Tag Archives: Cro Magnons

Reconstruction of an early European skull


By Dr Richard Neave. I believe (though I can’t find anything saying this specifically) this is the Peştera cu Oase 2   crania from Romania (edit: John Hawkes also says it this one), which is 40,000 years old and was found by potholers. I can’t find any other crania of this age or date from Romania, so by a process of elimination this would be it. They don’t know if the skull is male or female.

Peştera cu Oase 2 crania.

First of all let me comment my objection to this recon is entirely to do with the really dark skin colour of the head. My main point is that even Southern Africans have a skin colour a lot lighter than this. Modern humans were also resident across North Africa from about 130k ago, and into the near East from about 100k ago- 60k prior to the entry into Europe, so the reason behind the UV-resistant equatorial skin tone escapes me as that area (equator) was left behind about 90k prior to entering Europe. The Khoisan people in the area believed to be where humans evolved are much lighter. I’m also a little unsure as to why he made the nose quite so flared, as the shape seems half way betwen European and African. But then, I have seen some Irish guys with nostrils like that.

Also needing to be taken into consideration is that the European hair colour mutations for fair/brown and red hair date back to over 80k, and that the red hair genes at least  will have had a lightening affect on skin tone. Lighter eye colours also lighten skin colour, and although blue is recent and fairly limited in distribution, other eye colours are much older and wider distributed, even as far as the Ainu and the Hmong.

On the other hand; it has the brow ridges, heavy jaw and wider nose you typical of more archaic samples, as seen in this 26,000 year old ivory head from Europe. The average prognathism in the Paleolithic samples is greater than in modern populations, and probably has a lot to do with the much larger teeth humans had prior to the Neolithic farming revolution.

Judging from the scant art objects the Europeans had straight hair. So.. give him hazel brown eyes and dark brown hair and a lighter Khoisan-ish skin tone and you’d probably be close to an accurate reconstruction of the face.


Cro Magnon DNA from Paglicci

So, I was looking for the source of the reputed ‘other DNA’ sequenced from Cro Magnons, and I found this pdf…

Evidence for a genetic discontinuity between Neandertals and 24,000-year-old anatomically modern Europeans

David Caramelli†, Carles Lalueza-Fox‡, Cristiano Vernesi§, Martina Lari†, Antonella Casoli¶, Francesco Mallegni, Brunetto Chiarelli†, Isabelle Dupanloup§, Jaume Bertranpetit††, Guido Barbujani§, and Giorgio Bertorelle§‡‡  2003)

During the late Pleistocene, early anatomically modern humans coexisted in Europe with the anatomically archaic Neandertals for some thousand years. Under the recent variants of the multiregional model of human evolution, modern and archaic forms were different but related populations within a single evolving species, and both have contributed to the gene pool of current humans. Conversely, the Out-of-Africa model considers the transition between Neandertals and anatomically modern humans as the result of a demographic replacement, and hence it predicts a genetic discontinuity between them. Following the most stringent current standards for validation of ancient DNA sequences, we typed the mtDNA hypervariable region I of two anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens individuals of the Cro-Magnon type dated at about 23 and 25 thousand years ago. Here we show that the mtDNAs of these individuals fall well within the range of variation of today’s humans, but differ sharply from the available sequences of the chronologically closer Neandertals. This discontinuity is difficult to reconcile with the hypothesis that both Neandertals and early anatomically modern humans contributed to the current European gene pool.

The result is that the mt DNA was N(*) and (pre) HV for these samples. The other sample from Paglicci was H, the most common European haplogroup.

Variability of the Upper Palaeolithic skulls from Předmostí

Variability of the Upper Palaeolithic skulls from Předmostí near Přerov (Czech Republic): Craniometric comparison with recent human standards

J. Velemínskáa, , , J. Brůžekb, c, P. Velemínskýd, L. Bigonia, A. Šefčákováe and S. Katinaf

One of the largest skeletal series of the Upper Palaeolithic period from Předmostí was destroyed during the Second World War, but the study of this material continues up to the present. The discovery of Matiegka’s original photographic documentation on glass plates [Velemínská et al., 2004. The use of recently re-discovered glass plate photo-documentation of those human fossil finds from Předmostí u Přerova destroyed during World War II. J. Nat. Mus. Nat. Hist. Ser. 173, 129–132] gives an opportunity to perform a new and detailed craniometric analysis of five adult skulls in their lateral projection.

The craniometric data were analysed using specialised Craniometrics software, and the analysis included morphological and dimensional comparisons with current Central European norms. The aim of the study was not only to monitor the skull shape as a whole, but predominantly, to evaluate the size and shape of various parts of the splanchnocranium.

