A recreation of a Neanderthal man’s face is turning heads all over the world – not only for its strong resemblance to our own physiognomy today but also because of the good humor it exudes, as much as 70,000 years after the man died.
What almost everybody instantly recognizes is that this man, nicknamed “Krijn,” who was not even a Homo sapiens, has a magnetic personality that still radiates over the millennia.
As Live Science reports, experts from Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions created the face of the young Neanderthal man from a piece of skull discovered from the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands twenty years ago.
Face of Neanderthal charms the world
Using what they already knew from the Neanderthals’ sturdy bone structure, the researchers also gleaned information from other skulls that have been found and data regarding their eye, skin, and hair color to help in the recreation of the Neanderthal’s grinning face.
Believed to have lived in Doggerland, which was once dry land but now forms the seabed in the North Sea between the United Kingdom and continental Europe, he died between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, according to the researchers.
A bone analysis made of the surviving piece of his skull, which comprised part of the Neanderthal man’s iconic raised brow bone, showed that his diet was heavy on the meat.
Interestingly, the man also suffered from a small intradiploic epidermoid cyst above one eyebrow. Located in the skin layers, tumors like these are normally slow-growing and benign. The artists decided to recreate the man, tumor and all, to show that ancient mankind suffered from many of the same maladies that we do today.
These types of cysts are uncommon, but usually benign, lesions, especially when they’re small, like that of Krijn’s is, according to a study on his skull from 2009 study. The discovery was the first time this kind of tumor had been documented in Neanderthal remains.
Unique Find First Neanderthal in The Netherlands
Now on display at the Netherlands’ National Museum of Antiquities, Krijn’s bust joins that of other individuals from history whose ancient remains have been found and whose faces have been recreated by Kennis and Kennis, the Dutch brothers who bring such people back to life.
An amateur paleontologist found a piece of Krijn’s skull in 2001 while looking through sediments that had been taken from the bottom of the North Sea, northwest of The Netherlands.
Adrie Kennis, a paleo-anthropological artist who works with his brother Alfons at Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions, admits there’s something special about Krijns. “Luckily, it’s a very distinctive piece,” he stated in a video created by the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Holland.
Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Human Evolution showed that although the young man was certainly carnivorous, there was no evidence of any seafood in his diet. This was taken from an analysis of the isotopes, or elements, including of carbon and nitrogen, found in his skull.
Krijn is First Fossilized Neanderthal from Pleistocene Found Under the Sea
Krijn is very special for many reasons — among them that he is the first fossilized hominin from the Pleistocene epoch, which stretched over a vast period of time from2.6 million to 11,700 years ago that has been found under seawater.
Incredibly, although his kind lived all over Europe, he is also the first Neanderthal to ever be found in the Netherlands.
The Europe of that time was home to a wealth of animals, including mammoths, lions, woolly rhinoceroses, reindeer and horses, all of which lived on what was once the steppe of Doggerland, according to a statement from the Royal Dutch Museum.
At the time he lived, the climate was very cold, researchers believe, so the hardy Neanderthal had many difficulties to overcome to stay warm, nourished, and safe from marauding predators.
Neanderthals Even Lived on Naxos Island in Greece
However, Neanderthals were nothing if not resilient — that’s why their genes have lived on in all peoples today outside of Africa.
They made a range of tools to enable them to survive, such as the Middle Paleolithic artifacts found alongside him in the sediments of the seabed, including small hand axes and pointed stones known as “Levallois flakes.”
In Greece, Neanderthals may even have sailed from island to island as long as 200,000 years ago — shattering myths about the hominids.
According to groundbreaking archaeological evidence, Neanderthals and early humans are now believed to have inhabited the Greek island of Naxos 200,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought.
A team of US, Canadian and Greek archaeologists announced on Wednesday the discovery of stone tools on the island of Naxos which have been proven to go back at least 200,000 years. Naxos is a Cycladic Greek island located in the very middle of the Aegean Sea.
The tools, according to the team of Tristan Carter of McMaster University, demonstrate that somehow, both Neanderthals and early humans found a way to reach this island — and stayed there for some time.
Neanderthals were an extinct species of the genus Homo that inhabited Europe, the Near East, the Middle East and Central Asia, between 230,000 and 40,000 years before the present, during the late Middle Pleistocene and almost all of the Upper Pleistocene.
Paleogenetic studies indicate a common origin for modern humans and Neanderthals, as well as hybridizations as a result of mating between the two species, in at least two places and times: the Near East and Western Europe.
Findings shed light on Neanderthal Life in Greece
Discovering evidence of hominid activity at Stelida, Naxos hundreds of thousands of years ago completely changes the theory of how humans dispersed out of Africa, the scientists posit in their research, published recently in the journal Science Advances.
While Stone Age hunters are now known to have been living on mainland Europe for over one million years, the Mediterranean islands were previously believed to have been settled only 9,000 years ago, by farmers.
Before the discovery of Stelida in 1981, the oldest settlements around the Cycladic islands were 7,000 years old.
The discovery of the site calls much of what were previously accepted theories regarding early humans and neanderthals in the region into question.
The prevailing theory as to why the Mediterranean islands were inhabited so much later was that only modern humans — Homo sapiens — were sophisticated enough to build seafaring vessels.
Did early humans and Neanderthals travel to Naxos on foot?
However, scientists now believe that Naxos was not an island 200,000 years ago.
During one of the glacial periods amounting to an ice age, when huge volumes of seawater was locked up in glaciers and ocean levels were low, there were apparently marshy land masses between continental Greece and Turkey.
“We believe that pre-Homo sapiens populations and early modern humans (Homo sapiens) were also entering Europe via what today is the submerged Aegean basin, (and) via what today is the island of Naxos, where they would have stopped off to extract chert (a type of rock) to make their tools,” Carter explained to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Some of these tools were in what is known as the Mousterian and Levallois styles, which are associated with Neanderthals in mainland Greece. Others were of an Early Aurignacian type, associated with the first appearance of modern humans, Homo sapiens, across the European continent.
What is perhaps most intriguing is that the very oldest tools found at Naxos actually date from tens of thousands of years before Neanderthals, let alone modern humans, were known to have reached the Aegean.
Carter explains, however, that no ancient bones have been found on the island. “Unfortunately, the soil is very alkaline, so human bones do not survive,” the archaeologist told Haaretz.
The fascinating RMO exhibit titled “Doggerland: Lost World in the North Sea,” which includes the bust of Krijn, is open to the public through Oct. 31, 2021.