ABSTRACTS & Links For Both Neanderthal Articles

Are Neanderthal Portraits Wrong?
Neanderthal Adaptations to Cold and their Impact on Palaeolithic Populations

By Duncan Caldwell
First published in Rock Art Research 2008 – Volume 25, Number 1, pp. 101-116.
KEYWORDS: Neanderthal – Osteology – Evolution – Sexuality
Abstract. On the basis of comparisons between the relative thickness of the walls of Neanderthal limb bones to those of the average modern human and the observation that bone mass increases as modern individuals add weight, this thought-piece proposes redefinitions of the appearance of cold-weather Neanderthals based on two biological adaptations to glacial climate. It suggests related biological and technological mechanisms for explaining the paucity of genetic or fossil evidence for extensive hybridisation between both early and recent Homo sapiens sapiens (‘Moderns’), on the one hand, and northern and western ‘classic’ Neanderthals, on the other. Its ‘insulation hypothesis’ includes an explanation of why a population resulting from an admixture of Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans may have been constrained to the Levant between at least c. 120–92 ka bp (H. sapiens sapiens at Skhul and Qafzeh) and c. 45 ka (H. sapiens sapiens at Geula). It goes on to propose reasons for the replacement of the classic Neanderthal suite of features after H. sapiens sapiens and at least some Neanderthals began showing modern behavioural adaptations and encountered one another as Moderns spread into or developed in western Eurasia during the initial Upper Palaeolithic.


NOTE: This is the first of two companion articles in which the author presents evidence that Neanderthal soft tissues, foraging behavior and diets were different from most reconstructions to date.

Afterthoughts about the Neanderthal insulation hypothesis
By Duncan Caldwell
First published in AURA Newsletter – The Newsletter of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (Aura) Inc. Volume 25, Number 2 October 2008 25/2
KEYWORDS: Neanderthal – Osteology – Evolution – Sexuality
Abstract. This paper extends an earlier proposal in Rock Art Research (Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 101–116) that the Neanderthal lineage adapted to cold climates by acquiring one or more forms of biological insulation. It also adjusts parallel proposals concerning Initial Upper Palaeolithic (IUP) population dynamics. Topics covered include:


  • A refined wording of the insulation hypothesis.
  • An explanation of why Neanderthal cranial and neck robusticity may have evolved independently from that of the lower body, suggesting why such robusticity may not be incompatible with the insulation hypothesis.
  • Explanations of why the functionally hairless bodies of cold-weather Inuits, Fuegians and Tasmanians may not be strong counter-arguments against the fur component of the insulation hypothesis.
  • A second insulation hypothesis, this time concerning Holocene Tasmanian women, whose adaptations to apnea diving and long-distance swimming in cold water may provide a partial explanation for the disappearance of bone tools and a change of diet in Tasmania before 3500 BP.
  • Proposals for why Neanderthals and Early Moderns may have had different motivations for making coverings, including clothing.
  • Fossil and lithic evidence supporting the previous article’s contention that a wave of genes derived largely from African Moderns spread from Asia into Europe during the IUP, creating a western Eurasian population with only modest admixtures of indigenous archaic populations. This involves evidence for an association between the earliest Aurignacian, Bohunician and Bachokirian behavioural packages and certain late Middle Palaeolithic and IUP Asian sites.
  • An argument that the changing morphology of Europeans during the transition from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Upper Palaeolithic can not be explained by anything as simple as in-situ evolution from robusticity to gracile traits, since the process on the bulbous chins of Moderns throughout the world shows that our lineage actually acquired a bony process during its period of overall gracilisation — a process which first appears in early African Moderns, before becoming generalised.
  • A discussion of the relevance of the ulcer-creating bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, to the contention that Middle Palaeolithic European Robusts (Neanderthals) account for a large part of the legacy of modern Europeans.
  • Most importantly, a review of evidence that Neanderthals collected seeds and starchy plant storage organs, which contained their greatest energy potential during the autumn and winter. This provides a partial explanation for how Neanderthals could have built up a seasonal sub-cutaneous fat layer for insulation before the advent of weather-tight clothing.



From Duncan Caldwell:
“The contents of the two articles are basically summarized in a series of corrections concerning National Geographic’s Neanderthal article, which I posted in the following blog on the Nat Geo web site and will paste below.”
National Geographic’s Neanderthal Blog
The link contains the latest up-dates to the continuing discussion.


Amateur Archaeologist Journal


The Amateur Archaeologist welcomes articles and communications from members; please note that authors waive any claim to copyright if they submit materials for publishing in the Society’s journal.

Advertisers are welcome, and they need not be members of the ASAA. Please write for advertising rate cards and specifications. The Society does not furnish its membership list to anyone or any organization for promotional mailings.