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J Hum Evol. 1997 Aug-Sep;33(2-3):357-408.

Clavicles, scapulae and humeri from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain).

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Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3160, USA.


The scapulae, clavicles and humeri recovered from the Sima de los Huesos (SH) site between 1976 and 1994 are studied. All elements are briefly described anatomically with metrics and compared with other fossil hominids in order to establish the morphological pattern of the SH hominids. A minimum of 13 individuals are represented by the humeri in the SH sample. Almost all of them can be classified as adolescents and young adults. The morphology of the SH hominid shoulder girdle and humeri indicates that much of the shoulder morphology recognized in the later true Neandertal was present in Europe long before they appeared. Thus, this morphological pattern is not exclusive to Neandertals alone. The SH clavicles, scapulae and humeri share with the Neandertals many traits usually considered to be Neandertal specializations. The comparative analysis of the SH evidence suggests that most of the SH and Neandertal shared traits are either primitive features within the genus Homo or even for all hominids, or display high variability within different hominid samples. These traits must be used with caution, or not used at all, in phylogenetic analysis. There are, however, traits that to date have only been detected in the SH hominids and the Neanderials, which could be exclusive to the European phyletic lineage (clade) of Homo.

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