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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001780


Abstract

Newly discovered fossil assemblages of small bodied Homo sapiens from Palau, Micronesia possess characters thought to be taxonomically primitive for the genus Homo.

Background

Recent surface collection and test excavation in limestone caves in the rock islands of Palau, Micronesia, has produced a sizeable sample of human skeletal remains dating roughly between 940-2890 cal ybp.

Principle Findings

Preliminary analysis indicates that this material is important for two reasons. First, individuals from the older time horizons are small in body size even relative to “pygmoid” populations from Southeast Asia and Indonesia, and thus may represent a marked case of human insular dwarfism. Second, while possessing a number of derived features that align them with Homo sapiens, the human remains from Palau also exhibit several skeletal traits that are considered to be primitive for the genus Homo.

Significance


These features may be previously unrecognized developmental correlates of small body size and, if so, they may have important implications for interpreting the taxonomic affinities of fossil specimens of Homo.

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