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Shanidar 3 - Neanderthal Skeleton
See this Neanderthal skeleton in the Hall of Human Origins
Shanidar 3 Skeleton from Shanidar Cave, Iraq
45,000 – 35,000 years old
This fossilized Neanderthal skeleton, on display in the Hall of Human Origins, is one of 10 individuals excavated from Shanidar Cave in Iraq. The site yielded one of the largest samples of Neanderthal fossils found anywhere in the world.
Scientists uncovered more than 130 bones and many small fragments of just this one individual. Assembling them into a single skeleton was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.
How Do We Know His Age?
The crowns of his teeth are worn down almost to the roots. This strong wear—along with age-related changes in his hip bone and microscopic studies of bone tissue—show that he was at least 40 years old.
What Did He Eat?
Hardened plaque on one of his molar teeth contains starch grains, indicating that this individual ate plants. Chemical analysis of the bones also points to a diet that contained plant food.
How Did He Die?
Notice the partially healed stab wound on his ninth left rib. The depth of the cut indicates that a sharp instrument stabbed his chest and probably collapsed his lung. This may be evidence of the oldest-known homicide, or attempted homicide, in the fossil record.
Want to learn more about the Neanderthals buried in Shanidar Cave? Explore this video interactive
Want to see a facial reconstruction of Shanidar 1 and learn about ancient DNA? Visit this page