The Neanderthal with the world's oldest tumor

tags: archaeology, Neanderthal, National Geographic, tumors, fibrous dysplasia



A benign bone tumor that afflicts modern-day humans has now been found in one of our ancestors: a Neanderthal more than 120,000 years old.

The discovery of a fibrous dysplasia in a Neanderthal rib is the earliest known bone tumor on record, predating other tumors by more than 100,000 years. The rib, recovered from a site in Krapina, Croatia, indicates that Neanderthals were susceptible to the same types of tumors modern-day humans get, despite living in a remarkably different environment.

"They didn't have pesticides, but they probably were sleeping in caves with burning fires," says David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas and the co-author of a new paper about the discovery. "They were probably inhaling a lot of smoke from the caves. So the air was not completely free of pollutants—but certainly, these Neanderthals weren't smoking cigarettes."...



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