(Chapter II, section 5)

The Neanderthaloid hybrids of Palestine

In western Europe, Neanderthaloid skeletal material begins to appear in the second interglacial, with the Heidelberg jaw,14 and is followed, during the early part of the Riss retreat, by the Steinheim and Ehringsdorf crania. The whole of the third interglacial, and the advance of Würm I, belonged to Neanderthal men, and not a single sapiens skull has been found, in Europe, dating from this long time expanse.

The Neanderthal group was extremely variable, and showed within its ranks clear evidence of evolutionary change in a human direction. On the wholes the western European specimens formed a marginal, and relatively primitive, geographical sub-group of the species. The center of its dispersion probably lay farther east, as did, one may suppose, that of the Mousterian flake culture with which the Neanderthal species seems to be basically associated.

In Palestine, which falls on a periphery of this cultural range, excavations in caves near the Sea of Galilee and Mount Carmel have revealed a number of Neanderthaloid skeletons which are different from those in Europe, and others which are, in fact, only partly Neanderthaloid15 The materials from the Mountain Carmel caves, situated in a late Middle Pleistocene setting, corresponding to the latter part of the third interglacial in Europe, were found imbedded in a breccia thick with Levalloiso-Mousterian implements. It is with these late Mousterians, who showed atypical racial features, that we are at present concerned.

In one of the Mount Carmel caves, that of Tabun, was found the skeleton of a small woman, fully Neanderthaloid, and associated with it was a male mandible equal in size to that of Heidelberg, but possessed of that human feature, a chin. In a nearby grotto, the Mugharet es-Skhul, were the remains of a number of individuals, including three male crania sufficiently complete for reconstruction and measurement, A preliminary publication16 of three of these skulls, and of the long bones of the same and other individuals, gives us a reasonably accurate idea of their position in the human family tree. Originally considered members of the Neanderthaloid species, they are now known to be fully human, although preserving a number of unmistakable Neanderthaloid characteristics.

The leg bones of the Skhul people are long and slender, the femora heavily pilastered, in contrast to the Neanderthaloid form. The feet are fully human, but lack the reduction found in the middle phalanges of modern races, while the heels are short. The humeri are likewise long and slender, the radii and ulnae straight, instead of being bowed as with Neanderthal man, including the Tabun female. The hands of Skhul men were broad and large.

In the Skhul pelves, definite Neanderthaloid features appear; the entire structure is lower and narrower than those of most modern men. The Tabun woman’s pelvis, on the other hand, is quite different from other Neanderthaloids in the possession of a long, plate-like pubis, which is an ape-like character. The vertebral Column of the Skhul men, while human, and possessing a lumbar curve of sapiens character, is short in the cervical region. The total height of the cervical vertebrae is only 55.7 mm., as contrasted with a mean of 68.4 mm. for modern man. Thus the Skhul men were short-necked, and in this respect possessed a Neanderthaloid trait. In comparison with Neanderthal man, the Skhul thorax was flat, while that of the Tabun woman retained the barrel-like earlier form. The ribs of the Skhul men are variable in cross-section; some are flat and ribbon-like, as in modern man, others are thick and rounded, as with Neanderthal. The latter form is also associated with the Upper Palaeolithic European men,17 whose relationship to the Skhul people will be treated later. The stature of the Skhul males was tall, ranging from 173 to 179 cm., while that of the females, estimated from long bones, was short, 158 cm. The sex differentiation thus revealed is great.

In the skull, Skhul man is definitely intermediate between the Neanderthal and sapiens groups, but much closer to the latter, so that its inclusion in the living species cannot be denied. The skulls of the three males are extremely large. In length, they equal Galley Hill, but far exceed it in breadth; the vault height of two specimens, #5 and #9, measured from the ear holes, is equal to that of Galley Hill, but the third, #4, is as low as with true Neanderthals, while the extreme breadth of this specimen acts as a compensatioi, permitting a greater capacity than with the other two. In vault form, then, two are mainly sapiens, while one appears, from the measuremenis, to be largely Neanderthaloid. The capacities of these three skulls are 1588, 1600, and 1616 cc., respectively, much greater than those of Galley Hill or others of his type, and greater than those of most living men. At the same time, they exceed most Neanderthal figures. In brain size as in stature, Skhul man exceeded either Neanderthal or Homo sapiens as previously known.
The best preserved and most complete specimen, #5, is a heavy, thick skull, with heavy browridges, which do not, however, attain a maximum Neanderthaloid development. The greatest length falls higher, in the rear, than with the Neanderthals; although the occiput is protruding, it is not conical in form, as with many Neanderthal specimens. The vault is well-arched, the lambdoid region slightly flattened, and the forehead no more sloping than in many modern sapiens crania.

The face, while large, fails to attain the gorilla-like proportions of Neanderthal, and falls within the modern range in height and breadth. The interorbital distance is, comparatively speaking, great: the upper borders of the orbits straight. Both the maxillae and mandible are of great size and robusticity, exceeding most modern specimens, and the alveolar prognathism is excessive. The mandible has, however, a fully human chin, and the teeth are, like those of the Tabun specimens, not taurodont. The palate, viewed from below, while large, is long in proportion to its breadth, unlike Neanderthal in which the breadth exceeds the length. The foramen magnum, like that of Neanderthal, is long and narrow.

Although the anthropometric position of the Skhul crania will be discussed later in more detail, it is worth noting at the moment that in most characters capable of measurement the #5 specimen falls between Homo sapiens, as exemplified by Galley Hill and later examples of the same type, and Neanderthal, as known from the totality of that species.18

Keith and McCown have demonstrated, beyond serious doubt, that the Skhul skeletons are intermediate between Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens, and that Neanderthal must therefore be included among the ancestors of modern races. Thus the opinions of Hrdlička, Aichel,19 and others, expressed earlier on the basis of equally valid but less striking evidence, are at last, in one sense or another, substantiated We now know that the Neanderthal strain did not become extinct, but passed over into the genetic stock of modern man. If this occurred once, it could have occurred a number of times. The field is flow open to discover survivals of non-sapiens accretions in modern races in other parts of the earth. This privilege must, however, be used with caution.


14 Current scientific opinion in Germany tends to place Heidelberg in the first interglacial.

15 Keith, Sir A., “A Report on the Galilee Skull,” in Turville-Petre, F., Researches in Prehistoric Galilee.

Keith, Sir A., and McCown, T. W., BASP, #13, 1937, pp. 5—15; also “Mount Carmel Man,” etc., Early Man, Phila., 1937, pp. 41—52. (Other notices superseded by the last two mentioned.)

16 Keith, Sir A., and McCown, T. W,, BASP, #13, 1937, pp. 5—15.

17 Aichel, O., Der deutsche Mensch, p 30.

18 Figures for the latter obtained from Morant, G. M., AE, vol. 2, 1927, pp. 376—377.

Hrdliča, A., The Skeletal Remains of Early Man, MCSI, vol. 83, 1930. Aichel, O., Der deutsche Mensch.