The Upper Palaeolithic skulls are significantly longer, and male skulls are also higher than the current norms. The crania of anatomically modern humans are characterised by two general structural features: mid-lower facial retraction and neurocranial globularity. The height of the face of the Palaeolithic skulls corresponds to that of the current Central European population. The face has a markedly longer mandibular body (3–4 SD), while female mandibular rami are shorter. The skulls are further characterised by a smaller gonial angle, the increased steepness of the mandibular ramus, and the greater angle of the chin. These changes in the size and shape associated with anterior rotation of the face produce a strong protrusion of both jaws, but the sagittal inter-maxillary relationships remain unchanged. The observed facial morphology is similar to the Czech Upper Palaeolithic skulls from Dolní Věstonice.

This study confirms the main diachronic changes between skulls of Upper Palaeolithic and present-day human populations.

It seems the ancient Europeans had big strong jaws. I have an example of one of the skulls here…

26,000 year old face carved in mammoth ivory.

From Dolni Vestonice, site of many fine paleolithic finds. It’s thought to be a female face.

Ancient carved ivory portrait of a Cro Magnon man.

From Brno in Chzechoslovakis, found 1891.

This carved head in ivory is dated to about 26,000 years old. It seems to depict a man with very heavy brows, long straight hair. it’s thought that he may have been the top of a staff, with his long hair curled around it.

A link to more detailed information is here.

The earliest modern European skulls.

Peştera cu Oase 2 and the cranial morphology of early modern Europeans

Between 2003 and 2005, the Peştera cu Oase, Romania yielded a largely complete early modern human cranium, Oase 2, scattered on the surface of a Late Pleistocene hydraulically displaced bone bed containing principally the remains of Ursus spelaeus. Multiple lines of evidence indicate an age of ≈40.5 thousand calendar years before the present (≈35 ka 14C B.P.). Morphological comparison of the adolescent Oase 2 cranium to relevant Late Pleistocene human samples documents a suite of derived modern human and/or non-Neandertal features, including absence of a supraorbital torus, subrectangular orbits, prominent canine fossae, narrow nasal aperture, level nasal floor, angled and anteriorly oriented zygomatic bones, a high neurocranium with prominent parietal bosses and marked sagittal parietal curvature, superiorly positioned temporal zygomatic root, vertical auditory porous, laterally bulbous mastoid processes, superiorly positioned posterior semicircular canal, absence of a nuchal torus and a suprainiac fossa, and a small occipital bun. However, these features are associated with an exceptionally flat frontal arc, a moderately large juxtamastoid eminence, extremely large molars that become progressively larger distally, complex occlusal morphology of the upper third molar, and relatively anteriorly positioned zygomatic arches. Moreover, the featureless occipital region and small mastoid process are at variance with the large facial skeleton and dentition. This unusual mosaic in Oase 2, some of which is paralleled in the Oase 1 mandible, indicates both complex population dynamics as modern humans dispersed into Europe and significant ongoing human evolution once modern humans were established within Europe.

28,000 years Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA from Italy

A 28,000 Years Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA Sequence Differs from All Potentially Contaminating Modern Sequences

Bone splinters (tibia and skull) provided the DNA.

DNA sequences from ancient speciments may in fact result from undetected contamination of the ancient specimens by modern DNA, and the problem is particularly challenging in studies of human fossils. Doubts on the authenticity of the available sequences have so far hampered genetic comparisons between anatomically archaic (Neandertal) and early modern (Cro-Magnoid) Europeans.

Methodology/Principal Findings
We typed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable region I in a 28,000 years old Cro-Magnoid individual from the Paglicci cave, in Italy (Paglicci 23) and in all the people who had contact with the sample since its discovery in 2003. The Paglicci 23 sequence, determined through the analysis of 152 clones, is the Cambridge reference sequence, and cannot possibly reflect contamination because it differs from all potentially contaminating modern sequences.

The Paglicci 23 individual carried a mtDNA sequence that is still common in Europe, and which radically differs from those of the almost contemporary Neandertals, demonstrating a genealogical continuity across 28,000 years, from Cro-Magnoid to modern Europeans. Because all potential sources of modern DNA contamination are known, the Paglicci 23 sample will offer a unique opportunity to get insight for the first time into the nuclear genes of early modern Europeans

Genetic relationships among the Paglicci 23 and other relevant mtDNA sequences.

The network summarizes mtDNA HVR I variation in 13 Neandertals (Nea1 to Nea13) , three Cro-Magnons (CrM1 to CrM3), and seven modern humans who manipulated the Cro-Magnons specimens (six authors of this paper and Carles Laueza-Fox, designated by their initials).

So, according to this; they were lucky that none of the people that handled the bones had the same mtDNA type as the Cro Magnon man, and that it was significantly different to the Neanderthal DNA that’s been sequenced, but within the normal range for Europeans. A name for the haplotype would have been nice!