Dental maturational sequence and dental tissue proportions in the early Upper Paleolithic child from Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal

Priscilla Bayle, Roberto Macchiarelli, Erik Trinkaus, Cidalia Duarte, Arnaud Mazurier, Joao Zilhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

54 Citations (Scopus)


Neandertals differ from recent and terminal Pleistocene human populations in their patterns of dental development, endostructural ( internal structure) organization, and relative tissue proportions. Although significant changes in craniofacial and postcranial morphology have been found between the Middle Paleolithic and earlier Upper Paleolithic modern humans of western Eurasia and the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene inhabitants of the same region, most studies of dental maturation and structural morphology have compared Neandertals only to later Holocene humans. To assess whether earlier modern humans contrasted with later modern populations and possibly approached the Neandertal pattern, we used high-resolution microtomography to analyze the remarkably complete mixed dentition of the early Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian) child from Abrigo do Lagar Velho, Portugal, and compared it to a Neandertal sample, the late Upper Paleolithic (Magdalenian) child of La Madeleine, and a worldwide extant human sample. Some aspects of the dental maturational pattern and tooth endostructural organization of Lagar Velho 1 are absent from extant populations and the Magdalenian specimen and are currently documented only among Neandertals. Therefore, a simple Neandertal versus modern human dichotomy is inadequate to accommodate the morphostructural and developmental variation represented by Middle Paleolithic and earlier Upper Paleolithic populations. These data reinforce the complex nature of Neandertal-modern human similarities and differences, and document ongoing human evolution after the global establishment of modern human morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1338-1342
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2010

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