Pestera cu Oase 2 and the cranial morphology of early modern Europeans

Helene Rougier, Stefan Milota, Ricardo Rodrigo, Mircea Gherase, Laurentiu Sarcina, Oana Moldovan, Joao Zilhao, Silviu Constantin, Robert G. Franciscus, Christoph P. E. Zollikofer, Marcia Ponce de Leon, Erik Trinkaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Between 2003 and 2005, the Pestera cu Oase, Romania yielded a largely complete early modern human cranium, Oase 2, scattered on the surface of a Late Pleistocene hydraulically displaced bone bed containing principally the remains of Ursus spelaeus. Multiple lines of evidence indicate an age of approximate to 40.5 thousand calendar years before the present (approximate to 35 ka C-14 B.P.). Morphological comparison of the adolescent Oase 2 cranium to relevant Late Pleistocene human samples documents a suite of derived modern human and/or non-Neandertal features, including absence of a supraorbital torus, subrectangular orbits, prominent canine fossae, narrow nasal aperture, level nasal floor, angled and anteriorly oriented zygomatic bones, a high neurocranium with prominent parietal bosses and marked sagittal parietal curvature, superiorly positioned temporal zygomatic root, vertical auditory porous, laterally bulbous mastoid processes, superiorly positioned posterior semicircular canal, absence of a nuchal torus and a suprainiac fossa, and a small occipital bun. However, these features are associated with an exceptionally flat frontal arc, a moderately large juxtamastoid eminence, extremely large molars that become progressively larger distally, complex occlusal morphology of the upper third molar, and relatively anteriorly positioned zygomatic arches. Moreover, the featureless occipital region and small mastoid process are at variance with the large facial skeleton and dentition. This unusual mosaic in Oase 2, some of which is paralleled in the Oase 1 mandible, indicates both complex population dynamics as modern humans dispersed into Europe and significant ongoing human evolution once modern humans were established within Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1170
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume104
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2007

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