Supraorbital reduction from archaic to modern Homo sapiens in the Near East
Kaylor, Alisa C.
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The origin of modern humans has long been a controversial subject. Determining morphological patterns that differ between archaic and modern Homo sapiens can help decipher whether or not Neanderthals contributed to the modern human gene pool. One characteristic, the supraorbital torus, has shown considerable utility in this research. One of the distinctions between archaic and modern Homo sapiens is the overall reduction in toral size from the former to the latter. However, the pattern of browridge reduction is not the same in various geographic regions of the Old World. Different reduction patterns have been established in Europe and in Africa. However, the pattern of browridge reduction has yet to be fully documented in the Upper Pleistocene hominid sample from the critical region of the Near East. Projection and thickness in the supraorbital torus were taken on archaic, early modern and prehistoric modern crania from the Near East. Both dimensions were measured at three different points on the torus: medial, midorbital and lateral. The combination of these measurements can accurately show the shape of the supraorbital torus. ABSTRACT Statistical and phenetic analyses show supraorbital reduction in toral shape from archaic to early modern Homo sapiens in the Near East does not display either the European or the African pattern of reduction. Instead, the Near Eastern early modern sample contains a large degree of variation that encompasses the archaic human sample. While toral shape was variable in the early modern sample, frontal profile remained high, differing from the sloping forehead of the archaic sample. The mosaic nature of browridge morphology in the early modern Near Eastern sample can be seen as evidence of genetic continuity while maintaining two distinctive populations.