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Institut für Evolutionäre Anthropologie (IEA) Computer-Assisted Paleoanthropology

Lagar Velho child

Computerized reconstruction and geometric-morphometric analysis of the Lagar Velho child skeleton

The early upper paleolithic (Gravettian) burial site of Lagar Velho (near Lapedo, Portugal) yielded a well-preserved child skeleton, whose possible skeletal affinites with Neanderthals are the subject of a controversial scientific debate. The reconstruction and detailed comparative analysis of the burial context and the child’s morphology are important prerequisites for further studies regarding the physical and cultural status of this individual. Research on the Lagar Velho child is carried out by an international and interdisciplinaryresearch team (Instituto Português de Arqueologia; Washington University, St. Louis; University of Zurich, and others). During computer-assisted reconstruction of the skull the severely fragmented and dispersed cranial remains were assembled, and plastic deformation caused by taphonomic compression of the cranial vault was corrected. Taking into account several reconstruction variants, a comparative geometric-morphometric analysis of the Lagar Velho cranium clusters this individual with modern human children of age 3 to 4 and does not reveal Neanderthal affinities. This project is supported by the L.S.B. Leakey foundation.

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