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, 108 (25), 10087-91

Morphology, Body Proportions, and Postcranial Hypertrophy of a Female Neandertal From the Sima De Las Palomas, Southeastern Spain

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Morphology, Body Proportions, and Postcranial Hypertrophy of a Female Neandertal From the Sima De Las Palomas, Southeastern Spain

Michael J Walker et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Abstract

Considerations of Neandertal geographical variation have been hampered by the dearth of remains from Mediterranean Europe and the absence there of sufficiently complete associated postcrania. The 2006 and 2007 excavation of an articulated partial skeleton of a small adult female Neandertal at the Sima de las Palomas, Murcia, southeastern Spain (Sima de las Palomas 96) provides substantial and secure information on body proportions among southern European Neandertals, as well as further documenting the nature of Neandertal biology in southern Iberia. The remains exhibit a suite of cranial, mandibular, dental, and postcranial features, of both Neandertals and archaic Homo generally, that distinguish them from contemporary and subsequent early modern humans. Its lower limbs exhibit the robustness of later Pleistocene Homo generally, and its upper limbs conform to the pattern of elevated robustness of the Neandertals. Its body proportions, including relative clavicular length, distal limb segment lengths, and body mass to stature indicators, conform to the "cold-adapted" pattern of more northern Neandertals. Palomas 96 therefore documents the presence of a suite of "Neandertal" characteristics in southern Iberia and, along with its small body size, the more "Arctic" body proportions of other European Neandertals despite the warmer climate of southern Iberia during marine isotope stage 3.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Right lateral view of the Palomas 96 crushed skull. The squamous frontal bone and the parietal bone are evident in pieces, as are the right supraorbital torus, the lateral zygomatic bone, the mandibular ramus, the infraorbital region of the right maxilla, and a portion of the dentition. (Scale bar: 5 cm.)
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
(A–C) Bivariate plots of radius length versus humerus length (A), tibia length versus femur length (B), and clavicle length versus humerus length (C) (SI Appendix, Tables S2 and S8 for individual lengths and SI Appendix, Table S9 for residual comparisons). SP96, Palomas 96; Nean, MIS 5d-3 Neandertals; E/MUP, MIS 3 Early/Mid-Upper Paleolithic modern humans; MPMH, MIS 5c Middle Paleolithic modern humans.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Femoral reflections of relative body breadth. (A) femur head diameter versus femur bicondylar length. (B) Femur midshaft (50%) anteroposterior versus mediolateral second moments of area. Abbreviations are as in Fig. 2. The relatively small Neandertal femoral head diameters are from southwest Asian remains. See SI Appendix, Table S10 for residual comparisons.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Locomotor robustness as reflected in femoral midshaft (50%) diaphyseal rigidity versus femoral biomechanical length times estimated body mass. Body mass was estimated from femoral head diameters using the average of sex-specific (as applicable) formulas (40, 41). Abbreviations are as in Fig. 2. See SI Appendix, Table S11 for residual comparisons.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.
(A and B) Scapular and thoracohumeral robustness, as reflected in scapular breadth (A) and pectoralis major tuberosity breadth (B) versus humeral length. Abbreviations are as in Fig. 2.
Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.
(A and B) Manual robustness reflected in relative hamulus size (A) and distal phalanx tuberosity breadth (B). Hamulus size was quantified as the geometric mean of the proximodistal, radioulnar, and dorsopalmar maximum dimensions of the hamulus. Distal tuberosity dimensions are the average of the dimensions from digits 2–4 as available by individual. Abbreviations are as in Fig. 2. See SI Appendix, Table S11 for phalangeal residual comparisons.

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