1Anthropology, University of Kansas, 2Paleoanthropology and Messel Research, Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt, 3Préhistoire, MNHN, Paris, 4Géosciences, Université de Poitiers, 5Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 6Antropologia, Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "L. Pigorini
Thursday 4:15-4:30, Grand Ballroom II
The long known connections among handedness, brain asymmetry and language in living populations serve as a proxy for estimating brain lateralization and language capacity in the fossil record. Separate studies of skeletal elements and isolated teeth have shown that Neandertals were mostly right‑handed, but we document for the first time handedness in a Neandertal skeleton with associated arms and dental remains. Regourdou 1, discovered in 1957 in a collapsed rock shelter in SW France, consists of complete mandible and primarily parts of the upper torso. Using the synchrotron we quantified right/left differences in a variety of biomechanical measures and confirmed previous work, which identified Regourdou 1 as a likely right-hander. In the associated mandible the incisors are heavily scored with oblique scratches, primarily of the right‑hand type. The concordance of arm and dental evidence for handedness in Regourdou 1 links activities directed by asymmetrical arm/hand movements with the traces of the activities left on the teeth. Regourdou 1 was lateralized and predominately right-handed like living humans. This and other evidence from archaeology to paleogenetics clearly establish language capacity in Neandertals.