Body size and postcranial robusticity of European Upper Paleolithic hominins.

Holliday TW.

Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118, USA. thollid@tulane.edu

The robust diaphyses of Pleistocene hominins are said to indicate higher activity levels in these prehistoric humans than among people today. Thus, it could be argued that the prediction of body mass from fossil lower limb diaphyseal cortical area (CA) using recent human regressions might lead to erroneously high body mass estimates. This study uses three body mass prediction formulae based on the following features: reconstructed femoral 80% (subtrochanteric) CA, femoral head diameter (FH), and bi-iliac breadth and stature (BIB-St) among European Early and Late Upper Paleolithic (EUP and LUP) and recent humans from Africa and Europe.

All three methods produce similar body mass estimates for all groups studied, including recent humans.Gleaning behavioral differences from these data is more difficult, as no significant differences in CA were found among the fossil and recent Europeans. It has been suggested that the EUP had less robust diaphyses than their LUP counterparts. However, here this result is only obtained when CA is size-standardized to femoral length(3) (Ruff et al., 1993, Am. J. phys. Anthrop.91, 21-53 Trinkaus et al., 1998, in Neandertals and Modern Humans in Western Asia, pp.391-404, New York: Plenum).

This should not be interpreted as evidence for lower activity levels in the EUP, but rather as an artefact of standardization, for as Wolpoff (1999), Am. J. phys. Anthrop.109, 416-423 points out, these standardized variables are extremely sensitive to limb length differences, and the EUP have longer limbs than their LUP counterparts. With this in mind, these data do not support a pattern of behavioral differences between EUP and LUP humans, and therefore more sensitive measures than CA may be required to detect such differences.