L’uomo di Altamura, vent’anni dopo: nuove ricerche sullo scheletro della grotta di Lamalunga (Altamura, Bari)


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Preistoria e Protostoria della Puglia – Studi di Preistoria e Protostoria 4

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The “aLtaMura Man”, twentY Years Later. new researches on the skeLeton FroM the LaMaLunGa caVe (aLtaMura, itaLY) - the human skeleton from Lamalunga (altamura, bari) represents a keystone fossil specimen for our comprehension of human evolution in europe during the Pleistocene. the exceptional conditions of preservation (representing a unique case-study of its kind) offer the rare opportunity to add precious information on the morphology and genetics of the neanderthal lineage, as well as on the paleo-ecological and evolutionary dynamics occurred among human populations in the italian peninsula. it is also of great interest that the skeleton from altamura shows a peculiar combination of both derived (neanderthal) and more archaic features. although neanderthal traits predominate, in fact, other characters appear more plesiomorphic, particularly in the cranium. the recovery in 2009 of the articular portion of the right scapula in conditions of absolute sterility preventing any exogenous contamination, together with other se- lected samples of calcite, allowed to reach the following results: a) the first absolute dating of the skeleton; b) the first quantitative analysis of a single anatomic district; c) an equally unprecedented paleogenetic characterization of the Lamalunga skeleton. overall, these results concurred in indicating that the Lamalunga skeleton belongs to the hypodigm of Homo neanderthalensis, with some significant phenetic peculiarities. this conclusion appear consistent with a chronology that suggest a time window close to the end of the Middle Pleistocene

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