Analysis shows that comparing ancient and modern bone breaks yields little insight into hominids’ everyday dangers
NEW ORLEANS — Rodeo riders’ recent scientific reputation, as the best modern examples of a Neandertal pattern of excess head knocks, has taken a tumble. Taking their place: People who like to be dragged behind powerboats on big inner tubes, among others.
An exhaustive comparison of Neandertals’ injuries to those of people today finds that water tubing and mishaps involving tables, not rodeo riding, result in top-heavy fracture patterns most similar to those observed on Neandertal fossils. This analysis illustrates just how little modern evidence reveals about ways in which our evolutionary relatives ended up so battered, said anthropologist Libby Cowgill of the University of Missouri in Columbia. She presented data highlighting the mystery of Neandertals’ many preserved bone fractures on April 22 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
Her study, conducted with Missouri anthropologist James