Ancestral Violence and Head Trauma

For the longest time people though that violence is ingrained in our DNA and that our ancestors solved many disputes by use of force instead of communication or compromise. One of the main groups that was mentioned in this breath were Neandertals. But recent findings suggest that might not be the case and that they were no more violent than people today.

When looking at remains of Neandertals, early Homo sapiens, and humans that lived some 10,000 years ago, the difference in the number of head traumas is miniscule. The only constant for all three groups is that the bulk of the injuries were found on male specimens.


The biggest misconception about head and upper body trauma in Neandertals and early humans stems from early studies which were conducted using much smaller sample sizes to the ones used now. Many scientists have even redacted their claims about Neandertals and the large number of head injuries that have been found in early specimens. The thing is that these injuries may have occurred during fossilization or any other similar process which the remains underwent.

Now there is some merit to the claim that early humans hit their head more often than modern humans, but that is down to the difference in lifestyle between the two groups. Early humans had to hunt larger pray in order to survive, and fights between them were close-range in nature.

A group of scientists analyzed 114 Neandertal skulls and 90 Homo sapiens skulls. What they found is that skull injuries occurred in two to 33 percent for both groups. The large range is down to the difference in locations and other factors of the skulls used.

So, in reality, you have almost the same chance of sustaining a head injury as did your ancestor some 40 to 80,000 years ago.

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