June 11, 2014
Craniometric discontinuity at the Last Glacial Maximum in Europe
Nature Communications 5, Article number: 4094 doi:10.1038/ncomms5094
Craniometric analysis of European Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic samples supports discontinuity at the Last Glacial Maximum
Ciaraán Brewster et al.
The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) represents the most significant climatic event since the emergence of anatomically modern humans (AMH). In Europe, the LGM may have played a role in changing morphological features as a result of adaptive and stochastic processes. We use craniometric data to examine morphological diversity in pre- and post-LGM specimens. Craniometric variation is assessed across four periods—pre-LGM, late glacial, Early Holocene and Middle Holocene—using a large, well-dated, data set. Our results show significant differences across the four periods, using a MANOVA on size-adjusted cranial measurements. A discriminant function analysis shows separation between pre-LGM and later groups. Analyses repeated on a subsample, controlled for time and location, yield similar results. The results are largely influenced by facial measurements and are most consistent with neutral demographic processes. These findings suggest that the LGM had a major impact on AMH populations in Europe prior to the Neolithic.