The Place of Neandertals in the Evolution of Hominid Patterns of Growth and Development
Journal of Human Evolution
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This study uses the two developmental fields of dental maturation and femoral growth to determine if the pattern of growth and development in Neandertals (archaic Homo sapiens) was intermediate between that of Homo erectus and recent modern humans. Specimens used in the analysis included Neandertals and Upper Palaeolithic early modern Homo sapiens from Europe and individuals from two recent modern human populations. Ontogenetic data for the H. erectus adolescent KNM-WT 15000 and for Gorilla gorilla were included for comparison. Previous reports have indicated that H. erectus demonstrates a pattern of ontogeny characterized by earlier and more rapid linear growth than in modern humans. Results reported here demonstrate that Upper Paleolithic early modern Homo sapiens display a growth trajectory indistinguishable from that of recent modern humans. The pattern of Neandertal ontogeny is not intermediate between the pattern displayed in H. erectus and the derived pattern seen in the modern reference samples and the early modern H. sapiens sample. The Neandertal growth trajectory is consistent with either slow linear growth or advanced dental development.