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Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 10;5:4094. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5094.

Craniometric analysis of European Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic samples supports discontinuity at the Last Glacial Maximum.

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Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, Western Road, Cork, Ireland.
Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 2E9.
1] Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14261-0005, USA [2] Department of Anthropology, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NR, UK.
1] School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland [2] Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) represents the most significant climatic event since the emergence of anatomically modern humans (AMH). In Europe, the LGM may have played a role in changing morphological features as a result of adaptive and stochastic processes. We use craniometric data to examine morphological diversity in pre- and post-LGM specimens. Craniometric variation is assessed across four periods--pre-LGM, late glacial, Early Holocene and Middle Holocene--using a large, well-dated, data set. Our results show significant differences across the four periods, using a MANOVA on size-adjusted cranial measurements. A discriminant function analysis shows separation between pre-LGM and later groups. Analyses repeated on a subsample, controlled for time and location, yield similar results. The results are largely influenced by facial measurements and are most consistent with neutral demographic processes. These findings suggest that the LGM had a major impact on AMH populations in Europe prior to the Neolithic.

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