Moscow University

Non-destructive 3D microscopy in the study of patterns of biological adaptation among fossil and recent Homo

Mednikova M.B. (1), Kazansky P.R. (2)

1) Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dm. Ulyanova str., 19, Moscow, 117036, Russia; 2) Systems for Microscopy and Analysis LLC, 45 Skolkovskoe sh., 121353 Moscow, Russia

Mednikova Maria B., PhD, D.Sci.; ORCID ID: 0000-0002-1918-2161;; Kazanskiy Pavel R., Dr. Rer. Nat.; ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9406-5184;


Introduction. Metabolic rate and heat exchange parameters play a major role in human biological adaptation in different climes. Microscopic examination and volumetric characterization of bone tissue will help us to understand how common adaptive patterns of human constitution may define variations in metabolic rate on microstructural level. The aim of the study was to test microstructural diversity of bone tissue of fossil Asian and European Pleistocene hominids of differing origin, establishing distinctive features in forms adapted for cold and warm climes. Materials and methods. We apply non-destructive volumetric technique for evaluation of vascular net density in compact bone. Segmentation of Haversian canals and accurate estimation of their relative volume fraction gives the opportunity to estimate the density and capacity of the vascular system of the bone tissue in a proxy way. Radiological images of dorsal compact of medial and distal phalanges were studied (Neanderthals from Altai and Europe; CroMagnons; recent humans of Arctic and African origin). Results. High vascularization of compact clearly demonstrates that European Neanderthals and the majority of AMH were adapted to the Glacial Age. But Kostenki 14 (Eastern Europe) and Strashnaya 4 (Altai) have features in common with humans of recent tropic origin. Specimens of Neanderthals which lived in Altai region where glaciers never occurred are more diverse. Hypothetically the milder climate favored the existence of a wider adaptive norm reflecting patterns of former environments. Somewhat ambiguous morphological patterns of Denisova 9 and Okladnikov 2, 5 may reflect various episodes of Neanderthal migration to Siberia and their hybridization with people of tropical ancestry, most probably the early AMH. Chagyrskaya Neanderthal demonstrates a hyper-cold adaptation. Conclusion. Diversity in microstructural patterns of the Pleistocene people’s skeletal system gives evidence that both Neanderthals and CroMagnons were polymorphic in their adaptive reactions and presumably included both warm and cold adapted forms.


Neanderthals; CroMagnons; heat exchange; vascularization of compact of tubular bones

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2021.1.093-108

Цит.: Mednikova M.B., Kazansky P.R. Non-destructive 3D microscopy in the study of patterns of biological adaptation among fossil and recent Homo // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2021; 1/2021; с. 93-108

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