Research suggests that recent modern humans have gracile skeletons in having low trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and that gracilization of the skeleton occurred in the last 10,000 years. This has been attributed to a reduction in physical activity in the Holocene. However, there has been no thorough sampling of BV/TV in Pleistocene humans due to limited access to high resolution images of fossil specimens. Therefore, our study investigates the gracilization of BV/TV in Late Pleistocene humans and recent (Holocene) modern humans to improve our understanding of the emergence of gracility. We used microcomputed tomography to measure BV/TV in the femora, humeri and metacarpals of a sample of Late Pleistocene humans from Dolní Věstonice (Czech Republic, ∼26 ka, n = 6) and Ohalo II (Israel, ∼19 ka, n = 1), and a sample of recent humans including farming groups (n = 39) and hunter-gatherers (n = 6). We predicted that 1) Late Pleistocene humans would exhibit greater femoral and humeral head BV/TV compared with recent humans and 2) among recent humans, metacarpal head BV/TV would be greater in hunter-gatherers compared with farmers. Late Pleistocene humans had higher BV/TV compared with recent humans in both the femur and humerus, supporting our first prediction, and consistent with previous findings that Late Pleistocene humans are robust as compared to recent humans. However, among recent humans, there was no significant difference in BV/TV in the metacarpals between the two subsistence groups. The results highlight the similarity in BV/TV in the hand of two human groups from different geographic locales and subsistence patterns and raise questions about assumptions of activity levels in archaeological populations and their relationships to trabecular BV/TV.

Full Text
Published version (Free)

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call