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Dentine morphology of Atapuerca‐Sima de los Huesos lower molars: Evolutionary implications through three‐dimensional geometric morphometric analysis



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Hanegraef, Hester and Martinón-Torres, María and Martínez de Pinillos, Marina and Martín-Francés, Laura and Vialet, Amélie and Arsuaga, Juan Luis and Bermúdez de Castro, José María (2018) Dentine morphology of Atapuerca‐Sima de los Huesos lower molars: Evolutionary implications through three‐dimensional geometric morphometric analysis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology . ISSN ISSN: 0002-9483, Online ISSN: 1096-8644

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Official URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajpa.23428


This study aims to explore the affinities of the Sima de los Huesos (SH) population in relation to Homo neanderthalensis, Arago, and early and contemporary Homo sapiens. By characterizing SH intra‐population variation, we test current models to explain the Neanderthal origins.

Materials and Methods
Three‐dimensional reconstructions of dentine surfaces of lower first and second molars were produced by micro‐computed tomography. Landmarks and sliding semilandmarks were subjected to generalized Procrustes analysis and principal components analysis.

SH is often similar in shape to Neanderthals, and both groups are generally discernible from Homo sapiens. For example, the crown height of SH and Neanderthals is lower than for modern humans. Differences in the presence of a mid‐trigonid crest are also observed, with contemporary Homo sapiens usually lacking this feature. Although SH and Neanderthals show strong affinities, they can be discriminated based on certain traits. SH individuals are characterized by a lower intra‐population variability, and show a derived dental reduction in lower second molars compared to Neanderthals. SH also differs in morphological features from specimens that are often classified as Homo heidelbergensis, such as a lower crown height and less pronounced mid‐trigonid crest in the Arago fossils.

Our results are compatible with the idea that multiple evolutionary lineages or populations coexisted in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene, with the SH paradigm phylogenetically closer to Homo neanderthalensis. Further research could support the possibility of SH as a separate taxon. Alternatively, SH could be a subspecies of Neanderthals, with the variability of this clade being remarkably higher than previously thought.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:dental anthropology, European Pleistocene, hominin taxonomy, Neanderthal origins
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
Medical sciences > Biology > Evolution
ID Code:47203
Deposited On:17 Apr 2018 07:36
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:41

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