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The Neanderthal in the karst: First dating, morphometric, and paleogenetic data on the fossil skeleton from Altamura (Italy)

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Author(s)

  • Martina Lari
  • Fabio Di Vincenzo
  • Andrea Borsato
  • Silvia Ghirotto
  • Mario Micheli
  • Carlotta Balsamo
  • Carmine Collina
  • Gianluca De Bellis
  • Silvia Frisia
  • Giacomo Giacobini
  • Elena Gigli
  • John C. Hellstrom
  • Antonella Lannino
  • Alessandra Modi
  • Alessandro Pietrelli
  • Elena Pilli
  • Oscar Ramirez
  • Ermanno Rizzi
  • Stefania Vai
  • Donata Venturo
  • Marcello Piperno
  • Carles Lalueza-Fox
  • Guido Barbujani
  • David Caramelli
  • Giorgio Manzi

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalJournal of Human Evolution
DatePublished - 1 May 2015
Volume82
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)88-94
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In 1993, a fossil hominin skeleton was discovered in the karst caves of Lamalunga, near Altamura, in southern Italy. Despite the fact that this specimen represents one of the most extraordinary hominin specimens ever found in Europe, for the last two decades our knowledge of it has been based purely on the documented on-site observations. Recently, the retrieval from the cave of a fragment of bone (part of the right scapula) allowed the first dating of the individual, the quantitative analysis of a diagnostic morphological feature, and a preliminary paleogenetic characterization of this hominin skeleton from Altamura. Overall, the results concur in indicating that it belongs to the hypodigm of Homo neanderthalensis, with some phenetic peculiarities that appear consistent with a chronology ranging from 172±15ka to 130.1±1.9ka. Thus, the skeleton from Altamura represents the most ancient Neanderthal from which endogenous DNA has ever been extracted.

    Research areas

  • Ancient DNA, Geometric morphometrics, Scapula, U/TH dating

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