The Lapedo Child had the chin and arms of a human but the jaw and build were Neanderthal

Anita Durairaj
Reconstruction of a Homo neanderthalensis faceCredit: Guérin Nicolas ; CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Lapedo Child (also called the Lagar Velho boy) was first discovered in Portugal in 1998. It was the first Ice Age burial that was discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. Its skeleton was recovered largely intact in the Lagar Velho rock shelter in Leiria, Portugal.

The remains of the Lapedo Child were estimated to be between 24,000 and 25,000 years of age. By analyzing the teeth, scientists estimated that the child had died at a mean age of 4.7 years.

The Lapedo Child became famous in the scientific community because the body did not quite resemble that of a modern human. There were specific features that set the child apart.

Specifically, the body proportions such as the lower limbs of the child were Neanderthal in appearance. There was also a pitting of the occipital bone in the skull that some scientists diagnosed as being characteristic of Neanderthals.

For scientists, the Lapedo Child was the result of an admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals.

In 2007, scientists also attempted to accurately reconstruct the face of the child using modern techniques giving a clear vision of how the child would have looked like in real life.

Due to the importance of the discovery and the fragile skeleton of the Lapedo Child, a replica of the skeleton and the reconstruction of the child's face were placed on display for visitors.

The discovery of the Lapedo Child indicated that Neanderthals did not completely disappear from Europe but instead ended up breeding with modern humans.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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