Middle Paleolithic and Uluzzian human remains from Fumane Cave, Italy

J Hum Evol. 2014 May;70:61-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Mar 22.

Abstract

The site of Fumane Cave (western Lessini Mountains, Italy) contains a stratigraphic sequence spanning the Middle to early Upper Paleolithic. During excavations from 1989 to 2011, four human teeth were unearthed from the Mousterian (Fumane 1, 4, 5) and Uluzzian (Fumane 6) levels of the cave. In this contribution, we provide the first morphological description and morphometric analysis of the dental remains. All of the human remains, except for Fumane 6, are deciduous teeth. Based on metric data (crown and cervical outline analysis, and lateral enamel thickness) and non-metric dental traits (e.g., mid-trigonid crest), Fumane 1 (lower left second deciduous molar) clearly belongs to a Neandertal. For Fumane 4 (upper right central deciduous incisor), the taxonomic attribution is difficult due to heavy incisal wear. Some morphological features observed in Fumane 5 (lower right lateral deciduous incisor), coupled with the large size of the tooth, support Neandertal affinity. Fumane 6, a fragment of a permanent molar, does not show any morphological features useful for taxonomic discrimination. The human teeth from Fumane Cave increase the sample of Italian fossil remains, and emphasize the need to develop new methods to extract meaningful taxonomic information from deciduous and worn teeth.

Keywords: Deciduous teeth; Homo neanderthalensis; Homo sapiens; Late Pleistocene; Southern Europe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Archaeology*
  • Caves
  • Fossils*
  • Humans
  • Incisor / anatomy & histology*
  • Italy
  • Molar / anatomy & histology*
  • Neanderthals / anatomy & histology
  • Paleodontology
  • Tooth, Deciduous / anatomy & histology*