Portrait of an 8-year-old Neanderthal boy who lived more than 30,000 years ago is REVEALED
The face of an eight-year-old Neanderthal boy who died more than 30,000 years ago has been reconstructed by scientists using a skull first found in the Teshik-Tash cave in Uzbekistan in 1938.
The portrait is the first three-dimensional restoration of a Neanderthal skull fossil, revealing that the boy had a small, upturned nose that sank into his face.
The fossil is the first Neanderthal fossil discovered in Asia and the only complete Asian Neanderthal skull fossil preserved to date.
The team, led by China’s Jilin University and Russia’s Moscow State University, believe the restoration shows the facial shape of prehistoric humans in Eurasia and shows the morphological features of Neanderthals in Central Asia.
The portrait reveals that the boy had a small, upturned nose that sank into his face.
The skull, named Teshik-Tash 1, was found in a shallow pit inside the cave, along with five pairs of Siberian ibex horns and bird skeletons.
And this suggests that he was ritually buried.
However, it wasn’t until 2021 that researchers at the Max Planck Institute determined that the child was a Neanderthal.
The team analyzed the frontal bone of the skull and noted that the shape matched that of earlier Neanderthal skulls.
And a DNA analysis showed that Teshik-Tash 1 carried Neanderthal-like mtDNA.
With an estimated age of eight years, the boy had physically matured enough to exhibit distinctive Neanderthal characteristics, such as a large face and nasal area, a long low skull, a chinless jaw, and a receding browbone. maturation.
The original skull was reconstructed from approximately 150 fragments.
The team uploaded a scan of the skull and filled in the missing pieces, allowing them to superimpose digital muscles, skin, and ending up with the boy’s facial features.
“Fossils of Neanderthals, an extinct relative of modern humans, were first discovered in the Neanderthal Valley in Germany and were once widely distributed in Eurasia,” the Jilin University team leader told Xinhua. Zhang Quanchao.
It was long believed that Neanderthals only roamed the landscapes of Europe during the last ice age, but a study led by the University of Washington in 2015 revealed that they may have spread farther east and lived there alongside humans. modern for longer than previously thought.
Analysis of traces of Neanderthal DNA found in the genomes of modern humans has shown that people in East Asia have 15 to 30 percent more Neanderthal DNA than Europeans.
Joshua Akey, a geneticist at the University of Washington, and his colleague Benjamin Vernot analyzed distinctive patterns in the DNA of 379 modern Europeans and 286 modern East Asians from China and Japan.
The skull was initially found in the Teshik-Tash cave in Uzbekistan in 1938 and it was not until 2012 that the boy was confirmed to be a Neanderthal.
The team uploaded a scan of the skull and filled in the missing pieces. The skull was found in pieces, but scientists put it back together
Using computer models, they tried to simulate how the Neanderthal DNA admixtures seen in the genomes of Europe and East Asia might have occurred.
They concluded that one theory, that modern Europeans interbred more with populations in Africa to dilute the Neanderthal DNA they carried, was unlikely.
Instead, they found that the ancestors of East Asian populations were more likely to have interbred with Neanderthals more than once.
After stitching together the skull with technology, the team was able to overlay digital muscles and skin.
“One thing that complicates these analyzes is the fact that humans have been constantly migrating throughout their history, which makes it difficult to say exactly where interactions with Neanderthals occurred,” Vernot said.
“It is possible, for example, that all interbreeding with Neanderthals occurred in the Middle East, before the ancestors of modern non-Africans spread across Eurasia.
“In the paper’s model, the ancestors of all non-Africans interbred with Neanderthals and then split into multiple groups that would later become European, East Asian.
The skull was also the easternmost point of hominin discoveries outside of the Levant. The team believes that the restoration shows the facial shape of prehistoric humans in Eurasia and shows the morphological characteristics of Neanderthals in Central Asia.
“Shortly after splitting up, the ancestors of East Asians interbred a bit more with Neanderthals.
“What’s important is that we show that we didn’t just encounter Neanderthals once in our history, we seem to have encountered them multiple times.”
“But as we can look at individuals from more and more populations, hopefully we’ll have a better idea of where our ancestors have been, and where they may have interacted with Neanderthals.”