Paleopathological evidence of the cranial remains from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain). Description and preliminary inferences


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Publication Date

August 1997


The large Sima de los Huesos sample provides for the first time the opportunity of performing a paleopathological study of a Middle Pleistocene population. A high frequency of bilateral temporomandibular arthropathy has been observed. We found an ear hyperostosis in Cranium 4, that probably caused deafness that we consider to be of infectious origin. Three osteomata were found in the cranial collection. One severe trauma was evident on the left supraorbital torus of an immature individual. Many cranial vault erosions, mostly restricted to the external table, are found in the sample. Cranium 5 displays thirteen of these. Cranium 5 also shows an extensive maxillary osteitis associated with a dental apical abscess, as well as another dental apical abscess in its mandible. Most of the adult frontal bones show a worm-like pattern of vascular channelling in the orbital roof, also found in modern populations.


Middle Pleistocene, Sima De Los Huesos, Fossil Hominids, Skulls, Paleopathology

Document Type



Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 33, no. 2-3 (1997-08-01).