Neanderthal Essay

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Neanderthals were a species of archaic humans who migrated out of Africa and into Europe and Asia. However, around 40,000 years ago the large populations of Neanderthals died off and became extinct. The mysterious circumstances that surrounded their extinction drove various research teams to undertake the task of excavating numerous Neanderthal sites to collect fossilized bones, and artifacts in order to learn more about this group of ancestral humans. Over the past years, major technological advances have allowed researches to analyze the fossilized remains of the Neanderthals which led to major discoveries. For example, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology found that the ear ossicles of Neanderthals and modern humans had similar functions but differed in terms of structure. In the study, the researchers used high-resolution computer tomography (CT) to scan numerous Neanderthal skulls from different sites in order to determine if there are ossicles present in the middle ear cavity (tympanic membrane). The scans revealed ossicles in fourteen different skulls which came as a surprise to the researchers since the bones of the ossicles are fragile and break down easily in the soil. The researchers then used microcomputed tomography scans and 3D geometric morphometrics in order to virtually reconstruct the bones of the ossicles which are composed of the malleus, incus and stapes. The 3D reconstructions of the ossicles allowed the scientists to

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