Neanderthals bit like we do, according to an article in Science, vol 308, p1110, 20 May 2005. The usual explanation for the distinctive shape of the Neanderthal face bones, especially the long mandible (lower jaw) is that the Neanderthal face “evolved to maximise biting power, especially at the front teeth which in many Neanderthals show signs of extreme wear.” To test this theory, a research team led by Robert Franciscus, an anthropologist at the University of Iowa, used a biomechanical model to estimate the maximum forces generated at various points on the jaw and teeth of three Neanderthal skulls and compared them with “anatomically modern humans”. They found no difference in the strength of the bite between them, and suggested that the heavily worn teeth in Neanderthals were due to more repetitive use, rather that stronger jaws. According to Science, this study “takes a bite” out of the proposition that modern human faces evolved finer features because they cooked food and used more sophisticated tools.
Editorial Comment: Ever since the first Neanderthal skulls were found we have known they had larger brains than today’s average. Add to that the biomechanical study which has shown Neanderthal hands functioned like modern human hands, plus these new results, and the end result is simply more evidence Neanderthals were human beings who were battling to survive increasingly difficult circumstances. These observations fit well the Biblical history of the human race which tells us that after God’s judgement at Babel, small groups of people moved out over the earth, which was undergoing rapid and erratic climate changes in the aftermath of Noah’s flood. Neanderthals mostly lived in mountainous regions of Europe, where they would have endured cold dark winters, a poor diet and scarce resources for making tools and shelter. It is no wonder they ended up with deformed bones and arthritis, and, given the Bible’s teaching that man lived much longer then, the odd result of over-worn teeth. (Ref. anthropology, mandible, biomechanics)