The Neanderthal: A new look at an old face

Yoel Rak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is suggested that the unique facial topography of the classic Neanderthal be viewed as stemming from a change of much of the infraorbital region from the coronal orientation of the generalized face to a more sagittal orientation. This reorganization renders the infraorbital facial plates more efficient in opposing the rotation of the snout in the sagittal plane, which in turn is generated by the unusual use of the anterior teeth. The triangular shape that the "sagittally" oriented infraorbital plate assumes is considered the result of its greater efficiency in opposing the rotation of the anterior part of the face. Both the shift from the coronal into the sagittal orientation and the reshaping of the bone plate into a triangle with a specific anteroposterior length to achieve optimal proportions act to produce the unusual mid-facial prognathism in the Neanderthal skull.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-164
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1986


  • Neanderthal
  • architecture
  • face
  • morphology


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