Department of Geoscience

WS 2010/2011


Dr. Heike Scherf: Humeral cancellous bone - Architectonic differences between great apes, humans, and Neanderthals


The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the primate body and involved in locomotor and manipulative activities. Observations of habitual activities and the specific musculature enable us to understand the complex biomechanic interactions between a specific action, muscle recruitment and bone structure in extant species. The interpretation of the bone structure regarding specific activities of the upper extremities in fossil species, like Neanderthals, is very difficult because of the complex loading conditions of the shoulder joint and absent information about the musculature. The functionally adapting cancellous bone of the humerus is like an archive, which conserves information about the most prominent activities, and therefore offers information about Neanderthal habitual life. To decipher this information for the first time, I analyzed and compared high resolution three-dimensional CT data of the humeral cancellous bone of extant great apes with different shoulder loadings, extant humans, and Neanderthals. Differences in the trabecular architectures of the different species were not definitely definable by visual inspection. However, I was able to discriminate the different species by principle component analysis of 3D-morphometry results. I will discuss these results and their implications on the interpretation of Neanderthal activity.


Dr. Carlos Arredondo Antúnez (Profesor e Investigador Auxiliar, Grupo de Antropología, Museo Antropológico Montané, Facultad de Biología, Univ. de La Habana) "Canimar Abajo: The oldest arqueological site of Cuba"


Dr. Kornelius Kupcik (MPI Leipzig): Dental root morphology in Late Homo: taxonomic, functional and developmental implications


The teeth are one of the most informative sources in palaeoanthropological research because variations in dental morphology reveal differences in diet, life history and taxonomic status among fossil hominin species. The Neanderthals have a distinctive suite of craniofacial and dental features including large anterior teeth and molars with enlarged pulp cavities as well as faster dental maturation that distinguish them from modern humans. Here I present a study that extends current knowledge on dental variability to yet unexplored internal and external features of the teeth in late Homo species using microtomographic imaging. I will show how tooth root morphology can be used to distinguish between Neanderthals and other recent and fossil Homo. Moreover, I will discuss the implications of these findings for
the interpretation of growth and developmental patterns as well as tooth use and diet among these species and present future perspectives for studying dental functional morphology in fossil hominins.


Dr. Susanne Münzel "New results on the palaeobiology of bears in the Swabian Jura - genetic replacement, ecological displacement, extinctions and survival"


Hannes Napierala