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Brief communication: A morphometric analysis of the neandertal upper second molar leuca I


Correspondence to: Stefano Benazzi, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig 04103, Germany. E-mail:


The scarcity of Neandertal remains from Southern Europe hampers our understanding of Neandertal variability, and can bias interpretations about Neandertal geographic variation. To address this issue, it is often important to reassess human remains that, while discovered decades ago, remain relatively unknown to the scientific community. In this contribution, we provide a complete state-of-the-art comparative morphometric analysis of Leuca I, an unworn left second upper molar (LM2) discovered in 1958 in Bambino's Cave (near Santa Maria di Leuca, Apulia, Italy) and attributed to Homo neanderthalensis. Our study includes comparisons of standard metric and nonmetric data, a 2D image analysis of the occlusal surface and measurements of both 2D and 3D enamel thickness and dental tissue proportions. Although Leuca I follows the Neandertal M2s trend in some morphometric aspects (i.e., small relative occlusal polygon area), in other cases it falls to the higher end (for 3D average enamel thickness) or even outside (for 3D-relative enamel thickness) the Neandertal M2 variability, thus increasing the known Neandertal range of variation. Am J Phys Anthropol 152:300–305, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.