KU researchers find evidence of tumor in 120,000-year-old bone

Neanderthals suffered some of the same serious afflictions we do, according to researchers from the University of Kansas and other schools.

David Frayer, a professor of anthropology at KU, has helped research pieces of 120,000-year-old Neanderthal rib bone founding Croatia, helping to identify evidence of a tumor.

In part because Neanderthals did not live nearly as long as modern humans, and lived in an environment free of many modern toxins, it is exceedingly rare to find evidence of such a disease, KU said in a news release.

Frayer and others identified evidence of fibrous dysplasia, (bone cancer), in the rib.

“It’s evidence that Neanderthals suffered tumors — that they were susceptible to the same kinds of diseases that we see in modern humans,” Frayer said in the university statement.. He co-authored a scientific paper on the find. “Before this, the earliest tumor in bone that we’ve seen goes back to an Egyptian mummy. So this is 100,000 years older than the previous tumor that has been found. There is no evidence of cancer older than this in the human fossil record.”