UNM Professor Osbjorn Pearson on Team Studying Neandertal Remains

Departmental News

Posted:  Jul 31, 2020 - 11:00am

Dr. Osbjorn Pearson is part of a team studying Neandertal remains.  His article,  A Partial Neandertal Foot From the Late Middle Paleolithic of Amud Cave, Israel,  was recently published in PaleoAnthropology and featured by UNM News


Excavations of Amud Cave in 1991–1994 yielded 14 hominin skeletal specimens (Amud 5-19) in addition to those recovered in the 1960s. Amud 9 is a partial right distal leg and foot that preserves portions of the distal tibia, talus, first metatarsal, first proximal phalanx, and a middle and distal phalanx of digit II-IV. The bones are fairly small and likely belonged to a female. The talus features a strongly projecting fibular articular facet in common with Neandertals and many tali from Sima de los Huesos. Discriminant analysis of the talus shows that its nearest match lies among tali from Sima de los Huesos, a result primarily attributable to its moderately enlarged posterior trochlear articular breadth. The first metatarsal falls among Neandertals in discriminant space. The pedal phalan-ges are short and broad, in common with other Neandertals. The length of the first metatarsal and talus predict a female’s stature of 160–166cm and the width of the talar trochlea predicts a body mass of 59.9kg. The bones were found within anthropogenic deposits dated date to 55 ka, very close in time to the proposed main pulse of Neandertal interbreeding, as inferred from living people’s DNA, and slightly before the first appearance of Upper Paleolithic industries.