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Modern Human Cranial Diversity in the Late Pleistocene of Africa and Eurasia: Evidence From Nazlet Khater, Pestera cu Oase, and Hofmeyr

By Isabelle Crevecoeur, Hélène Rougier, Frederick Grine and Alain Froment

Abstract

International audienceThe origin and evolutionary history of modern humans is of considerable interest to paleoanthropologists and geneticists alike. Paleontological evidence suggests that recent humans originated and expanded from an African lineage that may have undergone demographic crises in the Late Pleistocene according to archaeological and genetic data. This would suggest that extant human populations derive from, and perhaps sample a restricted part of the genetic and morphological variation that was present in the Late Pleistocene. Crania that date to Marine Isotope Stage 3 should yield information pertaining to the level of Late Pleistocene human phenotypic diversity and its evolution in modern humans. The Nazlet Khater (NK) and Hofmeyr (HOF) crania from Egypt and South Africa, together with penecontemporaneous specimens from the Pestera cu Oase in Romania, permit preliminary assessment of variation among modern humans from geographically disparate regions at this time. Morphometric and morphological comparisons with other Late Pleistocene modern human specimens, and with 23 recent human population samples, reveal that elevated levels of variation are present throughout the Late Pleistocene. Comparison of Holocene and Late Pleistocene craniometric variation through resampling analyses supports hypotheses derived from genetic data suggesting that present phenotypic variation may represent only a restricted part of Late Pleistocene human diversity. The Nazlet Khater, Hofmeyr, and Oase specimens provide a unique glimpse of that diversity

Topics: modern human origins, Africa, Eurasia, craniometric data, [SHS.ANTHRO-BIO]Humanities and Social Sciences/Biological anthropology
Publisher: 'Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG)'
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:halshs-00475263v1
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