Adaptive biological trends in the European upper palaeolithic: the case of the Sunghir remains

J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2005 Jul;24(4):425-31. doi: 10.2114/jpa.24.425.


Sunghir is one of the most important Upper Palaeolithic sites in the world because of its most Northern location, the extraordinary richness of the artifacts, and the state of human bone preservation. The skeletal finds give evidence for the study both of adult and subadult body builds in the group. For the reconstruction of patterns of postcranial morphology, total measurements of bones and X-ray observations have been used. We have determined the basic structural traits typical for Sunghirians: small corticalisation of adult postcranial skeletons; large volume of the bone marrow cavity relative to the general size; quick tempo of attainment in early ontogenesis of large adult size combined with late synostoses ensuring prolonged linear growth; macroskelia combined with extreme andromorphy in the shoulder belt structure; capacious chest. The above traits can be interpreted in terms of adaptation to such formative factors as low temperature stress, deficit of atmospheric oxygen, high protein nutrition, and mechanical loads.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Child
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Fossils*
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Radiography
  • Russia