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J Hum Evol. 2000 Mar;38(3):367-409.

The human chin revisited: what is it and who has it?

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1
Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA. jhs+@pitt.edu

Abstract

Although the presence of a "chin" has long been recognized as unique to Homo sapiens among mammals, both the ontogeny and the morphological details of this structure have been largely overlooked. Here we point out the essential features of symphyseal morphology in H. sapiens, which are present and well-defined in the fetus at least as early as the fifth gestational month. Differences among adults in expression of these structures, particularly in the prominence of the mental tuberosity, are developmental epiphenomena and serve to emphasize the importance of studying this region in juveniles whenever possible. A survey of various middle to late Pleistocene fossil hominids for which juveniles are known reveals that these features are present in some late Pleistocene specimens assigned to H. sapiens, but not in all of the presumed anatomically modern H. sapiens (i.e., Qafzeh 8, 9, and 11). The adult specimens from Skhūl, as well as the adult Qafzeh 7 specimen, are similarly distinctive in symphyseal morphology. Neanderthals are quite variable in their own right, and they as well as other middle to late Pleistocene fossils lack the symphyseal features of H. sapiens. Some of the latter are, however, seen in the Tighenif (Ternifine) mandibles.

PMID:
10683306
DOI:
10.1006/jhev.1999.0339
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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