Studies of cranial differences between modern humans and Neandertals have identified several characteristics for which the two groups differ in their mean values, the proportional relationships with other traits, or both. However, the limited number of fairly complete Neandertals has hindered investigations into patterns of integration - covariance and correlation among traits - in this fossil group. Here, we use multiple approaches specifically designed to deal with fragmentary fossils to test if metric cranial traits in Neandertals fit modern human patterns of integration. Based on 37 traits collected from a sample of 2524 modern humans from Howells' data set and 20 Neandertals, we show that overall patterns of cranial integration are significantly different between Neandertals and modern humans. However, at the same time, Neandertals are consistent with a modern human pattern of integration for more than three-quarters of the traits. Additionally, the differences between the predicted and actual values for the deviating traits are rather small, indicating that the differences in integration are subtle. Traits for which Neandertals deviate from modern human integration patterns tend to be found in regions where Neandertals and modern humans are known to also differ in their mean values. We conclude that the evolution of patterns of cranial integration is a cause for caution but also presents an opportunity for understanding cranial differences between modern humans and Neandertals.
- Neandertal, modern human
- Phenotypic integration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics