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Neanderthals on Trial
Casts of Characters

Neanderthal, Early Modern Human

Click and drag on the images above to rotate the skulls. Try to rotate both skulls in the same direction and keep them similarly aligned. Whenever you see your cursor change to a "globe," click. Text will appear in a box below both images that reveals contrasts between two similar parts, such as the forehead or chin. If you have trouble locating all 13 anatomical differences, click the question mark key at the base of each image to see all 13. Terms in italic are defined in a glossary at the bottom of this page.

Note that the Neanderthal is painted plaster of paris, with the maroon spots indicating pieces missing from the original. The Cro Magnon skull is molded fiberglass. When you view the casts head-on, the Neanderthal may appear disproportionately larger. Neanderthals did have larger faces than early moderns, but the size discrepancy is enhanced here by the fact that the Cro Magnon skull has no teeth. When you compare the skulls from the side, you'll notice that their braincases are roughly the same size.


Glossary
braincase: portion of the skull that encloses the brain

browridge: prominence of bone above the eyes

mastoid process: bony projection behind the ear that is the attachment site for the digastric muscle that opens and closes the jaw

midface: portion of the face around the nasal cavity between the eyes and mouth

occipital bone: bone that forms the rear portion of the skull

orbit: bony socket of the eye

retromolar gap: space between the last tooth (third molar) and the mandibular ramus, the rear portion of the jawbone that connects with the skull (Note: When the early modern human skull faces to the right, it appears as though a retromolar gap exists, but had it survived, the skull's missing third molar would have filled that "hole.")


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