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They examined the skulls of modern humans and Neanderthals and 11 existing species of non-human primates including chimpanzees, gorillas and baboons.
They measured 15 standard skull and face landmarks and used 3-D analysis to superimpose each one on the other.
"From these data, we were able to determine how much variation living primate species generally accommodate, as well as measure how different two primate species that are closely related can be," Harvati said in a statement.
Their computer analysis showed that the differences measured between modern humans and Neanderthals were significantly greater than those found between subspecies of living monkeys and apes.