The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Occlusal microwear texture analysis of Croatian Neandertals


1Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Indianapolis

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Aspects of Neandertal diet have been examined using a variety of techniques. Recently, dental microwear texture analysis has been used to make inferences about diet in Neandertals. Previous research by el Zaatari found that there was ecogeographic variation in Neandertal diet, with texture values being higher for Neandertals living in woodland areas than for those living in dryer steppe regions. We examined 24 molars (preferably the lower M2) from Krapina (n=20) and Vindija (n=4) using white light confocal microscopy. Three variables were assessed using Toothfrax and Sfrax software to describe molar occlusal surfaces via scale-sensitive fractal geometry. The variables used were complexity (Asfc), anisotropy (epLsar), and textural fill volume (tfv). We hypothesized that the molars from Krapina and Vindija would have higher texture values than those reported for Neandertals from more open environments. Our results indicate that Vindija had complexity and anisotropy values (0.84 and 0.0027, respectively) that are comparable to woodland Neandertals and Pre-Neandertals. Likewise, Krapina had complexity that is similar to woodland Neandertals (1.11), but its anisotropy is far higher (0.0042), indicating a more fibrous diet. Tfv was higher for Vindija (46,367) than Krapina (35,518) indicating that its diet was harder. Dates for Krapina place it at approximately 130,000 years ago, which is far older than Vindija (about 42,000 years ago for level G3). The higher anisotropy at Krapina might relate to its earlier age, slight ecological differences, or depositional environment.

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