Accretion model of Neanderthal origins

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In Palaeoanthropology, the accretion model[1]:4 is a hypothesis for the appearance of Neanderthals. It suggests that those traits characteristically Neanderthal appeared gradually (accreted) over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than abruptly.[1] First proposed by Piveteau (1970), it was developed by Vandermeersch (1978)[2] and Jean-Jacques Hublin (1982,[3] 1986,[4] 1998,[5] 2009a,b).[6][7]

The model proposes four descriptive stages for the appearance of Neanderthal characteristics.[7] According to those that defined the stages, these likely just reflect the discontinuity of the fossil record. For example, no specimen dates to OIS 8 (300–243 ka), so this gap serves to separate stages 2 and 3.[7]

Stage Name Date Traits (among others)[7] Includes Example 1 Example 2
Stage 1 Early
OIS 12 and before

To 424 ka

Wide occipital torus. Arago
(left, male)

(right, male)

Mauer 1

Homo erectus tautavelensis.jpg Petralona skull covered by stalagmiteCROP ROTATE CONTRAST.jpg
Stage 2 Pre-Neanderthals OIS 11 to 9

424 – 300 ka

Protruding occipital torus.

Incipient occipital bun.

Increased occipital plane convexity.

Incipient to well-defined suprainiac fossa.

Atapuerca 5
(left, male)

Steinheim 1
(right, female)

Homo heidelbergensis. Museo de Prehistoria de Valencia.jpg Homo steinheimensis, holotype.jpg
Stage 3 Early Neanderthals OIS 7 to 5

243 – 71 ka

Full occipital bun.

Pronounced occipital plane convexity.

Elongated skull in the front-back direction.

Saccopastore 1
(left, female)

Krapina 3
(right, female) Shanidar 2 and 4

National Museum of Natural History (8587341141) CROP.jpg Krapina 3.jpg
Stage 4 Classic Neanderthals OIS 4 and 3

71 – 40 ka

Orbits of the eyes become rounded.

Nose cavity becomes larger.

Exaggerated occipital plane convexity.

Exaggerated suprainiac fossa.

Pronounced mid-facial prognathism.

La Chapelle 1
(left, male)

Gibraltar 1
(right, female)

La Ferrassie 1

Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.jpg Gibraltar Skull (1)a.jpg


  1. ^ a b B. Wood, ed. (2013). Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-118-65099-8. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Étude préliminaire du crâne humain du gisement paléolithique de Biache-Saint-Vaast (Pas-de-Calais)". Bulletin de l'Association française pour l'étude du Quaternaire. 54-56. 1978. pp. 65–67.
  3. ^ J.-J. Hublin (1982). "The myth of the European presapiens". Anthropos. 9 (16).
  4. ^ J.-J. Hublin (1986). "Some comments on the diagnostic features of Homo erectus". Anthropos (23). pp. 175–87.
  5. ^ J.-J. Hublin (1998). "Climatic changes, paleogeography, and the evolution of the Neandertals". In T. Akazawa; K. Aoki; O. Bar-Yosef (eds.). Neanderthals and modern humans in western Asia. New York: Plenum Press. pp. 295–310.
  6. ^ J.-J. Hublin (2009). "The origin of Neandertals". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 106 (38). pp. 16022–27. doi:10.1073/pnas.0904119106.
  7. ^ a b c d D. Dean; J.-J. Hublin; R. Holloway; R. Ziegler (1998). "On the phylogenetic position of the pre-Neandertal specimen from Reilingen, Germany". Journal of Human Evolution. 34 (5). pp. 485–508. doi:10.1006/jhev.1998.0214.