La Ferrassie 1 Neandertal


The La Ferrassie 1 (LF1), skeleton discovered over a century ago, is one of the most important Neandertal individuals in both paleobiological and historical terms. It is indeed among the most complete specimens ever found, and it has played an important role in the interpretation of Neandertal anatomy and lifeways. LF1 was found in 1909 and has been described as an adult male, of around 172 cm of stature and a body mass of 85 kg. He was found in what was considered a funerary tip in a level with a chronological range between 40 000 and 54 000 years. This individual has been the subject of scientific studies for more than 100 years, and the most recent ones, using cutting‐edge imaging technologies, have provided additional important paleobiological and taphonomic information. LF1 shows different pathological lesions, including fractures of the clavicle and the femoral trochanter, degenerative pathologies in the spine and evidence of a pulmonary disease (thoracic infection and/or carcinoma) which could have been the cause of death.

Key Concepts

  • La Ferrassie 1 (LF1) was found in 1909 and was paramount at the beginning of the twentieth century to understand the adult Neandertal anatomy.
  • La Ferrassie 1 had a stature of about 172 cm and a body mass of around 85 kg.
  • LF1 was an old individual that survived to different traumas and lesions and was finally interred by his group.
  • A pulmonary disease (thoracic infection and/or carcinoma) could have been the cause of death.
  • Despite having been the object of monographs in the past, recent studies have described new fossils and new data on this individual.

Keywords: human evolution; paleopathology; bone fracture; imaging methodologies; Homo neanderthalensis

Figure 1. Discovery of the La Ferrassie 1 Neandertal, view of the site and during the cleaning of the block that contained the neck and the head. Courtesy of JL Heim.
Figure 2. The three ossicles of La Ferrassie 1, imaged, thanks to AST‐RX, and reconstructed in 3D at a resolution of 23.65 μm.
Figure 3. Schematic view of the skeleton of La Ferrassie 1 and the representation of the different pathologies present in this individual. On the left we have represented the traumatic lesions which consist in a fracture of the left clavicle and a fracture of the greater trochanter of the right femur. In the centre, we have represented the periostitis/remodelling lesions which are, at least in the case of the limb and feet bones, related to a hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy. On the right, other lesions are represented, that is, the oral pathologies and the scoliosis of the vertebral column.


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Balzeau, Antoine, and Gómez‐Olivencia, Asier(May 2020) La Ferrassie 1 Neandertal. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0028493]