Why are scientists so sure that Neanderthals were experienced swimmers?


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How do you imagine our distant ancestors of the Neanderthals, who lived thousands of years ago? You probably have a picture of somber people with rough facial features and massive muscles chasing large animals in the vastness of the cold Eurasia. It is believed that at that time they could not fully control their upright posture, but a study carried out by archaeologists from the US state of Colorado shows that they were still able to swim very well. Thanks to this skill, they were able to lift strong shells from the sea floor and make tools from them. But how exactly did scientists find out?

Neanderthals could not fully control their upright posture, but they could swim

The discovery by archaeologists was described in a scientific publication called Plos One. Already in 1949 a cave called Moserini was found in the area of ​​modern Italy. Now it is no longer available for research, but previous scientists could find at least 167 shells with polished edges in it. According to scientists, they could serve as tools for the old Neanderthals. If so, our ancestors made strange knives and scrapers more than 100,000 years ago.

Found in the cave of Moserini shells obtained from Neanderthals

When did people learn to swim?

When examining the mussels found, archaeologists found that 40 of them had a smooth and shiny inner surface. The rest of the shells were scratched by the waves and sand. According to the researchers, this difference is due to the fact that some of the shells were found on the shore by old people. But those who kept a smooth inner surface were clearly mined from the sea floor by Neanderthals.

At least 40 trays found kept a smooth inner surface

It turned out that the Neanderthals, who were not considered to be particularly smart ancestors of humans, were not so stupid. According to researchers, old people looking for fresh mussels that were stronger than thrown on land could dive two to four meters deep. It is currently unknown whether shellfish was used as food in ancient times. But the fact that they made tools out of shells is a fact.

See also: Could Cro-Magnons arrange the genocide of Neanderthals?

For some, the lack of evidence seems to make the assumption of scientists not true enough. Important arguments that Neanderthals were able to swim were published in the trade journal Plos One in 2019. By examining the remains of old people, scientists were able to detect the so-called exostoses in their ear canals. These ossifications in the ear canals are still common among professional swimmers and are the result of cold water in the ears. Isn't this strong evidence that Neanderthals could swim?

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Thanks to the study, scientists have identified another common trait between modern humans and Neanderthals. You can also read about the life of our longtime ancestors in other articles that are published on our website. Did you know, for example, that Neanderthals often ate each other because of climate change?