Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (xii, 297 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David S Strait

Committee Members

Sharon N DeWitte, Adam Gordon


biomechanics, femur, finite element analysis, Neanderthal, Femur, Neanderthals, Fossil hominids, Paleoanthropology

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology


The Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) femur is distinct from that of recent modern humans (Homo sapiens). Broadly speaking, the Neanderthal femur is more "robust", meaning that it appears to be biomechanically stronger, and it is more curved, which may enhance the predictability of the stresses and strains experienced by the bone. It has been hypothesized that the Neanderthal morphology is an adaptation to withstand elevated and repetitive loads associated with increased mobility. This study tests the mobility hypothesis using comparative and biomechanical methods. Specifically, this study sought to test the mobility hypothesis by a) determining whether or not a relationship exists between skeletal variables and day range (a surrogate for mobility) in living primates, and b) using finite element analysis to quantify differences in biomechanical strength between Neanderthals and modern humans while simulating loads associated with bipedal walking, traumatic loads, and stumbling.