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J Hum Evol. 2014 Nov;76:63-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.05.005. Epub 2014 Jun 21.

Human calcanei from the Middle Pleistocene site of Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain).

Author information

1
Laboratorio de Evolución Humana (LEH), Departamento de Ciencias Históricas y Geografía, Universidad de Burgos, Edificio I+D+i, Plaza Misael Bañuelos s/n, 09001 Burgos, Spain; Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, c/Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain; Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca s/n, 09002 Burgos, Spain. Electronic address: apablos@isciii.es.
2
Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, c/Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain; Área de Paleontología, Departamento de Geología, Geografía y Medio Ambiente, Universidad de Alcalá, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain.
3
Area de Prehistoria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain; IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, c/Marcel.lÍ Domingo s/n, 43007 Tarragona, Spain; Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, c/Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain.
4
Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, c/Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain.
5
Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos, c/Monforte de Lemos, 5, 28029 Madrid, Spain; Departamento de Paleontología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avenida Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

The existence of calcanei in the fossil record prior to modern humans and Neandertals is very scarce. This skeletal element is fundamental to understanding the evolution of the morphology of the foot in human evolution. Here we present and metrically and comparatively describe 29 calcaneus remains from the Middle Pleistocene site of Sima de los Huesos (SH) (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). These calcanei belong to 15 individuals (nine adults, two adolescents and four immature individuals). The metric and morphological differences in the calcanei among Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins tend to be subtle. However, the calcanei from SH are broad and robust with large articular surfaces and most significantly, exhibit a very projected sustentaculum tali. A biomechanical and phylogenetic interpretation is proffered to explain the observed morphology of these calcanei. It has been possible to propose tentative sex assignments for the SH calcanei based on size, using methods similar to those used to establish sex from the talus bones from SH. The estimation of stature based on the calcaneus provides a mean of 175.3 cm for males and 160.6 for females, which is similar to that obtained using other skeletal parts from the site. In sum, the SH calcanei are robust with a proportionally long tubercle and a projected sustentaculum tali, which are traits shared by Neandertals.

KEYWORDS:

Calcaneus; Foot; Heel; Homo heidelbergensis; Homo neanderthalensis; Stature; Western Europe

PMID:
24962476
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.05.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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