Neandertals and rickets

Jim Foley (
28 Nov 94 20:05:21 GMT

Francis Ivanhoe wrote a paper in Nature in 1970 (Aug 8) called "Was
Virchow right about Neanderthal?". Virchow in the last century was one
of the major opponents of the idea that Neandertals were a primitive
form of human. He argued that Neandertal features were caused by
diseases, including rickets.

Ivanhoe gives evidence that Neandertals all suffered from vitamin
deficiency and rickets, and that the degree of these problems is
correlated with the latitude at which they are found. It's unclear to
me whether he is asking if Virchow was right about rickets, or whether
he also accepts Virchow's claims that Neandertals were normal people
whose skeletons were deformed by diseases (I suspect the latter).

Trinkaus and Shipman's "The Neandertals" takes it as a given that the
differences between us and Neandertals were genetic, not pathological.
Virchow's claims are considered to have been disproved a century ago.
What is the current opinion on Ivanhoe's work? Is he in a minority of

Jim Foley

Jim Foley (303) 223-5100 x9765
Jim.Foley@FtCollinsCO.NCR.COM NCR-MPD Fort Collins