Respiratory adaptation to climate in modern humans and Upper Palaeolithic individuals from Sungir and Mladeč

Ekaterina Stansfield (Corresponding author), Philipp Mitteroecker, Sergei Y. Vasilyev, Lauren N. Butaric, Sergey Vasilyev

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed

Abstract

As our human ancestors migrated into Eurasia, they faced a considerably harsher climate, but the extent to which human cranial morphology has adapted to this climate is still debated. In particular, it remains unclear when such facial adaptations arose in human populations. Here, we explore climate-associated features of face shape in a worldwide modern human sample using 3D geometric morphometrics and a novel application of reduced rank regression. Based on these data, we assess climate adaptations in two crucial Upper Palaeolithic human fossils, Sungir and Mladeč, associated with a boreal-to-temperate climate. We found several aspects of facial shape, especially the relative dimensions of the external nose, internal nose and maxillary sinuses, that are strongly associated with temperature and humidity, even after accounting for autocorrelation due to geographical proximity of populations. For these features, both fossils revealed adaptations to a dry environment, with Sungir being strongly associated with cold temperatures and Mladeč with warm-to-hot temperatures. These results suggest relatively quick adaptative rates of facial morphology in Upper Palaeolithic Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7997
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 106018 Human biology

Keywords

  • climatic adaptation
  • human evolution
  • Upper Paleolithic Hominins
  • mid-facial morphology
  • respiratory adaptation
  • DISTANCE
  • POPULATION HISTORY
  • FORM
  • MIDFACIAL MORPHOLOGY
  • SUB-SAHARAN
  • EUROPE
  • MAXILLARY SINUS
  • NEANDERTHALS
  • NASAL CAVITY
  • SELECTION

Cite this