Meet Krijn: Scientists reconstruct the face of a ‘sturdy’ male Neanderthal who had a TUMOUR above his eyebrow 70,000 years ago – a phenomenon never before observed among the group

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  • Scientists used bone fragments retrieved from the North Sea 20 years ago
  • Earlier analysis showed that it belonged to a Neanderthal male of fairly strong build.
  • Now rebuilt with a lump on his head for a new museum exhibit

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Scientists have reconstructed the face of a male Neanderthal named Krizan who lived and died 70,000 years ago, and had a curious facial deformity.

Krijn, a young man with a ‘very strong build’ at the time of death, had a distinctive lump on his right eyebrow – the result of a small tumor.

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Scientists claim that this particular tumor has never been seen before among Neanderthal remains, and possibly causes cringe pain, swelling, headache and even seizures.

But despite having a painful growth from a tumor, Krijn is rebuilt with a happy smile.

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During his lifetime, Krijn lived in Doggerland, an ancient land bridge connecting Britain to the rest of Europe more than 50,000 years ago.

Cheer reconstructs the face of Krizan, a male Neanderthal called Krijn who lived and died 70,000 years ago

Who were the Neanderthals?

Neanderthals were a close human ancestor who died mysteriously about 40,000 years ago.

The species lived alongside early humans in Africa for millennia before moving to Europe about 300,000 years ago.

They were later joined by humans, who entered Eurasia about 48,000 years ago.

These were the original ‘caves’, which were historically considered retarded and cruel.

But in recent years, evidence points to a more sophisticated and multi-talented type of ‘caveman’.

It now appears that Neanderthals buried their dead, painted and even mingled with humans.

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Neanderthals were a species that lived with humans thousands of years ago and were very similar in appearance and size but were generally stockier and more muscular.

This primitive relative of humans had been in existence for about 100,000 years—most of that time breeding with and with people—before becoming extinct about 40,000 years ago.

Krijn’s reconstruction was based on a fragment of a brow bone, found in 2001 in Zeeland by amateur paleontologist Luc Anthonisin.

The fossil was removed from the North Sea floor off the coast of the Netherlands with a dredging vessel.

It was later presented to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) – the Netherlands’ National Museum of Antiquities – in the Dutch city of Leiden – in 2009.

‘There’s an interesting indentation above the browbone,’ said Luke Emkrutz, curator of prehistoric collections at RMO.

‘Research showed that it was caused by a subcutaneous tumour. It is the first to be found in Neanderthals.

‘So this man had a lump on his forehead – a benign growth.’

a 2009 study The bone has been discovered to have come from the skull of a young man of a robust build with ‘an intradiploid epidermoid cyst’, a type of neoplasm first diagnosed in Neanderthal remains.

The picture is one of the steps in the creation of Krizen's face, before the skin and hair are added.

The picture is one of the steps in the creation of Krizen’s face, before the skin and hair are added.

The Zeeland Ridge is a mirror-image and superimposed specimen on the skull of another Neanderthal – La Chapelle-aux-Saints.  The left sinus of La Chapelle-aux-Saints is divided into red.

The Zeeland Ridge is a mirror-image and superimposed specimen on the skull of another Neanderthal – La Chapelle-aux-Saints. The left sinus of La Chapelle-aux-Saints is divided into red

An analysis of the varieties of stable isotopes – nitrogen and carbon atoms – also revealed that they mostly ate meat and suggested that they consumed seafood.

Two Dutch twin brothers – Adri and Alphonse Kenis, who have been described as ‘Pura-anthropological artists’ – have now used the piece for the reconstruction.

‘Luckily it’s a very distinctive piece,’ Adri said. ‘It involves a very thinking, rounded brow. Only Neanderthals had those eyebrows.’

Neanderthals had very pronounced eyebrows and raised facial features. In comparison, modern day humans have a much larger forehead.

The fossilized orbital bone of Krijn, found in 2001 by amateur paleontologist Luc Anthonisin in Zeeland, Netherlands

The fossilized orbital bone of Krijn, found in 2001 by amateur paleontologist Luc Anthonisin in Zeeland, Netherlands

A reconstruction of the oldest Neanderthal krizan found in the Netherlands, on display at the National Antiquities Museum in Leiden

A reconstruction of the oldest Neanderthal krizan found in the Netherlands, on display at the National Antiquities Museum in Leiden

The Canis brothers have made several previous reconstructions of Neanderthals and other prehistoric hominids, including tzi the Iceman.

To reconstruct Krizan’s face, he used fossil bone features as well as digital matches with comparable Neanderthal skulls and the latest findings about Neanderthals and their characteristics, such as eyes, hair and skin color.

The complete bust, along with the fossil fragments, is now on display together at RMO’s exhibition, ‘Doggerland’, until October 31, 2021.

Doggerland existed when sea level was 160 feet (50 m) lower than it is today. It is now submerged under the North Sea.

Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 years ago, but they have a reputation as hawks, ferocious creatures that were tough and fearless

Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 years ago, but they have a reputation as hawks, ferocious creatures that were tough and fearless

Doggerland’s fate was sealed by the ‘Storega Slide’ – a submarine landslide in about 6,200 BC, believed to have submerged the land bridge through one or more tsunamis, killing thousands in the process. Death was likely.

“Mammoths, woolly rhinos, reindeer, horses and Neanderthals roamed this steppe, which was cold but provided plenty of food,” the RMO said.

RMO’s exhibition tells the story of Doggerland’s changing landscape and climate, as well as the nearly 1 million years of human habitation there.

“Krijnen and other discoveries suggest that further research and conservation of the North Sea floor are of great scientific importance to Dutch and international archeology and palaeontology,” the RMO said.

The Doggerland stretched from what is now the east coast of Britain to the present-day Netherlands, but disappeared due to rising sea levels after the Last Glacial Maximum and the Storga Slide.

The Doggerland stretched from what is now the east coast of Britain to the present-day Netherlands, but disappeared due to rising sea levels after the Last Glacial Maximum and the Storga Slide.

A close relative of modern humans, Neanderthals went…

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