April 22, 2024

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What was life like for primitive females?

What was life like for primitive females?

If someone says to you “Neanderthal,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? If it happened to be a picture of someone who looked like a “caveman”, it wouldn't be surprising at all. A quick image search returns results that mostly show male Neanderthals, but what about females of the species? What do we know about them and how did they live?

Leaving home?

With limited research in the area, it is difficult to know much about the early years of a female Neanderthal's life. However, when it comes to progressing into adulthood, there are some clues.

For example, there is a Neanderthal mutation found in some humans today that is thought to cause this An early start Menstruation – the first menstrual period or menstrual cycle. This suggests that female Neanderthals may have begun their menstrual cycle and reached maturity (at least in the reproductive sense) at an earlier age than is typical for humans today.

As they grow older, they may also have taken on sexual partners or mates. If they find a mate, a young one Stady It suggests that female Neanderthals may have moved from their own community to that of their partners.

Researchers analyzed the genomes of Neanderthal individuals whose remains were found in two different caves in Siberia for clues about their social organization. This included sequencing the Y chromosomes, which are passed down from parents, but they also looked at mitochondrial DNA inherited from the mother.

From this, they found that there is greater diversity in the mitochondrial genome than in the Y chromosome DNA, which the researchers suggest is “best explained by female migration between populations.”

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However, the team provided genetic data for only 13 individuals; More samples will be needed to make any strong conclusions about whether or not female Neanderthals actually moved away from their original communities.

A painful birth – but they may have had help

Regardless of where they ended up residing, at some point, many female Neanderthals would have ended up giving birth to a cute little (well, this part we're guessing) little Neanderthal baby – although we now know that It might as well have been. Half of Homo sapiens. Even for modern humans, the experience of having a baby removed from you can be a mixed bag, but what was childbirth like for Neanderthals?

Perhaps it would be as painful and difficult as it is today, according to researchers from the University of California at Davis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Using CT scans, the researchers created a virtual reconstruction of a body Neanderthal Basin; Specifically, that of the female found in Tabun Cave.

The reconstruction suggests that the birth canal of female Neanderthals was very different from that of modern humans; It was wider from side to side and did not twist. This lack of twisting suggests that the babies probably did not rotate in the womb (though… Not everyone Convinced), although this does not mean that childbirth was easier at that time.

Neanderthal children probably had slightly longer and larger heads, so a child's large head plus a relatively small space from which to enter the world was still worth a lot.

Fortunately, they probably had people on their side to overcome this problem. 2019 Stady It suggests that Neanderthals had healthcare practices – and according to lead author Dr Penny Speakens, this could have extended to something akin to midwifery.

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“They probably had help in the birth,” Spikins said in a statement statement. “Without support, they may not have been able to survive the toll that maternal and child mortality can take on their communities.”

“Hunting belongs to everyone”

Besides giving birth to the next generation of Neanderthals, what was the role of females within their societies? Although it's hard to say for sure, evidence suggests that it may not have been all that different from male members of the species.

Shock to Bones Reflections of a hunting life have been found in the fossils of both male and female Neanderthals, evidence suggests Dental wear Which suggests that both sexes participated in activities in which teeth were used as an extra hand, such as concealment work.

According to Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kara Okobock, this probably hasn't changed with fatherhood either. “[W]“We have no reason to believe that prehistoric women abandoned hunting during pregnancy, lactation, or pregnancy,” Okobock said in her report. statement“We see in the deep past no indication of a strict division of labor between the sexes.”

Hunting “belongs to everyone, not just males.”

Of course, without a time machine, it's difficult to know exactly what life was like for female Neanderthals – it would be easier to say what they couldn't do, like go to the supermarket or sign up for a IFLScience website on YouTube channel. But from the little evidence we have, they paint a picture that has many differences, and some similarities, with what we see in their distant relatives today.

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