September 16, 2012

Teshik-Tash child is a Neandertal

Am J Phys Anthropol DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22133

The Mousterian child from Teshik-Tash is a Neanderthal: A geometric morphometric study of the frontal bone

Philipp Gunz, Ekaterina Bulygina

In the 1930s subadult hominin remains and Mousterian artifacts were discovered in the Teshik-Tash cave in South Uzbekistan. Since then, the majority of the scientific community has interpreted Teshik-Tash as a Neanderthal. However, some have considered aspects of the morphology of the Teshik-Tash skull to be more similar to fossil modern humans such as those represented at Skhūl and Qafzeh, or to subadult Upper Paleolithic modern humans. Here we present a 3D geometric morphometric analysis of the Teshik-Tash frontal bone in the context of developmental shape changes in recent modern humans, Neanderthals, and early modern humans. We assess the phenetic affinities of Teshik-Tash to other subadult fossils, and use developmental simulations to predict possible adult shapes. We find that the morphology of the frontal bone places the Teshik-Tash child close to other Neanderthal children and that the simulated adult shapes are closest to Neanderthal adults. Taken together with genetic data showing that Teshik-Tash carried mtDNA of the Neanderthal type, as well as its occipital bun, and its shovel-shaped upper incisors, these independent lines of evidence firmly place Teshik-Tash among Neanderthals.


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