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. 2006 Dec 19;103(51):19266-71.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.0609662104. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

Paleobiology and Comparative Morphology of a Late Neandertal Sample From El Sidron, Asturias, Spain

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Free PMC article

Paleobiology and Comparative Morphology of a Late Neandertal Sample From El Sidron, Asturias, Spain

Antonio Rosas et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Fossil evidence from the Iberian Peninsula is essential for understanding Neandertal evolution and history. Since 2000, a new sample approximately 43,000 years old has been systematically recovered at the El Sidrón cave site (Asturias, Spain). Human remains almost exclusively compose the bone assemblage. All of the skeletal parts are preserved, and there is a moderate occurrence of Middle Paleolithic stone tools. A minimum number of eight individuals are represented, and ancient mtDNA has been extracted from dental and osteological remains. Paleobiology of the El Sidrón archaic humans fits the pattern found in other Neandertal samples: a high incidence of dental hypoplasia and interproximal grooves, yet no traumatic lesions are present. Moreover, unambiguous evidence of human-induced modifications has been found on the human remains. Morphologically, the El Sidrón humans show a large number of Neandertal lineage-derived features even though certain traits place the sample at the limits of Neandertal variation. Integrating the El Sidrón human mandibles into the larger Neandertal sample reveals a north-south geographic patterning, with southern Neandertals showing broader faces with increased lower facial heights. The large El Sidrón sample therefore augments the European evolutionary lineage fossil record and supports ecogeographical variability across Neandertal populations.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Localization of the El Sidrón site in Asturias (Spain). A map of the cave system with the Osario Gallery show the excavated area.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Mandibles from El Sidrón site and paleobiological aspects of the sample. (A) Mandible 1. (B) Mandible 2. (C) Mandible 3. (D) Interproximal facet with subvertical grooves. (E), Enamel hypoplasia defects in the specimen SD-1161. (F) Cutmarks on the basal border of Mandible 3. [Scale bar: 3 cm (AC); 1 mm (D); 1 cm (E and F).]
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
SD-1219 El Sidrón occipitomastoid region. Shown are posterior (A), left side (B), and interior (C) views. (Scale bar: 3 cm.)
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Mandibular measurements and indices suggesting geographic patterning in Neandertal populations. (Left and Center) Box plots of significantly different variables in a north–south geographic polarity. Box plots provide means, mean ± SE (box), and mean ± SD (whiskers). (Right) Outliers appear as circles. Scatter plot of two indices of mandibular variables is shown. EMP, European Middle Pleistocene; Northern, northern Neandertals; Southern, southern Neandertals; For, mental foramen; M3, bucodistal corner of the alveolus; Lin, Lingula mandibulae. Corpus height is at the level of the mental foramen. EMP specimens were from Arago, Mauer, and Atapuerca-SH. Northern Neandertals were from La Ferrassie, La Quina, Le Moustier, La Chapelle-aux-Saints, St. Césaire, La Chaise (L' Abri Suard), Spy, Regourdou, Ehringsdorf, and Aubesier. Southern Neandertals were from El Sidrón, Guattari, Zafarraya, Krapina, Vindija, Amud, Kebara, Tabun, and Shanidar.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.
Thin-plate spline transformations of the mean shape into a predicted shape according to singular vector scores of a north–south axis. (A) Partial least-squares analysis. (B) 3D mean shape differences between northern and southern Neandertal samples.

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