Engis 2

Engis 2 refers to part of an assemblage, discovered in 1829 by Dutch physician and naturalist Philippe-Charles Schmerling in the lower of the Schmerling Caves. The pieces that make up Engis 2 are a partially preserved calvaria (cranium) and associated fragments of an upper and a lower jaw, a maxillary bone and an upper incisor tooth of a two to three year old Neanderthal child. The Schmerling Caves are situated just north of the Belgian municipality Engis, whence the name of this group.[1] In 1833 Schmerling described[2] and publicized the find, which included animal bones and stone tools. Recognizing their old age, he associated them with the "Ethiopian Type" of the diluvial period.[3] Although it was not recognized as such until 1936, the publication represents the first scientific description of a Neanderthal fossil.[4]

Engis 2. Lateral view of juvenile Homo neanderthalensis
Engis 1. Adult Homo sapiens. 1 - skull in profile, 2 - frontal view, 3 - upper incisor, 4 - upper jaw fragment, 5 - maxillary bone, 6 - fragment of lower jaw

Early MisclassificationEdit

Originally misclassified as "modern", the fossil received little attention after its publication in the 19th century as it was compared to Engis 1 - the very good and almost perfectly preserved skull of an adult Homo sapiens. In 1758 Carl Linnaeus had published the 10th edition of his work Systema Naturae in which Homo sapiens as a species name was introduced to the public, yet without a thorough diagnosis and without a precise description of the species-specific characteristics.[5] As a result, any criteria by which a fossil of the species Homo sapiens could be classified into and distinguished from the genus Homo did not exist in the early 19th century.

Even Thomas Henry Huxley, a supporter of Darwin's theory of evolution, saw in the 1863 findings of the Engis cave a "man of low degree of civilization" and also interpreted the Neandertal 1 fossils of the Kleine Feldhofer Grotte unearthed in 1856 as belonging within the range of variations of modern man.[6] Additionally, the skull of an infant Neanderthal and an equally old child of anatomically modern humans are of far greater resemblance than their respective adult skulls. The vast majority of the anthropologists of the 19th and early 20th century considered all hominid fossils as belonging to representatives of early "races" of modern man. Hence it was incorrectly believed that the modern man's skull Engis 1 must be related to the child's skull Engis 2.[7]

Reclassification and AgeEdit

Two radiocarbon dates are available for Engis 2. However, the earlier result of 26,820 ± 340 radiocarbon years before present (BP) was considered to be too young by the authors and likely to be a result of contamination, so has been discarded. The more accurate date is 30,460 ± 210 radiocarbon years BP, which corresponds to 34,590–36,110 years BP after calibration.[8] The assignment of Engis 2 to Homo neanderthalensis and Engis 1 to Homo sapiens was primarily based on anatomical and chronological comparisons as Engis 2 was recovered in the context of Neanderthal Mousterian artefacts.[9]

Condition of the bones and associated assemblagesEdit

In 1986 cut marks were found on the top of the skull of Engis 2,[10] which were later identified as to be preparation damage " formed during restoration of the vault, moulding striae formed when mold part lines were incised into the fossil and profiling striae formed when craniograms were made with sharp steel instrument tips."[11] The findings are preserved at the Collections de Paléontologie Animale et Humaine of the University of Liège. The bone fragments called Engis 3 have gone missing.[12] The evolutionary origin of an ulna (forearm bone) fragment called Engis 4 discovered in 1872 is unclear; it has to date not been associated with a specific taxon.[13][14][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Engis 2". Smithsonian Institution. 2010-03-02. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  2. ^ "Engis 3 - individuum Engis 2 - Public NESPOS Space". NESPOS Society. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  3. ^ Spencer, Frank (1997). History of Physical Anthropology, Volume 1. ISBN 9780815304906. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Wood, Bernard (2011-03-31). Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2 Volume Set. ISBN 9781444342475. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Caroli Linnæi Systema naturæ. Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature by Thomas Henry Huxley - chapter 3. Project Gutenberg. November 2001. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  7. ^ Tattersall, I.; Schwartz, J. H. (1999). "Hominids and hybrids: The place of Neanderthals in human evolution Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey H. Schwartz" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (13): 7117–7119. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.13.7117. PMC 33580. PMID 10377375.
  8. ^ Kuzmin, Yaroslav V; Keates, Susan G (2014-01-07). "Direct Radiocarbon Dating of Late Pleistocene Hominids in Eurasia: Current Status, Problems, and Perspectives". Radiocarbon. 56 (2). ISSN 0033-8222.
  9. ^ "The Engis 2 Neanderthal child - it is now thought to be about 70 thousand years old), and this illustration was published by Charles Lyell in 1863, in his Antiquity of Man". Dr. Jack Cuozzo. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Russell, MD; LeMort, F (1986). "Cutmarks on the Engis 2 calvaria?". Am J Phys Anthropol. 69 (3): 317–23. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330690304. PMID 3518479.
  11. ^ White, TD; Toth, N (1989). "Engis: preparation damage, not ancient cutmarks". Am J Phys Anthropol. 78 (3): 361–7. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330780305. PMID 2929740.
  12. ^ Cartmill, Matt; Smith, Fred H. (2011-09-20). The Human Lineage by Matt Cartmill, Fred H. Smith - Chapter 7 - Talking Apes - The Neanderthals. ISBN 9781118211458. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  13. ^ Wood, Bernard (2011-03-31). Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2 Volume Set. ISBN 9781444342475. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  14. ^ Cartmill, Matt; Smith, Fred H. (2009-03-30). The Human Lineage by Matt Cartmill, Fred H. Smith. ISBN 9780471214915. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  15. ^ Russell, MD; LeMort, F (1986). "Cutmarks on the Engis 2 calvaria? - Mary D. Russell and Françoise LeMort". Am J Phys Anthropol. 69 (3): 317–23. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330690304. PMID 3518479.

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