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, 83 (3), 359-72

Femur/stature Ratio and Estimates of Stature in Mid- And late-Pleistocene Fossil Hominids

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Femur/stature Ratio and Estimates of Stature in Mid- And late-Pleistocene Fossil Hominids

M R Feldesman et al. Am J Phys Anthropol.

Abstract

In previous limited investigations of the human femur/stature ratio we (Feldesman and Lundy: Journal of Human Evolution 17:583-596, 1988; Feldesman et al.: American Journal of Physical Anthropology 79:219-220, 1989) have shown it to be remarkably stable across ethnic and gender boundaries. In this study we evaluate the femur/stature ratio in 51 different "populations" of contemporary humans (n = 13,149) sampled from all over the world. We find that the mean ratio of femur length to stature in these populations is 26.74%, with a very restricted range of variation. When we compare mean femur/stature ratios of males and females, there are no statistically significant differences. ANOVA performed on a naive grouping of samples into "whites," "blacks," and "Asians" indicates that there are significant racial differences (P less than 0.001). When we subject these groups to Tukey's HSD procedure (a post-hoc test), we find that "blacks" are responsible for the significant ANOVA, being significantly (P less than 0.005) different from the other ethnic groups. "Whites" and "Asians" are not significantly different (P = 0.067) under the conditions of this analysis, although all these racial comparisons may be suspect given the small sample sizes. We tested the efficacy of the ratio in three situations: predicting stature of repatriated white Vietnam veterans; predicting stature in a random sample of South African blacks (of known stature), and predicting the stature of a single Akka pygmy. In the first and third cases, the femur/stature ratio does better than the traditionally recommended regression equation, while in the second case the predictions from the femur/stature ratio are less accurate than from the appropriate regression equation. These results encouraged us to apply this ratio to mid- and late-Pleistocene fossil hominids, where the choice of reference population for stature estimates continues to trouble workers. We estimated stature for a sizeable number of Homo erectus (HE), early Neanderthal (EN), Near Eastern Neanderthal (NEN), and early anatomically modern Homo sapiens (EAMHS) by using the simple relationship: stature (cm) = femur length (cm) * 100/26.74. Our results show that HE fossils are slightly taller on average than either EN or NEN samples, which do not differ significantly in stature, while EAMHS fossils are significantly taller than all three earlier groups. While these results are not surprising, our stature estimates for these fossils differ from currently published estimates based on sample-specific regression-based formulae.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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