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Possible further evidence of low genetic diversity in the El Sidrón (Asturias, Spain) Neandertal group: congenital clefts of the Atlas

AuthorsRíos, Luis; Rosas, Antonio ; Estalrrich, Almudena CSIC ORCID; García-Tabernero, Antonio CSIC ORCID; Bastir, Markus CSIC ORCID ; Huguet, Rosa CSIC ORCID; Pastor, Francisco; Sanchís-Gimerno, Juan Alberto; Rasilla, Marco de la
Issue Date29-Sep-2015
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 10(9): e0136550 (2015)
AbstractWe present here the first cases in Neandertals of congenital clefts of the arch of the atlas. Two atlases from El Sidrón, northern Spain, present respectively a defect of the posterior (frequency in extant modern human populations ranging from 0.73% to 3.84%), and anterior (frequency in extant modern human populations ranging from 0.087% to 0.1%) arch, a condition in most cases not associated with any clinical manifestation. The fact that two out of three observable atlases present a low frequency congenital condition, together with previously reported evidence of retained deciduous mandibular canine in two out of ten dentitions from El Sidrón, supports the previous observation based on genetic evidence that these Neandertals constituted a group with close genetic relations. Some have proposed for humans and other species that the presence of skeletal congenital conditions, although without clinical significance, could be used as a signal of endogamy or inbreeding. In the present case this interpretation would fit the general scenario of high incidence of rare conditions among Pleistocene humans and the specific scenariothat emerges from Neandertal paleogenetics, which points to long-term small and decreasing population size with reduced and isolated groups. Adverse environmental factors affecting early pregnancies would constitute an alternative, non-exclusive, explanation for a high incidence of congenital conditions. Further support or rejection of these interpretations will come from new genetic and skeletal evidence from Neandertal remains.
DescriptionReceived: June 12, 2015; Accepted: August 5, 2015; Published: September 29, 2015
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136550
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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