Oldest Tumor Found in Neanderthal Rib Bone: Report

June 6, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

The oldest tumor ever found was located in the rib of a Neanderthal who died more than 100,000 years ago, it was reported.

LiveScience reported that the Neanderthal bone was excavated more than 100 years ago in Croatia but was hollowed out by what scientists say is a tumor. The tumor was not caused by cancer but is known as fibrous dysplasia, which replace the structure of bones with soft tissue.

“They range all the way from being totally benign, where you wouldnt recognize them, to being extremely painful,” University of Kansas anthropologist David Frayer told LiveScience. “The size of this one, and the bulging of it, probably caused the individual pain.”

Scientists with the university took X-rays of the bone and found that the inner structure was missing.

The bone was found in the Krapina rock shelter located in northern Croatia and has 900 Neanderthal bones dating 120,000 to 130,000 years ago.

Frayer talked about the environment in which Neanderthals lived thousands of years ago.

“They didn’t have pesticides, but they probably were sleeping in caves with burning fires,” Frayer told National Geographic. “They were probably inhaling a lot of smoke from the caves. So the air was not completely free of pollutants—but certainly, these Neanderthals weren’t smoking cigarettes.”