• Neandertal;
  • Obstetrics;
  • Pelvis;
  • Sexual dimorphism


Sexual dimorphism of the human pelvis is inferentially related to obstetrics. However, researchers disagree in the identification and obstetric significance of pelvic dimorphisms. This study addresses three issues. First, common patterns in dimorphism are identified by analysis of pelvimetrics from six independent samples (Whites and Blacks of known sex and four Amerindian samples of unknown sex). Second, an hypothesis is tested that the index of pelvic dimorphism (female mean × 100/male mean) is inversely related to pelvic variability. Third, the pelvic dimensions of the Neandertal male from Kebara cave, Israel are compared with those of the males in this study.

The results show that the pelvic inlet is the plane of least dimorphism in humans. The reason that reports often differ in the identification of dimorphisms for this pelvic plane is that both the length of the pubis and the shape of the inlet are related to nutrition. The dimensions of the pelvis that are most dimorphic (that is, female larger than male) are the measures of posterior space, angulation of sacrum, biischial breadth, and subpubic angle. Interestingly, these dimensions are also the most variable. The hypothesis that variability and dimorphism are inversely related fails to be supported. The factors that influence pelvic variability are discussed.

The Kebara 2 pelvis has a spacious inlet and a confined outlet relative to modern males, though the circumferences of both planes in the Neandertal are within the range of variation of modern males. The inference is that outlet circumference in Neandertal females is also small in size, but within the range of variation of modern females. Arguments that Neandertal newborns were larger in size than those of modern humans necessarily imply that birth was more difficult in Neandertals. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.