Human dento-gnathic metric variation in mesolithic/neolithic Ukraine: Possible evidence of demic diffusion in the Dnieper Rapids region



Dental and gnathic metrics from a series of Mesolithic and Neolithic cemetery samples in the Dnieper River valley (Ukraine) are compared. Both male and female Neolithic samples have larger dental dimensions, wider dental arcades, and a more robust mandibular corpus than do the Mesolithic samples. In addition, the relative variances (RVs) of bucco-lingual dental breadths (as measured by modified Levene's Tests) show an intriguing pattern of change from the Mesolithic into and through the Neolithic. Female RVs show a clear tenency to increase through time, while male RVs show more mixed tendencies. Such a pattern indicates that the increases in Ukrainian Neolithic dento-gnathic dimensions are plausibly attributable to low intensity gene flow (demic diffusion). Seen in the light of new chronometric, paleodietary, and paleolinguistic information, as well as in the context of recent archaeological models for agro-pastoralist origins in the North Pontic, these data suggest that gene flow via population interactions originating in or transient through the circum-Caucasus may have played an important role in producing the Ukrainian Neolithic dental increase. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.