Exostoses of the ear canal — more commonly called swimmer’s ear — were surprisingly common in Neanderthals, according to new research by scientists from the United States and France. […]
In the study, Washington University researcher Erik Trinkaus and his colleagues from the University of Bordeaux and CNRS examined well-preserved ear canals in the remains of 77 ancient humans, including Neanderthals, archaic and early modern humans.
While the samples of archaic (20%) and early modern humans (Middle Paleolithic – 25%, Early/Mid Upper Paleolithic – 20.8%, Late Upper Paleolithic – 9.5%) exhibited similar frequencies of exostoses to modern human samples, the condition was exceptionally common (56.5%) in Neanderthals.
Approximately half of the 23 Neanderthal remains examined exhibited mild to severe exostoses.
“The most likely explanation for this pattern is that these Neanderthals spent a significant amount of time collecting resources in aquatic settings,” Dr. Trinkaus and co-authors said.
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