Small-bodied humans from Palau, Micronesia.

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2008-03-12

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Abstract

UNLABELLED: Newly discovered fossil assemblages of small bodied Homo sapiens from Palau, Micronesia possess characters thought to be taxonomically primitive for the genus Homo. BACKGROUND: Recent surface collection and test excavation in limestone caves in the rock islands of Palau, Micronesia, has produced a sizeable sample of human skeletal remains dating roughly between 940-2890 cal ybp. PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: Preliminary analysis indicates that this material is important for two reasons. First, individuals from the older time horizons are small in body size even relative to "pygmoid" populations from Southeast Asia and Indonesia, and thus may represent a marked case of human insular dwarfism. Second, while possessing a number of derived features that align them with Homo sapiens, the human remains from Palau also exhibit several skeletal traits that are considered to be primitive for the genus Homo. SIGNIFICANCE: These features may be previously unrecognized developmental correlates of small body size and, if so, they may have important implications for interpreting the taxonomic affinities of fossil specimens of Homo.

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10.1371/journal.pone.0001780

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Berger, Lee R, Steven E Churchill, Bonita De Klerk and Rhonda L Quinn (2008). Small-bodied humans from Palau, Micronesia. PLoS One, 3(3). p. e1780. 10.1371/journal.pone.0001780 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/4484.

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Scholars@Duke

Churchill

Steven E. Churchill

Professor in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

I am a human paleontologist studying morphological and behavioral adaptation in the genus Homo. Through comparative functional-morphological analysis of human fossil remains, coupled with investigation of the archeological record of prehistoric human behavior, my students and I conduct research in the following inter-related areas:

1) The ecology, energetics and adaptive strategies of premodern members of the genus Homo (especially the Neandertals [Homo neanderthalensis] of Europe and western Asia and Middle Pleistocene archaic humans of Africa [variously attributed to H. heidelbergensis, H. rhodesiensis or H. helmei] ) and early members of our own species [H. sapiens] in Africa, the Near East and Europe.

2) Adaptive evolution during the emergence of the genus Homo, focusing on the functional morphology of Australopithecus sediba, H. naledi, and H. erectus.

3) The evolution of human subsistence strategies across the Middle and Late Pleistocene, with an emphasis on the nature of the hunting methods employed by various groups.

4) The evolution of subsistence technology, especially the origins of true long-range projectile weaponry.

5) The community ecology of humans and large-bodied carnivores in Pleistocene Europe and Africa.


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