The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Variation in the Neandertal pelvis


Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Friday All day, Park Concourse Add to calendar

The Neandertal pelvis has been used to claim that Neandertals differed from modern humans in the way that their bodies were shaped, in the way that they walked, and in the way that they gave birth. Previous studies have focused on the more complete pelves in the Neandertal sample, especially the nearly complete male, Kebara 2, and the most complete female on record, Tabun C1. While these pelvic remains are useful for identifying Neandertal features, a sample of two fails to account for variation within Neandertals. Additionally, the female Neandertal sample, which is essential to any discussion of birthing methods, is so fragmentary that it is usually overlooked in favor of using Tabun C1 because her pelvis is better preserved. I test the null hypothesis that there is no identifiable variation in pelvis form within the Neandertal sample. I analyze metric and nonmetric data, which I have collected on nearly every Neandertal fragment in the fossil record, including the overlooked fragmentary females. This is the first systematic analysis of Neandertal pelvis form based on the current fossil record. When my observations are compared across all Neandertals, several patterns emerge that suggest the null hypothesis can be rejected, and that there is formal variation in the pelvis of Neandertals. My discussion will explain which of these patterns may be due to sexual dimorphism, and which may result from population differences. My results will provide an important basis for analyzing future hypotheses that interpret Neandertal pelvic form.

This work was supported by the Levi-Sala CARE Foundation, Sigma Xi, Rackham Graduate School and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.

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