolved chemical/isotopic analyses and histomorphometry of deciduous teeth. Our results reveal that the modern human nursing strategy, with onset of weaning at 5 to 6 mo, was present among these Neanderthals. This evidence, combined with dental development akin to modern humans, highlights their similar metabolic constraints during early life and excludes late weaning as a factor contributing to Neanderthals’ demise.

UOW Authors


  •   Tuniz, Claudio (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Nava, A., Lugli, F., Romandini, M., Badino, F., Evans, D., Helbling, A. H., . . . Benazzi, S. (2020). Early life of Neanderthals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(46), 28719-28726. doi:10.1073/pnas.2011765117

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85096361152

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 28719

End Page


  • 28726

Volume


  • 117

Issue


  • 46

Abstract


  • The early onset of weaning in modern humans has been linked to the high nutritional demand of brain development that is intimately connected with infant physiology and growth rate. In Neanderthals, ontogenetic patterns in early life are still debated, with some studies suggesting an accelerated development and others indicating only subtle differences vs. modern humans. Here we report the onset of weaning and rates of enamel growth using an unprecedented sample set of three late (∼70 to 50 ka) Neanderthals and one Upper Paleolithic modern human from northeastern Italy via spatially resolved chemical/isotopic analyses and histomorphometry of deciduous teeth. Our results reveal that the modern human nursing strategy, with onset of weaning at 5 to 6 mo, was present among these Neanderthals. This evidence, combined with dental development akin to modern humans, highlights their similar metabolic constraints during early life and excludes late weaning as a factor contributing to Neanderthals’ demise.

UOW Authors


  •   Tuniz, Claudio (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Nava, A., Lugli, F., Romandini, M., Badino, F., Evans, D., Helbling, A. H., . . . Benazzi, S. (2020). Early life of Neanderthals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(46), 28719-28726. doi:10.1073/pnas.2011765117

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85096361152

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 28719

End Page


  • 28726

Volume


  • 117

Issue


  • 46