Researchers from the University of California at Davis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig digitally reconstructed the pelvis of a Neanderthal female found in the Tabun Cave in Israel. The virtual model provides valuable insight into how early humans gave birth.
From the announcement issued by Max Planck Institute:
The size of Tabun’s reconstructed birth canal shows that Neanderthal childbirth was about as difficult as in present-day humans. However, its shape indicates that Neanderthals retained a more primitive birth mechanism than modern humans, without rotation of the baby’s body.
A significant shift in childbirth apparently happened quite late in human evolution, during the last 400,000 – 300,000 years. Such a late shift underscores the uniqueness of human childbirth and the divergent evolutionary trajectories of Neanderthals and the lineage leading to present-day humans.
The virtual reconstruction of the pelvis from Tabun is going to be the first of its kind to be available for download on the internet for everyone interested in human evolution. The computer files will be available from the websites of University of California at Davis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Press release: “You will give birth in pain”: Neanderthals too …
Image: Virtual reconstruction of the pelvis of a female Neanderthal from Tabun (Israel). The colours indicate the individual bone fragments that were fit together. The gray wedge shows the estimated configuration of the sacrum (lower part of the spinal column). Credit: Tim Weaver, University of California