The Krapina Neandertal temporal bone morphology : a morphometric and ontogenetic analysis
Sothman, Patricia L.
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Many researchers have argued that Neandertal craniofacial morphology contains unique features which distinguish Neandertals from all previous archaic and subsequent modem humans at the species level. Few published studies have specifically examined the variation contained within Neandertal craniofacial morphology along with providing detailed morphometric comparisons with modem populations. This study attempts to provide quantitative and qualitative data taken along the temporal bone (a bone on the side of the cranial vault) from one "population" of Neandertals, the Krapina collection. The Croatian rockshelter of Krapina has yielded over 800 fragments of human fossils deposited within a short time span of approximately 10,000 years. These remains have been used as an approximation of a Neandertal "population" because of its limitations in deposition. Three comparative samples were also examined, two Bronze Age sites from Bosnia, Pod and Vlasic, and one recent modem human sample housed at Northern Illinois University. For this thesis a variety of data were collected including descriptive, categorical, ontogenetic, metrical and angular. The total morphological pattern of the Neandertal temporal bone reflects its archaicness with respect to robusticity; however, much of the morphology along the Krapina temporal bones is commensurate with modem humans. The Krapina Neandertal temporal bones can be distinguished from the modem comparative samples by a variety of the categorical data, with one exception. One feature which has been used to distinguish Neandertals, the anterior mastoid tubercle, is unique in its absence from the Krapina specimens. The Krapina specimens demonstrate angulation along the petrosal which also distinguish them from the modem samples. However, numerous features do not differentiate the samples including thickness measurements along the anterior and inferior tympanies, mandibular fossa widths, measurements along the petrosal pyramid, dimensions of the external acoustic meatus and thickness measurements along the post-glenoid process. The overall patterning of the results obtained indicate that the Krapina Neandertals probably are not a separate species from previous and subsequent populations but that a combination of characteristics and morphometries along the temporal bone could be used to assess populational affinity.