Upper Pleistocene hominid postcrania from Mlade? Cave, Moravia : a descriptive and comparative analysis with respect to current models of modern human emergence
Stockton, Trent C.
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Early Upper Pleistocene hominid remains from the site of Mlade? (Czech Republic) comprise perhaps the earliest known sample of modem Europeans. Several analyses of cranial morphology have emphasized the presence of unique anatomical links between the Mlade? sample and preceding central European Neandertals. This evidence has been used to support an argument for continuity across the late archaic/early modem boundary in this region of the world. The postcranial remains from Mlade?, however, are clearly within the early modem human range of variability, but exhibit considerable musculoskeletal and articular hypertrophy in a male innominate, a juvenile proximal radius and ulna, and a talus. Additionally, the presence of a proximo-lateral femoral flange on both of the Mlade? femora have been used in support of the continuity hypothesis. Given the significance of the Mlade? sample in determining evolutionary relationships in central Europe, a comparative morphological analysis with late archaic and early modem human post crania from Europe and the Near East was conducted. Results indicate that the Mlade? postcranial sample is morphologically commensurate with other Early Upper Paleolithic associated hominids and distinct from European and Near Eastern Neandertals. Although several of the Mlade? specimens exhibit absolutely large joint surfaces and musculoskeletal hypertrophy, these features do not distinguish them from early modem and more recent humans. The distribution and probable genetic origin of the proximolateral femoral flange suggests a European Neandertal ancestry for the Mlade? hominids, but the phylogenetic relevance of this feature remains equivocal.