On the left is a neanderthal skull from France and on the right is a modern human skull from Polynesia
Neanderthals are a hot topic in the world of archaeology. Recently on this site, we reviewed the long running debate on how the neanderthals disappeared so rapidly by asking whether they were the victims of inbreeding with early humans.
A new discovery in Ethiopia could lead to the conclusion that inbreeding occurred much, much earlier as we’re told that the earliest humans had neanderthal qualities. Here’s an excerpt:
The world’s first known modern human was a tall, thin individual — probably male — who lived around 200,000 years ago and resembled present-day Ethiopians, save for one important difference: He retained a few primitive characteristics associated with Neanderthals, according to a series of forthcoming studies conducted by multiple international research teams.
The extraordinary findings, which will soon be outlined in a special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution devoted to the first known Homo sapiens, also reveal information about the material culture of the first known people, their surroundings, possible lifestyle and, perhaps most startling, their probable neighbors — Homo erectus.
“Omo I,” as the researchers refer to the find, would probably have been considered healthy-looking and handsome by today’s standards, despite the touch of Neanderthal.
“From the size of the preserved bones, we estimated that Omo I was tall and slender, most likely around 5’10” tall and about 155 pounds,” University of New Mexico anthropologist Osbjorn Pearson, who co-authored at least two of the new papers, told Discovery News.
Pearson said another, later fossil was also recently found. It too belonged to a “moderately tall — around 5’9″ — and slender individual.”