Trove of Neanderthal Footprints Provide an Unprecedented Glimpse Into Prehistoric Life
Gizmodo.com - Tue 10 Sep 21:44 GMT

Scientists in France have discovered hundreds of fossilized footprints belonging to a single group of Neanderthals. At 80,000 years old, the prints chronicle a single, precious moment in the lives of these extinct hominins.

  A fossilized Neanderthal footprint found at the Le Rozel site in Normandy, France.Image: Dominique Cliquet Scientists in France have discovered hundreds of fossilized footprints belonging to a single group of Neanderthals.

  Meticulous excavations at the Le Rozel Site in Normandy, France, from 2012 to 2017 have revealed 257 fossilized Neanderthal footprints, an analysis of which is published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  Excavations at Le Rozel in Normandy, France.Image: Dominique Cliquet No Neanderthal bones were unearthed at the site, but the prints were associated with “abundant archeological material,” according to the paper, including stone tools, evidence of animal butchery, fire pits, and areas used for flintknapping.

  By analyzing the impressions and comparing them to Neanderthal fossils found elsewhere, Duveau and his team were able to confirm the footprints as belonging to the extinct hominins.

  Conventional estimates place the average height of Neanderthals at around 166 centimeters (5 feet, 5 inches) for males and 154 cm (5 feet) for females, but measurements of the Le Rozel footprints suggests some Neanderthals were quite tall.

  Specifically, the researchers discovered relatively long footprints, possibly belonging to a male Neanderthal, that correspond to an individual between 175 cm (5 feet, 9 inches) to 190 cm (6 feet, 2.8 inches), with confidence leaning toward the shorter figure.

  A re-analysis of a 50,000 year old Neanderthal skull shows that, in addition to enduring multiple… Read more Read The image of teens and children running around—making footprints in the mud while their parents toil away at their daily chores—is consistent with what we’re learning about Neanderthals and a far cry from the outdated image of them as unintelligent, violent brutes.