Re: Neanderthals' Noses Blow Scientists Away

Don Staples (
Thu, 03 Oct 1996 09:25:33 -0700

Stephen Barnard wrote:
> 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
> century."
> "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.

Nor I, but I seem to remember from some early course work that the
Neandertal skulls would not be out of place in the range of modern
skulls. Further, that some of the difference can be accounted for by the
nature of life at the time. Heavy muscular development has deformed
skeletal structure even unto this day. Sinus and nose abaration,what
about constant exposure to cold? Compare Neandertal to modern cold
climate humans for similarities.

Species identification needs more precision than the limited factor of
singular observations. I beleave that there are enough racial
differences in modern man to allow destinction by race from skeletal
structure, but all HS.