The structure and size of Neanderthal nose help warm up inhaled air

Being compared to modern humans, the structure of Neanderthal nose allows them to warm and moisten the inhaled air, which protects them from the cold more effectively.

According to the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the scientists have anecdotal evidence supporting the theory that compared to modern humans, the Neanderthal nose structure allows them to warm and moisten the inhaled air.

In addition, Neanderthals can breathe more air than modern humans. Neanderthals appeared in Europe about 240,000 years ago and experienced some glacial periods and a warmer climate. They differ from modern humans in some anatomical attributes, including the larger nose, a slightly different structure of teeth and cheekbone.


At present, there are several theories that explain these differences. First, the researchers believe that compared to the Sapiens, Neanderthals with strong bite strength increased pressure on the incisors and fangs. The wear and tear of the teeth in Neanderthal remains is proof of this hypothesis. Second, the nose is larger than the nose of the Sapiens, probably to better protect the body in cool and dry climates, which warms and moistens the inhaled air. According to the third hypothesis, the larger nose of the Neanderthals helps them to have a more efficient gas system, which allows them to inhale and exhale more air than modern humans. The Neanderthals are larger than the Sapiens, and according to anthropologists, therefore they consume more energy.

To test these hypotheses, anthropologists and doctors from the United States, England, Germany and Australia, led by Stephen Wroe at the University of New England, have scanned and mapped the 3D skulls of 5 Neanderthals, two Heidelbergs (which are thought to be the ancestors of both Neanderthals and Sapiens) and 12 skulls of modern humans living in different parts of the world, including Europeans and Africans and the Inuit - a group of indigenous people living in the Arctic regions of Canada, Denmark, Russia and the United States.

A Neanderthal skull (left) with that of a Homo sapiens

 The results of the computer model show that the Neanderthal bite force is no stronger than some modern humans. At the same time, the volume of the Neanderthal mid-nasal cavity is one-third greater than that of the Sapiens and nearly 40% larger than that of the Heidelberg. In addition, compared to anatomy of modern human, the structure of the Neanderthal nose is improved, which clearly allows the Neanderthals not only to heat and moisten the air in an effective way, but also put through it the nearly double amount of air.

Previously, researchers analyzed the tartar of Neanderthals, the results suggested that ancient people could adapt to different foods and might already have used both plants and fungi for their healing purposes.

By: Stephan Swift

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