One of the most complete and best preserved Neanderthal skeleton to be ever discovered, the Altamura Man’s fossilised bones have remained hidden from view at the bottom of a sinkhole near Altamura, a town in southern Italy.
According to a report in CNN, that is the place where the prehistoric man fell and starved himself to death more than 1,30,000 years ago.
The report added that cavers first discovered the skull, covered in limestone deposits, in 1993 and the inaccessible location of the skeleton, lodged in a small chamber deep in the karst cave system, has made its study extremely difficult.
Speaking about the bones, Jacopo Moggi-Cecchi, a professor in the department of biology at the University of Florence said that a rope was used to bring Jacopo down along with colleagues. The professor added that the individual must have fallen down a shaft and maybe did not see the hole in the ground. According tto Jacopo, he the individual sat there and died.
Jacopo added that the original shaft he fell through is no longer there and has been filled by sediment.
Researchers have now pointed out that the Altamura Man’s dental health was poor, with plaque, tooth loss and likely gum disease.
As per a report in the Daily Mail, the researchers took photographs of theman’s fossilised jaw, along with footage taken through a videoscope and in-situ X-ray scans, coming to the conclusion that the Altamura Man was an adult at the time of his death, and was missing two of his teeth.
Professor Jacopo explained that the tooth loss is interesting since some of the roots of the Altamura Man’s teeth show signs of having been exposed, suggesting he may have suffered from gum diseases.
As per the report, previous analysis also showed that the wear and tear on the remains indicated that he had buck teeth which he used as a ‘third hand’ to hold meat.
The findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.