Physical Anthropology Section Research at the Penn Museum

The Krapina Neanderthal site in Croatia contains the largest collection of Neanderthal fossils as yet recovered. Skulls, teeth, and all of the bones of the skeleton are preserved.

This collection has given us a wealth of information on the Neanderthal way of life. Radiographic, CT and SEM analysis has allowed us to study these Neanderthals in new and interesting ways.


Krapina Rock shelter, located on Husnjakovo Hill, in the Village of Krapina, some 55 km north of the city of Zagreb, Croatia.


The site of Krapina is dated at approximately 100-150,000 years BP.


  • Janet Monge, University of Pennsylvania
  • Alan Mann, Princeton University
  • David Frayer, Kansas University
  • Jakov Radovcic, Croatian Natural History Museum
  • Anne-marie Tillier, Universite de Bordeaux
  • Morrie Kricun, University of Pennsylvania

Project Overview

The Krapina site has yielded the largest number of human skeletal remains recovered from any Upper Pleistocene site. These human bones were recovered in a fragmentary condition intermixed with the faunal sample. There is no evidence of deliberate burial, and some evidence to suggest postmortem manipulation of the bones by other humans. Among this sample of fragmentary cranial and postcranial elements, a number have signs of apparently pre-mortem traumatic injury. We analyzed the sample using both standard radiography and CT scan analysis to come to conclusion that Neanderthals suffered a significant amount of trauma in their lifetime.

Among the collection is a sample of close to 200 isolated teeth as well as teeth in the jaws of about 2 dozen mandibles (lower jaw) and maxillae (upper jaw) specimens. These teeth and jaws give us a wealth of information on the life history and life ways of these extinct members of the human lineage. One of the major questions surrounds unique human-like aspects of growth and development and when it evolved in the human lineage. SEM studies seem to indicate that, like modern humans, Neanderthals grew up in a similar way to our children today.

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