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. 2018 Oct 30;9(1):4387.
doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06803-z.

3D Virtual Reconstruction of the Kebara 2 Neandertal Thorax

Free PMC article

3D Virtual Reconstruction of the Kebara 2 Neandertal Thorax

Asier Gómez-Olivencia et al. Nat Commun. .
Free PMC article


The size and shape of the Neandertal thorax has been debated since the first discovery of Neandertal ribs more than 150 years ago, with workers proposing different interpretations ranging from a Neandertal thoracic morphology that is indistinguishable from modern humans, to one that was significantly different from them. Here, we provide a virtual 3D reconstruction of the thorax of the adult male Kebara 2 Neandertal. Our analyses reveal that the Kebara 2 thorax is significantly different but not larger from that of modern humans, wider in its lower segment, which parallels his wide bi-iliac breadth, and with a more invaginated vertebral column. Kinematic analyses show that rib cages that are wider in their lower segment produce greater overall size increments (respiratory capacity) during inspiration. We hypothesize that Neandertals may have had a subtle, but somewhat different breathing mechanism compared to modern humans.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Ventral view of the reconstructed thorax of Kebara 2. The blue color is to highlight the ribs and the sternum. Scale bar = 5 cm
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Comparison of the Kebara 2 (K2) thorax (left column; see legend in Fig. 1 for color explanation) to the modern human male sample (in gray; middle column) and superposition of the two morphologies (in blue, Kebara 2; in gray, the modern human sample male mean; right column) in cranial (top row), ventral (middle row) and left lateral (lower row) views. In the cranial view, the invagination of the K2 spine into its thorax is noticeable. In ventral view, the relatively (and absolutely; see Table 1) wider thorax of Kebara 2 compared to modern humans is appreciable. In lateral view, K2 shows relatively larger antero-posterior mid-thorax and straighter shafts of the rib, while modern humans show more caudally curved ribs sternal to the posterior angle. In the third column the same template has been used in order to represent the modern human male mean (gray) and the K2 morphology. In the superposition, both the modern human male thorax and the K2 thorax scaled to the same centroid size
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Principal component analysis (PCA) representing the second (PC2) and third (PC3) principal components, which represent the 20.827% and the 16.227% of the variation, respectively. In this plot Kebara 2 is outside the 95% of the equiprobability ellipse representing the modern human sample

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