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. Neanderthals different in north, south

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by staff writers
El Sidron, Spain (UPI) Dec 21, 2006
Remains of 43,000-year-old Neanderthals found in southern Europe had broader faces than their northern counterparts, Spanish and British researchers say.

Researchers analyzed the mandibles of Neanderthals discovered in Spain near El Sidron, revealing the variations. The southern European Neanderthals had broader faces with "increased lower facial heights," said Markus Bastir, with the functional morphology and evolution research unit of Hull York Medical School in Britain.

"This revealed an astonishing North-South morphological gradient and gives us an idea of typically Southern European Neanderthal facial shape," Bastir said.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Despite the explosive growth in size and complexity of the human brain, the pace of evolutionary change among the thousands of genes expressed in brain tissue has actually slowed since the split, millions of years ago, between human and chimpanzee, an international research team reports in the December 26, 2006, issue of the journal, PLOS Biology.

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