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Morphological description and comparison of the dental remains from Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos site (Spain)



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Martinón Torres, María and Bermúdez de Castro, José María and Gómez Robles, Aida and Prado Simón, Leyre and Arsuaga, Juan Luis (2012) Morphological description and comparison of the dental remains from Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos site (Spain). Journal of Human Evolution, 62 . pp. 7-58. ISSN 0047-2484

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


The systematic excavation of the Sima de los Huesos (SH) site in Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain) has
yielded the largest hominin collection worldwide for the Middle Pleistocene. The dental sample now
consists of more than 500 teeth that provide exceptional opportunities to define the dental morphological
pattern of a Middle Pleistocene population as well as develop hypotheses about the origins of the
Neanderthals. The dental collection has now increased to over 533 specimens (525 permanent and 8
deciduous teeth), necessitating new morphological assessments. Thus, we present a detailed morphological
description of the SH permanent dentition recovered up to 2007, accomplishing comparisons with
European Middle Pleistocene hominins, Neanderthals, and early and contemporary Homo sapiens. We
find that SH dentitions present all the morphological traits that, either in their degree of expression,
frequency, or particular combination, are usually considered as typical of Homo neanderthalensis. This
study ratifies the deep roots of the Neanderthal lineage in the Middle Pleistocene of Europe. In addition,
SH teeth are morphologically “more Neanderthal” than other penecontemporaneous Middle Pleistocene
samples such as Mauer or Arago, and even more derived than some classic Neanderthal samples. Thus,
our study would not sustain the linearity of the accretion process hypothesized for the origins of the
Neanderthals, and we suggest that other evolutionary models and scenarios should be explored for the
Middle and Upper Pleistocene of Europe. We propose that more than one hominin lineage may have
coexisted during the Middle Pleistocene in Europe.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atapuerca, Sima de los Huesos, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Teeth, Dental morphology
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:26987
Deposited On:06 Oct 2014 06:41
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:41

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