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Metric and morphological study of the upper cervical spine from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)



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Gómez Olivencia, Asier and Carretero, José Miguel and Arsuaga, Juan Luis and Rodríguez García, Laura and García González, Rebeca and Martínez Mendizábal, Ignacio (2007) Metric and morphological study of the upper cervical spine from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). Journal of Human Evolution, 53 . pp. 6-25. ISSN 0047-2484

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Official URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-human-evolution/


In this article, the upper cervical spine remains recovered from the Sima de los Huesos (SH) middle Pleistocene site in the Sierra de Atapuerca
(Burgos, Spain) are described and analyzed. To date, this site has yielded more than 5000 human fossils belonging to a minimum of 28
individuals of the species Homo heidelbergensis. At least eleven individuals are represented by the upper cervical (C1 and C2) specimens: six
adults and five subadults, one of which could represent an adolescent individual. The most complete adult vertebrae (three atlases and three axes)
are described, measured, and compared with other fossil hominins and modern humans. These six specimens are associated with one another and
represent three individuals. In addition, one of these sets of cervical vertebrae is associated with Cranium 5 (Individual XXI) from the site. The
metric analysis demonstrates that the Sima de los Huesos atlases and axes are metrically more similar to Neandertals than to our modern human
comparative sample. The SH atlases share with Neandertals a sagittally elongated canal. The most remarkable feature of the SH (and Neandertal)
axes is that they are craniocaudally low and mediolaterally wide compared to our modern male sample. Morphologically, the SH sample shares
with Neandertals a higher frequency of caudally projected anterior atlas arch, which could reflect greater development of the longus colli muscle.
In other features, such as the frequency of weakly developed tubercles for the attachment of the transverse ligament of the atlas, the Sima de los
Huesos fossils show intermediate frequencies between our modern comparative samples and the Neandertals, which could represent the primitive
condition. Our results are consistent with the previous phylogenetic interpretation of H. heidelbergensis as an exclusively European species,
ancestral only to H. neanderthalensis.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atlas; Axis; Cervical vertebrae; Middle Pleistocene; Sima de los Huesos
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:26867
Deposited On:30 Sep 2014 09:13
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:42

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