A comparative high-resolution endostructural study reveal Neanderthal-like features in 450,000-year-old human dental remains from the Italian Peninsula

Fossil records enable a detailed reconstruction of our planet’s history and of the evolution of our species. In particular, teeth are a sort of biological archive that record in their structures (enamel, dentine and pulp chamber) the different phases of the human evolution.

 C. Zanolli et al., PLoS ONE, 13 (2018): e0189773

Human dental remains from Fontana Ranuccio (Latium) and Visogliano (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy have been characterized through a comparative high-resolution endostructural analysis based on microfocus X-ray microtomography (XmCT) scanning and detailed morphological analyses. The shape and arrangement of tooth tissues were examined and compared with teeth of other human species (see Figure). With an age of around 450,000 years before present, the analysed dental remains from the sites of Fontana Ranuccio and Visogliano are part of a very short list of fossil human remains from Middle Pleistocene Europe and are among the oldest human remains on the Italian Peninsula. XmCT data obtained through measurements performed at the TomoLab station of Elettra and at the Multidisciplinary Laboratory of the 'Abdus Salam' International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste (Italy), showed that the teeth of both sites share similarities with Neanderthals but they are distinct from modern humans.

These Neanderthal dental features had evolved by around 450,000 years ago. These remains represent among the oldest human fossil ones testifying to a peopling phase of the Italian Peninsula. The analyses of the tooth internal structural organization reveal a Neanderthal-like signature, also resembling the condition shown by the contemporary assemblage from Atapuerca Sima de los Huesos, indicating that an overall Neanderthal morphological dental template was preconfigured in Western Europe at least 430 to 450 ka ago. These teeth also add to a growing picture of a period of complex human evolution that we are only beginning to understand.

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The Middle Pleistocene (MIS 12) human dental remains from Fontana Ranuccio (Latium) and Visogliano (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy. A comparative high resolution endostructural assessment., C. Zanolli, M. Martinón-Torres, F. Bernardini, G. Boschian, A. Coppa, D. Dreossi, L. Mancini, M. Martínez de Pinillos, L. Martín-Francés, J.M. Bermúdez de Castro, C. Tozzi, C. Tuniz, R. Macchiarelli, PLoS ONE, 13 (2018): e0189773, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189773.



Last Updated on Thursday, 29 November 2018 11:18