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


New Neanderthal remains from Chagyrskaya Cave (Altai Mountains, Russian Federation)

BENCE TH. VIOLA1,2, SERGEY V. MARKIN3, ALEXANDRA P. BUZHILOVA4, MARIA B. MEDNIKOVA5, MARIA V. DOBROVOLSKAYA5, ADELINE LE CABEC1,6, MICHAEL V. SHUNKOV3, ANATOLY P. DEREVIANKO3 and JEAN-JACQUES HUBLIN1.

1Department of Human Evolution, Max-Planck-Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, 2Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max-Planck-Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, 3Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation, 4Museum of Anthropology, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation, 5Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation, 6UMR 5288 CNRS, Anthropobiologie et Imagerie Anatomique, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

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In 2007, Krause and colleagues published Neanderthal-like mitochondrial DNA sequences from hominin remains found at Okladnikov Cave in the Altai Mountains (Russian Federation). Partly due to their fragmentary nature, the Okladnikov remains lack derived Neanderthal traits.

Since 2007, one of us (SVM) leads the excavation of a new, rich Middle Palaeolithic site - Chagyrskaya cave in the Charysh valley, about 70 km southwest of Okladnikov Cave. The deposits yielded a Mousterian industry of the Sibiryachikha tradition, very similar to Okladnikov cave. Absolute dating of the site is in progress, but biostratigraphic data indicates that the material probably belongs to the Karginian interstadial (OIS 3). Besides the industry and a rich faunal collection, several hominin remains were also recovered in Layer 6b and 6v.

The specimens from Layer 6b are a small worn upper deciduous canine, and an atlas fragment of a 3-5 year old child, none of which is very diagnostic. The material from the underlying horizon 6v includes an upper P4 fragment and a lower incisor worn to the cervix. Both are small, and have very short roots.

In 2011, we found a partial mandible including the right corpus and C-M2 in Layer 6v. This specimen shows several derived Neanderthal traits, including continuous midtrigonid crests on the M1 and M2, a strongly asymmetrical P4, a posteriorly placed mental foramen and an oblique mylohyoid line. Thus, this specimen allows us for the first time to morphologically link material from the Altai to Western Eurasian Neanderthals.

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