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Friday, January 8, 2010

Lagar Velho child had modern human teeth

Mundo Neandertal leads me to a new research paper that shows that the teeth of the Lagar Velho child, arguably the most clear case of Neanderthal-Sapiens hybridization, in spite of being several thousand years more recent than the last known Neanderthals, had teeth that compare well with those of extant modern humans and, in particular, with young H. sapiens from La Madeleine (LM4).

Ref.: Priscilla Bayle et al. Dental maturational sequence and dental tissue proportions in the early Upper Paleolithic child from Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal. PNAS 2010 (paywall or free access depending on your world region, supplementary material freely accessible in any case).

It is noticeable that more and more the support for the specimen being any type of hybrid seems to vanish. Computer Assisted Paleoanthropology clearly states that a comparative geometric-morphometric analysis of the Lagar Velho cranium clusters this individual with modern human children of age 3 to 4 and does not reveal Neanderthal affinities.

So I understand that is fair to say that at the present stage of research there is not a single specimen that can clearly be described as hybrid of H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis, which is coincident with the growing genetic evidence against such hybridation.


Manju Edangam said...

It is noticeable that more and more the support for the specimen being any type of hybrid seems to vanish.

BBC yet to update. But they appeared to have read the same paper in PNAS.

The researchers found that the skeleton's teeth shared some features with Neanderthals rather than modern humans.

Although this does not settle the argument of whether the child was a hybrid, it does indicate, the researchers write, that "these earlier Upper Palaeolithic humans are not simply older versions of [today's] humanity".

Maju said...

Your link refers to another paper on some paint discoveries from Murcia. I saw no notice of the Lagar Velho kid.

Whatever the case, you should be able to access the paper from India (if you can't, I can send you a copy by email), so judge yourself. The authors emphasize that while some minor elements may be closer to Neanderthal than the average of extant modern humans (most elements are not and in fact align well with our modern standards) this is only because either they still retain some minor archaic tendencies (also apparent in other fossil humans) or because of other "technical" issues. They argue that the simplistic Neanderthal vs AMH is not a really valid approach and all the time they treat the fossil as a modern human of Gravettian culture.

Manju Edangam said...

My goodness! They removed that part. In fact there was a subheading about this child and they mentioned that "another article in the same issue of PNAS".

Yes, I can access the article. Thanks!