Glimpse of Neanderthal life captured by footprints in sands of time
Immaculately preserved footsteps offer major clues about the social structures of our evolutionary cousins
Like modern humans and primates, Neanderthals – our closest evolutionary cousins – are thought to have lived in groups, but their size and composition have been difficult to infer from archaeological and fossil remains.
Now scientists have reported the discovery of 257 footprints along France’s Normandy shore that were immaculately preserved over 80,000 years, offering major new clues into the social structures of its prehistoric inhabitants.
Their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, suggests the band numbered 10 to 13 individuals, mostly children and adolescents, along with a few very tall, likely male adults, who could have been up to 190cm in height, judging from foot size...