Assistant Professor Kurt Rademaker publishes in PaleoAmerica on Early Holocene human skull from Cuncaicha, Peru

Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor Dr. Kurt Rademaker and colleagues Dr. Lumila Paula Menéndez and Dr. Katerina Harvati recently published an article in the journal PaleoAmerica entitled, “Revisiting East-West Skull Patterns and the Role of Random Factors in South America: Cranial Reconstruction and Morphometric Analysis of the Facial Skeleton from Cuncaicha Rockshelter (Southern Peru).” The article discusses the affinity of a human skull uncovered from Cuncaicha Rockshelter with other Holocene South American specimens, and the implications of these findings regarding migratory pathways.

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Abstract: “The aim of this paper is to evaluate the craniometric affinities of the only Cuncaicha cranial specimen with other early, middle, and late Holocene South American samples. To do so, the skull was first reconstructed by using computer-aided techniques applied to several μ-CTscanned fragments. Linear measurements were calculated in the facial skeleton and compared to specimens from a previously available database. We conducted Principal Component and Discriminant Analysis, calculated Mahalanobis distances to evaluate the similarities of the Cuncaicha specimen with early/middle Holocene samples from South America, and estimated a Δ statistic for testing the neutral hypothesis among Peruvian samples. The results show that Cuncaicha presents shape similarities with Lagoa Santa and Lauricocha, mostly in masticatory and respiratory components. Finally, directional selection explains most of the diversification of Peruvian populations. We discuss our results in the context of migratory pathways, as well as the evolutionary processes behind human diversification in the Americas.”