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Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology
of Eurasia

41 (2) 2013




Distal Phalanx of the Hand of Homo from Denisova Cave Stratum 12: A Tentative Description

M.B. Mednikova.

The article describes a distal phalanx of the left (?) hand of Homo, found in Denisova Cave in 2011. In terms of length, width of apical tuft, and relative fl attening, it resembles Neanderthal phalanges, differing in a somewhat greater transversal hypertrophy of the shaft. This trait may be regarded as archaic. A computed tomography-based comparison with the respective phalanx of the Sungir Upper Paleolithic male has demonstrated that their lengths and transverse section areas at midshaft are similar, whereas the structure of the Denisova specimen is quite different: its cortical layer is thick and its medullary cavity is narrow. A microfocus radiographic examination has revealed a large sclerotization zone in the upper part, a robust trabecular net, and traces of intense inner restructuring. This pattern distinguishes the Denisova specimen from phalanges of modern humans. The overall pattern is archaic, and certain characters are unique.

Keywords: Denisova Cave, hand, distal phalanges, archaic morphology, computed tomography, microfocus radiography.