Shanidar 1

Blow to the head

Through examining his skeletal remains, scientists found evidence that at a young age, Shanidar 1 experienced a crushing blow to his head. The blow damaged the left eye (possibly blinding him) and the brain area controling the right side of the body, leading to a withered right arm and possible paralysis that also crippled his right leg. One of Shanidar 1’s middle foot bones (metatarsal) on his right foot shows a healed fracture, which probably only enhanced his noticeable limp.  All of Shanidar 1’s injuries show signs of healing, so none of them resulted in his death. In fact, scientists estimate he lived until 35–45 years of age.  He would have been considered old to another Neandertal, and he would probably not have been able to survive without the care of his social group.

Image of Shanidar 1, skull, front view
Image of Shanidar 1, Shanidar Cave, Iraq. Withered right humerus
Shanidar 1
Exhibit item
Shanidar, Iraq
Discovered by: 
Ralph Solecki
Between 45,000 and 35,000 years old