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Facial Reconstruction of a 70,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Reveals Face Tumor

Thanks to facial reconstruction, we now know what a male Neanderthal who lived as long as 70,000 years ago looked like. His smiling face revealed very interesting details, specifically a lumpy tumor that was located above his right eye.

This ancient Neanderthal, who has been named “Krijn”, lived anywhere between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago in Doggerland (a former piece of land that linked the United Kingdom to mainland Europe but is now underwater). According to a statement released by the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in the Netherlands, Krijn would have lived alongside mammoths, horses, woolly rhinoceroses, and reindeer. While Neanderthals would have had a large assortment of food, the weather would have been very cold.

A portion of Krijn’s skull was located in 2001 at the bottom of the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands by an amateur paleontologist named Luc Anthonis. And that piece of skull has recently allowed paleo-anthropological artists to recreate a life-like bust representing Krijn’s facial features.

A study that was published in 2009 revealed a few details regarding Krijn, such as he was a young man when he died; his diet contained a lot of meat and no seafood; and he had a tumor called an intradiploic epidermoid cyst that was located above his right eyebrow.

In the study, the authors explained that the type of cyst is not very common; it would have grown slowly; and it was probably benign. It may have caused Krijn to have headaches, dizziness, problems with vision, convulsions, seizures, or pain and swelling. On the other hand, he may not have had any symptoms at all. Furthermore, it was the first time ever that a tumor had been found on any remains belonging to Neanderthals.

In a translated video released by the RMO, Adrie Kennis, who is a paleo-anthropological artist with Kennis & Kennis Reconstructions, talked about the bust by stating, “Luckily, it’s a very distinctive piece.” The video, which shows the bust of Krijn’s face, can be viewed here.

Le Moustier by Charles R. Knight in 1920. (Via Wikipedia)

His skull is very significant in another way as it was the first time that a hominin fossil dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) had been discovered underneath seawater. Additionally, it was the first ever Neanderthal remains found in the Netherlands.

Krijn’s bust is part of an RMO exhibit called “Doggerland: Lost World in the North Sea” that is currently on display for the public to view until October 31st. A picture of the bust showing Krijn’s face can be seen here.

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Jocelyne LeBlanc works full time as a writer and is also an author with two books currently published. She has written articles for several online websites, and had an article published in a Canadian magazine on the most haunted locations in Atlantic Canada. She has a fascination with the paranormal and ghost stories, especially those that included haunted houses. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, making crafts, and watching hockey.