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

Cranial morphology of early human skeletal remains from Lapa do Santo, Lagoa Santa, Brazil: Implications for the settlement of the New World


1Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, Biosciences Institute, University of São Paulo, 2Department of Human Evolution, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 3Children's Institute, School of Medicine of University of São Paulo

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Lapa do Santo is a rock shelter located in Lagoa Santa (central Brazil) where 28 human burials have been excavated since 2001. A subset of 13 burials is of early Holocene age, with six individuals directly dated to between ca. 9,000 and 8,200 BP. The other burials are from different chronological periods, varying to between ca. 5,000 and 7,700 BP. In this study we compared the cranial morphology of eight (five from the older chronological set) best preserved adult skulls recovered from Lapa do Santo with two other early South American paleoamerican series: Sumidouro (n=13), also from Lagoa Santa, and Sabana de Bogota (n=57), from Colombia. The worldwide human cranial variation, represented by 18 populations from Howell’s databank (n=1,684) was also included in the study. The morphological affinities among the series were explored through two different multivariate statistical techniques: Principal Components Analysis and Mahalanobis Distances. Both males and females were used in the analyses and the data was previously treated by means of double standardization to correct for sexual dimorphism and size. Our results show a strong association between Lapa do Santo and the other two South American paleoamerican series represented in the study. Within a worldwide perspective Lapa do Santo shows a clear association with Africans and Australo-Melanesians instead of with Asians and late Amerindians. These results support the idea that the New World was settled by two independent Asian colonizing biological stocks along time.

FAPESP (04/01321-6 and 08/58729-8), CNPq (300917/2010-4).

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