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Neandertal talus bones from El Sidrón site (Asturias, Spain): A 3D geometric morphometrics analysis

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American Journal of Physical Anthropology

Published online on


Objectives The El Sidrón tali sample is assessed in an evolutionary framework. We aim to explore the relationship between Neandertal talus morphology and body size/shape. We test the hypothesis 1: talar Neandertal traits are influenced by body size, and the hypothesis 2: shape variables independent of body size correspond to inherited primitive features. Materials and methods We quantify 35 landmarks through 3D geometric morphometrics techniques to describe H. neanderthalensis‐H. sapiens shape variation, by Mean Shape Comparisons, Principal Component, Phenetic Clusters, Minimum spanning tree analyses and partial least square and regression of talus shape on body variables. Shape variation correlated to body size is compared to Neandertals‐Modern Humans (MH) evolutionary shape variation. The Neandertal sample is compared to early hominins. Results Neandertal talus presents trochlear hypertrophy, a larger equality of trochlear rims, a shorter neck, a more expanded head, curvature and an anterior location of the medial malleolar facet, an expanded and projected lateral malleolar facet and laterally expanded posterior calcaneal facet compared to MH. Discussion The Neandertal talocrural joint morphology is influenced by body size. The other Neandertal talus traits do not co‐vary with it or not follow the same co‐variation pattern as MH. Besides, the trochlear hypertrophy, the trochlear rims equality and the short neck could be inherited primitive features; the medial malleolar facet morphology could be an inherited primitive feature or a secondarily primitive trait; and the calcaneal posterior facet would be an autapomorphic feature of the Neandertal lineage.