Re: Neanderthals' Noses Blow Scientists Away

Stephen Barnard (
Wed, 02 Oct 1996 19:57:16 -0800

Ralph L Holloway wrote:
> On Tue, 1 Oct 1996, Stephen Barnard wrote:
> > I saw a piece in the paper this morning that described how scientists
> > have discovered a radical difference between the noses of Neanderthals
> > and modern humans. (Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural
> > History and Jeffrey Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh)
> >
> > They claim that this difference would "force a reorganization of the
> > sinuses and the delicate membranelike bones called turbinates." The
> > claim is that this difference, along with other long recognized
> > differences in musculature, brow ridges, etc. lead to the conclusion
> > that Neanderthals were a distinct species.
> >
> > Predictably, Milford Wolpoff was unimpressed.
> >
> I guess that until we find a snot-ridden kleenex embedded in a block of
> ice, we just won't know. Seriously, I know of no evidence relating to the
> turbinate bones in Neandertals(inferior conchae, and superior and medial
> of the ethmoid ). They, much as in our own species, or
> subspecies (whichever you prefer), are too delicate for survival. Why
> these bones would lead (or add) to enough reproductive isolation for
> speciation would probably best be studied by cartoonists....I can hardly
> wait for the first discovery of an intact Neandertal medial conchae...
> Sorry for the irreverance,
> R. Holloway

I'll quote the article in detail:

"[The bumps] are oblong, vertical swellings in the bone along the sides
of the roughly triangular nasal hole of the skull. By contrast, modern
humans and all primates have smaller bumps that run at right angles to
the ones reported by Schwartz and Tattersall."

"'It is amazing that nobody noticed this before,' Tattersall said. He
and Schwartz found them while studying Neanderthal skulls that have
been in varous museum collections for years, some for more than a

"Small as they may appear to the uninitiated, the bumps would force a
reorganization of Neanderthal sinuses and the delicate membranelike
bones called turbinates within the nose itself, Tattersall said. These
distinct differences, coupled with the heavy musculature, the protruding
face, and low, long skull 'really show this was a different species.'
Accordingly, in the paper they refer to it as Homo Neanderthalensis."

Steve Barnard

P.S. I take no position on this, because I don't have the expertise to
evaluate it. I'm just reporting what I read.