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J Hum Evol. 1998 May;34(5):443-68.

Discrete trait and dental morphometric affinities of the Tabun 2 mandible.

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Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque 87131, USA.


Evolutionary scenarios of Near Eastern Middle Paleolithic hominids depend to an extent upon whether the terminal Middle Pleistocene Tabun 2 mandible has its primary affinities with the late archaic (Neandertal sensu lato) or early modern (Qafzeh-Skhul) human lineage in the region. Since the specimen has been assigned to each group or seen as bridging them, we have re-examined its morphological affinities relative to these two samples, as well as to European samples of later Pleistocene hominids. This has been done with respect to posterior corporeal and ramal discrete traits, symphyseal morphology, and proportional morphometric patterns along the dental arcade. Taking within and between sample ranges of variation into account, the lateral corporeal and ramal discrete characters are either ambiguous or suggest Neandertal affinities. Anterior symphyseal morphology is largely unknown, but a mentum osseum is indicated by a moderate incisura mandibulare anterior, and the tuber symphyseos did not extend superiorly toward the alveoli, a non-modern arrangement. The lingual symphysis presents the largest planum alveolare known for a Near Eastern Middle Paleolithic hominid. Morphometric analysis of proportions along the dental arcade separate Tabun 2 from Near Eastern and European early modern humans and place it among the late archaic humans. It is dentally closest to the Near Eastern late archaic human lineage and the Krapina sample. These analyses therefore indicate that it is best seen as part of the Near Eastern late archaic human lineage with only the mentum osseum and incisure shape indicating any approach to the Qafzeh-Skhul humans within the Near Eastern Middle Paleolithic.

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