How strong were the Neandertals? Leverage and muscularity at the shoulder and elbow in mousterian foragers
Strength - the ability to exert relatively large forces on objects in the external world -was lively a critical component of Neandertal adaptation to Pleistocene Eurasia. Neandertal postcranial skeletons tend to be robust, reflecting a body that was well adapted to generating and withstanding large forces. A consideration of the size of muscle attachment sites and of mechanical advantage (or leverage) in the upper limb of Neandertals, early modern humans and recent human samples reveals pronounced upper body strength in the Neandertals relative to most modern humans. Upper body strength was probably important to hunting success in the context of close-range hunting with hand-delivered weapons, and greater strength probably increased the diversity of prey species the Neandertals could hunt. Long-range projectile weaponry, as possibly employed by early modern humans, would have relaxed to a great degree the need for upper body strength in hunting success.
Churchill, SE; Rhodes, JA
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