Monday, 21 November 2011

Face It! Neanderthals Were Adapted to Carnivory

Relative to my previous posts* on the subject of the Neanderthal face, I've had an epiphany in the last couple of days. So, I thought I'd do a wee comparison between a modern day "top" carnivore and our cousin's, the Neanderthal, face. Do you see what I see in the image below? It looks as if the felid and the Neanderthal face have more in common than either has with the modern human. 
Top: Neanderthal (Forbes Quarry), modern human
Bottom: African lion
The lion has a keen sense of smell. Which of the bipedal cousins do you think has the better sense of smell? Relative to the rest of the face, the big cat has a nasal aperture that's equivalent in size to that of the Neanderthal. Not so that of the modern-day hominid on the right. 
     A cat can spot its prey from 3 km away. Can you? Do you think the Neanderthal could? 
     The cat has dagger-like fangs and molar teeth that would put a deli meat-slicer to shame. "Aha!" you might say, "that chap from Forbes quarry couldn't be as effective as the lion--it doesn't have the appropriate dental accoutrements!" Umm. It's possible, isn't it, that all those flint flakes lying about came in handy for more than whittling?
To my (admittedly impoverished compared to a carnivore's) eyes, it's as clear as the nose on your face day that the Neanderthal was well adapted to carnivory. 
     I've been accused before now of beating a dead horse. Is the "Neanderthals-are-just-like-us" horse dead yet? 
* Those earlier posts

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to see someone else had a similar line of thought concerning Neanderthal skull morphology. But is this the case?
    Ironically scans of Neanderthal brain casts seem to indicate that these ancients had SMALLER ofactory lobes than H Sapiens as well as a slightly different inner ear shape.


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