Neonatal postcrania from Mezmaiskaya, Russia, and Le Moustier, France, and the development of Neandertal body form
Neandertal and modern human adults differ in skeletal features of the cranium and postcranium, and it is clear that many of the cranial differences—although not all of them—are already present at the time of birth. We know less, however, about the developmental origins of the postcranial differences. Here, we address this deficiency with morphometric analyses of the postcrania of the two most complete Neandertal neonates—Mezmaiskaya 1 (from Russia) and Le Moustier 2 (from France)—and a recent human sample. We find that neonatal Neandertals already appear to possess the wide body, long pubis, and robust long bones of adult Neandertals. Taken together, current evidence indicates that skeletal differences between Neandertals and modern humans are largely established by the time of birth.