Friday, June 08, 2012

Middle Pleistocene Hominin Height

Science Daily has a story on work being done with the material from the Sima de los Huesos cave at Atapuerca. 27 complete long bones have been discovered there and from these, it has been possible to estimate the height of Homo heidelbergensis. Science Daily writes:
The results suggest that both men and women in the Sima de los Huesos population were on average slightly higher than Neanderthal men and women. "Neither can be described as being short and both are placed in the medium and above-medium height categories. But, both species featured tall individuals," assured the experts.

The height of these two species is similar to that of modern day population of mid-latitudes, like in the case of Central Europe and the Mediterranean.

The humans who arrived in Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic era, Cro-Magnons or anatomically modern humans, replaced the Neanderthal populations. They were significantly taller than other human species and their average height for both sexes was higher, falling in the very tall individual category.

Height remained the same for some 2 million years.
We know from the remains at Turkana that, at least for some individuals, height close to that of modern humans had been achieved by 1.3 million years ago.This probably reflects (amongst other things) a massive increase in protein in the diet, which would come about by increased hunting, something present in late African Homo ergaster. More pieces of the puzzle.

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