UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Morphology and function of Neandertal and modern human ear ossicles.

Stoessel, A; David, R; Gunz, P; Schmidt, T; Spoor, F; Hublin, JJ; (2016) Morphology and function of Neandertal and modern human ear ossicles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 113 (41) pp. 11489-11494. 10.1073/pnas.1605881113. Green open access

[img]
Preview
Text
PNAS-2016-Stoessel-11489-94.pdf - Published version

Download (991kB) | Preview

Abstract

The diminutive middle ear ossicles (malleus, incus, stapes) housed in the tympanic cavity of the temporal bone play an important role in audition. The few known ossicles of Neandertals are distinctly different from those of anatomically modern humans (AMHs), despite the close relationship between both human species. Although not mutually exclusive, these differences may affect hearing capacity or could reflect covariation with the surrounding temporal bone. Until now, detailed comparisons were hampered by the small sample of Neandertal ossicles and the unavailability of methods combining analyses of ossicles with surrounding structures. Here, we present an analysis of the largest sample of Neandertal ossicles to date, including many previously unknown specimens, covering a wide geographic and temporal range. Microcomputed tomography scans and 3D geometric morphometrics were used to quantify shape and functional properties of the ossicles and the tympanic cavity and make comparisons with recent and extinct AMHs as well as African apes. We find striking morphological differences between ossicles of AMHs and Neandertals. Ossicles of both Neandertals and AMHs appear derived compared with the inferred ancestral morphology, albeit in different ways. Brain size increase evolved separately in AMHs and Neandertals, leading to differences in the tympanic cavity and, consequently, the shape and spatial configuration of the ossicles. Despite these different evolutionary trajectories, functional properties of the middle ear of AMHs and Neandertals are largely similar. The relevance of these functionally equivalent solutions is likely to conserve a similar auditory sensitivity level inherited from their last common ancestor.

Type: Article
Title: Morphology and function of Neandertal and modern human ear ossicles.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605881113
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605881113
Language: English
Additional information: Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.
Keywords: 3D shape, covariation, homo, middle ear
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1519960
Downloads since deposit
35Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item