This is one of the great unsolved mysteries of anthropology. What kills the Neanderthals and why does Homo sapien s flourish even when the Neanderthals have disappeared? Was there any plague specific to the Neanderthals only? Has there been any cataclysmic event in their Eurasian homeland that would lead to their disappearance?
A new study by a team of physical anthropologists and head and neck anatomists suggests a less dramatic but equally deadly cause.
Published online from the journal The Anatomical Record of the study "Reconstructing the Neanderthal Eustachian Tube: A New Look at Disease Sensitivity, Fitness Costs and Extinction" suggests that the true culprit is non-caecal ectopic pathogen.
Instead, the authors believe that the path to extinction may have been the most common and harmless of childhood diseases ̵
"It may sound a long way off, but when we first reconstructed the Eustachian tubes of Neanderthals, they found that they were remarkably similar to those of human babies," said co-researcher and associate professor Saul Marquez of Downstate Health Sciences University, the middle ear is almost ubiquitous between babies because the flat angle of the baby's eustachian tubes tends to hold back the otitis bacteria that cause these infections – the same flat angle we found in Neanderthals. "
In this age of antibiotics, these infections are easy to treat and relatively benign to human babies. In addition, around the age of 5, the eustachian tubes in human children lengthen and the angle becomes more acute, allowing the ear
But unlike modern humans, the structure of Eustachian tubes in Neanderthals does not change with age – which means that these ear infections and their complications, incl spiratorni infections, hearing loss, pneumonia and worse, will not only become chronic, but also a threat to all life on overall health and survival.
"not only the threat of death from infection," said Dr. Marquez. "If you are constantly ill, you will not be so fit and efficient to compete with your cousins Homo sapien for food and other resources." In a world of survival for the fittest, it is no wonder that the modern man, not the Neanderthal, prevails. "
" The strength of the study lies in the reconstruction of the cartilage Eustachian tube, "says Richard Rosenfeld, MD, MBA, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate and a world-renowned authority on children's health." It is this new and unknown understanding of middle-ear function in the Neanderthal that allows us to draw new conclusions about their effects on health and fitness. "
" Here is another intriguing twist on the ever-evolving history of the Neanderthal, this time including part of a body then, that researchers almost entirely neglected, "said Ian Tattersall, Ph.D., paleoanthropology and Curator Emeritus of the American Museum of National History." gradually the picture of the Neanderthals as very close relatives, which nevertheless differ in a decisive attitude from the modern man, is emerging. "
The ancient history of Neanderthals in Europe
Anthony Santino Pagano et al., Reconstructing the Neanderthal Eustachian Tube: New Knowledge of Disease Susceptibility, Fitness Costs, and Extinction, Anatomical Record (2019). Doi: 10.1002 / ar.24248
SUNY Downstate Health Science University
Did Neanderthals Take Down Common Disease? (2019, September 19)
Downloaded September 19, 2019
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