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Définition du taxon Homo heidelbergensis Schoetensack, 1908 : analyse phénétique du massif facial supérieur des fossiles du genre Homo du Pléistocène moyen

  • A. MounierEmail author
Article / Article

Résumé

La découverte de nouveaux fossiles au Pléistocène moyen a entraîné la reconsidération de l’espèce Homo heidelbergensis. La morphologie particulière de la mandibule de Mauer (holotype) et l’inclusion de nombreux fossiles ne présentant pas de mandibule dans le taxon ne permettent pas l’émergence d’un consensus. L’espèce est considérée comme un taxon afro-européen ancêtre des Homo sapiens et des H. neanderthalensis ou comme un taxon européen ancêtre des Néandertaliens. La validité de l’espèce est souvent contestée, et la diagnose de 1908 ne permet pas l’attribution de nouveaux spécimens au taxon. Nous testons la validité d’H. heidelbergensis grâce à une approche phénétique menée sur le massif facial supérieur de 27 fossiles et 94 Hommes de l’Holocène. Trente-trois caractères morphologiques codés sont analysés pour obtenir des groupes de spécimens et quantifier leur description par des caractères morphologiques statistiquement significatifs. Les résultats soutiennent l’existence d’une espèce valide, distincte des autres taxons du genre Homo et définie par une liste de caractères sur le massif facial supérieur. Ce taxon inclut des fossiles africains et européens du Pléistocène moyen et pourrait représenter l’espèce ancestrale d’H. neanderthalensis et d’H. sapiens. La mandibule de Mauer peut être intégrée à l’hypodigme de ce taxon, H. heidelbergensis est donc le nomen approprié pour le désigner. Nous proposons une liste de traits morphologiques diagnostiques sur le massif facial supérieur.

Mots clés

Pléistocène moyen Homo heidelbergensis Phénétique Morphologie Massif facial supérieur 

Definition of the taxon Homo heidelbergensis Schoetensack, 1908: phenetic analysis of the upper face of Middle Pleistocene Homo specimens

Abstract

The recognition that greater diversity exists in the Middle Pleistocene fossil record than previously thought has led to a reconsideration of the species Homo heidelbergensis. Because of the particular morphology of the Mauer mandible (holotype) and the fact that so many fossils without mandibles have been placed in the taxon, it has not been possible to arrive at a consensus. The species is considered either as an Afro-European taxon which is ancestral to H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis, or as a European species ancestral to Neanderthals. The validity of the taxon has often been questioned and the 1908 diagnosis of H. heidelbergensis cannot be used to add new fossils to the hypodigm. We offer a test of the validity of the taxon H. heidelbergensis using a phenetic approach applied to the upper face of 27 Pleistocene fossils and 94 extant Humans. Thirty-three coded morphological traits were analysed in order to group the specimens and describe the groups through statistically significant morphological traits. Our results support the existence of a valid taxon which is distinct from other Homo species and can be defined through a list of morphological traits. African and European fossils from the Middle Pleistocene can be allocated to the taxon, which may be seen as an Afro-European species ancestral to H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens. The Mauer mandible is part of the hypodigm of the taxon. The name H. heidelbergensis is therefore suitable to designate the species. Finally, we propose a list of diagnostic morphological traits from the upper face.

Keywords

Middle Pleistocene Homo heidelbergensis Phonetic Morphology Upper face 

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Copyright information

© Société d'anthropologie de Paris et Springer-Verlag France 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté de Médecine / Secteur NordUMR 6578 - Unité d’Anthropologie Bioculturelle, CNRS / Université de la Méditerranée / EFSMarseille cedex 15France

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