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Neanderthals in popular culture in the last two centuries
Antonio Profico (Our Body, Speaker)
Our perception of Neanderthal culture and cognitive skills has changed dramatically during the last two centuries. After the discovery of the first fossil specimens, Neanderthals were described as brute, clumsy, and savage. In recent years, scientists have revealed that Neanderthals had a complex symbolism that contributed to the manufacturing of ornaments. The focus of this talk is to describe how our perception of Neanderthals has changed over the last two centuries as our knowledge of their genetics, adaptations to the environment and culture has dramatically improved.
Lou Albessard Ball (Our Body Speaker)
What makes us “human”? Is it what we look like, or how we behave? When compared to its hominin relatives, Homo sapiens has evolved a characteristic face – small, retracted under a gracile brow ridge, with a high forehead and a bony chin – as well as large brains with a unique morphology. More fossil material is uncovered regularly, and new dating and genetic evidence pushes back the dates of the first appearance of Homo sapiens in the record. Palaeoanthropologists are having to pull biological, morphological and behavioural evidence together in order to re-think what it means to be “human”.
Growing as a Neanderthal child
Lisa Genochio (Our Body Speaker)
How did Neanderthals grow? Do modern humans develop in the same way? Today, thanks to the discovery of juvenile Neanderthal specimens and the use of 3D imaging tools, we can try to discern the differences and similarities between our species and Neanderthals in terms of growth development. This could also tell us about their lifestyle, as growth development is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Currently, researchers are trying to reconstruct the development of cranio-facial structures (skull, face, and brain) in hominins in order to better define our own story.