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Stature estimation from complete long bones in the Middle Pleistocene humans from the Sima de los Huesos, Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain)



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Carretero, José Miguel and Rodríguez García, Laura and García González, Rebeca and Arsuaga, Juan Luis and Gómez Olivencia, Asier and Lorenzo Merino, Carlos and Bonmatí, Alejandro and Gracia Téllez, Ana and Martínez Mendizábal, Ignacio and Quam, Rolf (2012) Stature estimation from complete long bones in the Middle Pleistocene humans from the Sima de los Huesos, Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain). Journal of Human Evolution, 62 . pp. 242-255. ISSN 0047-2484

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


Systematic excavations at the site of the Sima de los Huesos (SH) in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos,
Spain) have allowed us to reconstruct 27 complete long bones of the human species Homo heidelbergensis.
The SH sample is used here, together with a sample of 39 complete Homo neanderthalensis
long bones and 17 complete early Homo sapiens (Skhul/Qafzeh) long bones, to compare the stature of
these three different human species. Stature is estimated for each bone using race- and sex-independent
regression formulae, yielding an average stature for each bone within each taxon. The mean length of
each long bone from SH is significantly greater (p < 0.05) than the corresponding mean values in the
Neandertal sample. The stature has been calculated for male and female specimens separately, averaging
both means to calculate a general mean. This general mean stature for the entire sample of long bones is
163.6 cm for the SH hominins, 160.6 cm for Neandertals and 177.4 cm for early modern humans. Despite
some overlap in the ranges of variation, all mean values in the SH sample (whether considering isolated
bones, the upper or lower limb, males or females or more complete individuals) are larger than those of
Neandertals. Given the strong relationship between long bone length and stature, we conclude that SH
hominins represent a slightly taller population or species than the Neandertals. However, compared with
living European Mediterranean populations, neither the Sima de los Huesos hominins nor the Neandertals
should be considered ‘short’ people. In fact, the average stature within the genus Homo seems to
have changed little over the course of the last two million years, since the appearance of Homo ergaster in
East Africa. It is only with the emergence of H. sapiens, whose earliest representatives were ‘very tall’,
that a significant increase in stature can be documented.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Body size, Limb bones, Fossil humans, Homo heidelbergensis, Spain, European hominins
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:26998
Deposited On:06 Oct 2014 07:25
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:41

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