Morphology, body proportions, and postcranial hypertrophy of a female Neandertal from the Sima de las Palomas, southeastern Spain
Considerations of Neandertal geographical variation have been hampered by the dearth of remains from Mediterranean Europe and the absence there of sufficiently complete associated postcrania. The 2006 and 2007 excavation of an articulated partial skeleton of a small adult female Neandertal at the Sima de las Palomas, Murcia, southeastern Spain (Sima de las Palomas 96) provides substantial and secure information on body proportions among southern European Neandertals, as well as further documenting the nature of Neandertal biology in southern Iberia. The remains exhibit a suite of cranial, mandibular, dental, and postcranial features, of both Neandertals and archaic Homo generally, that distinguish them from contemporary and subsequent early modern humans. Its lower limbs exhibit the robustness of later Pleistocene Homo generally, and its upper limbs conform to the pattern of elevated robustness of the Neandertals. Its body proportions, including relative clavicular length, distal limb segment lengths, and body mass to stature indicators, conform to the "cold-adapted" pattern of more northern Neandertals. Palomas 96 therefore documents the presence of a suite of "Neandertal" characteristics in southern Iberia and, along with its small body size, the more "Arctic" body proportions of other European Neandertals despite the warmer climate of southern Iberia during marine isotope stage 3.