St. Césaire Neanderthal

The St. Césaire Neanderthal: Reconstruction, morphometry and paleopathology

The St. Césaire 1 Neanderthal skeleton of a young adult individual is unique in its association with Châtelperronian artifacts from a level dated to ca. 36000 years. This relatively recent age – shortly before the final demise of Neanderthals – makes St. Césaire a key specimen in the investigation of potential anatomical and behavioral change during late phases of Neanderthal evolution. In this research project, we use computer-tomographic imaging and computer-assisted reconstruction to recover the fossil’s morphology at the time of death and to investigate pre-mortem modifications of the skeletal structures in greater detail. Our analyses revealed a healed fracture in the cranial vault. Applying paleopathological and forensic diagnostic standards, the bony scar bears direct evidence for the impact of a sharp implement, which was presumably directed towards the individual during an act of interpersonal violence. These findings add to the evidence that Neanderthals used implements not only for hunting and food processing, but also in other behavioral contexts. This project is carried out in collaboration with B. Vandermeersch (Bordeaux University and Universidad Complutense, Madrid).