Paleontologists have figured out what the Neanderthal brain different from the brain of people

© Photo : Andres Diaz-CSIC CommunicationАнтонио Rosas, and the remains of the Neanderthal childPaleontologists have figured out what the Neanderthal brain different from the brain of people© Photo : Andres Diaz-CSIC Communication

. The brain of Neanderthal children for a long time continued to increase in size, which is not typical for modern people, found paleontologists, published an article in the journal Science.

«We asked a simple question – growing people and Neanderthals alike? We found that the brain of Neanderthal children has continued to increase in size even in seven years and that, overall, they grew more slowly than the children of CRO-magnon, in those same seven years the little Neanderthal looked like a five-year-old human child,» said Antonio Rosas (Antonio Rosas) from the National science Museum of Spain in Madrid.

Rosas and his colleagues made this discovery during excavations in the cave of El Sidron in the North of Spain, where about 50 thousand years ago lived some of the last populations of Neanderthals on Earth.

This cave has attracted the attention of archaeologists, paleontologists and the General public in 1994 when it found the remains of 13 Neanderthals who lived there, according to various estimates, about 47 to 50 thousand years ago.

The lack of animal bones in the cave is forcing scientists to believe that either she has served as cemetery of ancient natives of Europe or its inhabitants were cannibals who deliberately preyed on their own kind.

In the cave, as noted by Rosas, were found the remains of adult Neanderthals, and that has allowed scientists to study how quickly they grow, comparing differences in thickness and the bone structure, the volume of the cranium, and other anatomical features in children of different ages.

Overall, as scholars have noted, differences in the anatomy and the growth rate between CRO-magnons and Neanderthals were minimal. This once again confirms that Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis descended from a common ancestor that lived relatively recently.

On the other hand, such differences still exist, and most of all they were manifested in the growth and development of the brain and the skull. As shown by measurements of Rosas and his team, the skull of the Neanderthal child of seven years was considerably less than the adult, against 1300 1550 cubic centimeters. This suggests that the Neanderthal brain continued to grow until at least seven years.

For a person it is absolutely not the case – the development of the brain, usually completed by the second year of life, and subsequently its volume is not increased. Moreover, all the nerve cells are already present in the brain of the child to the birth and their number does not increase in subsequent years. Only increases the number of connections between them and the volume of the glial tissue that protects the neurons from damage.

With what may be due to the difference between Neanderthals and humans? Scientists believe that it arose due to the fact that the first inhabitants of Europe lived in much harsher conditions than the ancestors of the CRO-magnons. Brain growth in the womb or in the first years of life requires enormous resources, and its relatively slow development in Neanderthal children could help them and their parents to survive. A similar slowdown, as scientists believe, have occurred with the growth of the bones of the Neanderthals.

For this reason, the Neanderthal boy, whose remains were found in El Sidron, to the eighth year of life weighed 26 kilograms and the height 111 inches — that is behind in the development of human children by approximately two years. In addition, the researchers found signs that he suffered from malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

It is unclear whether the slow maturation of Neanderthal children one of the reasons for their extinction, but the researchers plan to test whether the Neanderthals were slowly growing up, studying the remains of other Neanderthal children from South Asian countries, where the climate was more favourable than in the North of Spain during the ice age.