Neanderthals often suffered from bony growths nowadays known as & # 39; surfers' & # 39; that is caused by regular exposure to cold water or cool air
- & # 39; Surfers ear & # 39; describes abnormal bone growth in the ear canal
- Experts examined well-preserved ear canals in the remains of 77 old people
- About half of the 23 Neanderthal remains examined showed & # 39; Surfer & # 39; s ear & # 39;
- This is at least twice as much as in almost every other population studied
Abnormal bony growths known as & # 39; surfer & # 39; s ear & # 39; were surprisingly common in Neanderthals, according to a new study.
Surfer's ear, or external auditory exostoses (EAE) as they are medically known, are abnormal bone growth in the ear canal.
They are caused by repeated exposure to cold water and wind, making the bones around the ear canal thicker to defend the inner ear.
Such EAE's have been previously discovered in the remains of old people, but few have investigated how the condition could affect our understanding of their lifestyle.
Experts say the findings suggest that the Neanderthals suffering from the condition may have spent a lot of time fishing and foraging in water.
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Abnormal bony growths known as & # 39; surfer & # 39; s ear & # 39; were surprisingly common in Neanderthals, according to a new study. Surfer's ear, or external auditory exostoses (EAE) as they are medically known, are abnormal bone growth in the ear canal (square left, close-up right)
WHAT IS SURFERS EAR?
Surfer's ear, medically known as exostosis, an abnormal bone growth in the ear canal.
It is sometimes called the ear of a simmer – although this should not be confused with the more general bacterial infection associated with this term.
Surfer & # 39; s ear is caused by repeated exposure to cold water and wind, which makes bone around the ear canal thicker to defend the inner ear.
This creates narrowing in the ear canal, sometimes to the point of complete blockage.
Surfers and swimmers are not the only ones at risk because exostosis growth can result from any activity that exposes the participant to cold water or wet conditions and wind.
Researchers from the University of Washington investigated well-preserved ear canals in the remains of 77 ancient people, including Neanderthals and early modern people from the Middle and Late Pleistocene era of Western Eurasia.
Although the early modern human samples showed similar frequencies of EAE & # 39; s as modern human samples, the condition was exceptionally common in Neanderthals.
Approximately half of the 23 Neanderthal remains examined exhibited mild to severe EAE's – at least twice the frequency observed in almost every other population studied.
& # 39; An exceptionally high frequency of EAE & # 39; s among the Neandertals, and a more modest level among the upper upper paleolithic modern humans, indicate a higher frequency of exploitation of aquatic resources among both groups of people than suggested by the archaeological record, & # 39; study author Erik Zei Trinkaus in a written statement.
& # 39; In particular, it reinforces the foraging skills and diversity of resources of the Neandertals. & # 39;
Experts say the findings suggest that the Neanderthals (photo) suffering from the condition may have spent a lot of time fishing and foraging in water (artist & # 39; s impression)
However, the researchers warn that they have not established a clear link with aquatic foraging.
The geographical distribution of EAE & # 39; s in Neanderthals shows no definitive correlation with the proximity of old water sources or with cooler climates, as might be expected.
The authors suggest that multiple factors were probably involved in this large amount of EAE's.
This probably included both environmental factors and genetic predisposition.
Further research may shed more light on which of these factors played a greater role in the prevalence of EAEs among these Neanderthals.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
WHO WERE THE NEANDERTHALEN?
The Neanderthals were a close-knit human ancestor who died mysteriously about 50,000 years ago.
The species lived in Africa with early humans for hundreds of millennia before moving to Europe 500,000 years ago.
They were later accompanied by people who made the same journey in the last 100,000 years.
The Neanderthals were a sort of human cousin, but not a direct ancestor – the two species separated from a common ancestor – who died about 50,000 years ago. Pictured is an exhibition of the Neanderthal museum
These were the original & # 39; cavemen & # 39 ;, traditionally thought to be stupid and cheeky compared to modern people.
However, in recent years, and especially in the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that we are selling Neanderthals briefly.
A growing number of clues indicate a more advanced and multi-talented species & # 39; caveman & # 39; than someone thought possible.
It now seems likely that Neanderthals have buried their dead with the concept of an afterlife in mind.
Moreover, their diets and behavior were surprisingly flexible.
They used body art such as pigments and beads, and they were the very first artists, with Neanderthal cave art (and symbolism) in Spain apparently dating back to the earliest modern human art around 20,000 years.
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