Even then, the twin noted that their conclusions were based on small and possibly unrepresentative samples. And after 17 years, Trinkaus doubled his idea completely, noting that later studies had found similar patterns of injury among the Pleistocene people who lived with the Neanderthals. The Rodeo Rider case, he said, should be "more qualified, if not simply withdrawn". (Trinkaus refused to interview this story.)
But the case and the wider concept of the highly injured Neanderthals were attached to popular consciousness as diligently as a imagined Neanderthal with the back of a mammoth. Some researchers argued that their often broken bodies would prevent Neanderthals from effectively passing through their technological skills. Others claimed that they could only survive their common wounds through medical understanding.
But in a new study – the largest of its kind – Katerina Harbati and her colleagues at the University of Tübingen showed that head injuries were actually not so common in Neanderthals, and certainly not more than in the modern Homo sapiens. "This means that the Neanderthal trauma does not require its own specific explanations and that the risk and the danger were so part of Neanderthal's life as well as our evolutionary past," writes Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge, accompanying editorial .
"THE [high frequency of] head trauma has been used to claim that they were more violent of each other or that they were hunting in a more specific way, "says Harvati." We've got a bit of evidence about it. It is important to reconsider our assumptions about their behaviors. "
Other studies have come to similar conclusions, but no one has examined such a large number of skeletons, says Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux studying Neanderthals. "It really is [helps] to push back the stunning image of the Neanderthals that they have massive blows on a body, "he says. This image continued partly because" it seemed to be a real reason why we it was supposed to be more successful. Having clear evidence to deny that, based on a really good sample size, [adds to] the growing view that there were many similarities of behavior between the two species. "
This study adds to the ongoing creation of Neanderthals, which has long been portrayed as inappropriate and simple. It is clear that they used tools, used fire, made art, buried their dead and perhaps even had tongue.
With the combination of previous studies, Harvati colleague Judith Beier compared the skulls of 114 Neanderthals and 90 modern people, all of whom lived in Europe and Asia from 20,000 to 80,000 years ago. (The term "modern man" is mentioned here Homo sapiens, instead of the current people.) He estimated that between 4 and 33% of the Neanderthals would have some kind of head injury, compared to 2 to 34% of contemporary modern humans.