Skeletal growth in early and late Neolithic foragers from the Cis-Baikal region of Eastern Siberia



Skeletal growth is explored between Early Neolithic (EN) (8000 to 6800 BP) and Late Neolithic (LN) (6000 to 5200 BP) foragers from the Cis-Baikal region of Eastern Siberia. Previous studies suggest that increased systemic stress and smaller adult body size characterize the EN compared to LN. On this basis, greater evidence for stunting and wasting is expected in the EN compared to LN. Skeletal growth parameters assessed here include femoral and tibial lengths, estimated stature and body mass, femoral midshaft cortical thickness, total bone thickness, and medullary width. Forward selection was used to fit polynomial lines to each skeletal growth parameter relative to dental age in the pooled samples, and standardized residuals were compared between groups using t tests. Standardized residuals of body mass and femoral length were significantly lower in the EN compared to LN sample, particularly from late infancy through early adolescence. However, no significant differences in the standardized residuals for cortical thickness, medullary width, total bone thickness, tibial length, or stature were found between the groups. Age ranges for stunting in femoral length and wasting in body mass are consistent with environmental perturbations experienced at the cessation of breast feeding and general resource insecurity in the EN compared to LN sample. Differences in relative femoral but not tibial length may be associated with age-specific variation in growth-acceleration for the distal and proximal limb segments. Similarity in cortical bone growth between the two samples may reflect the combined influences of systemic and mechanical factors on this parameter. Am J Phys Anthropol 153:377–386, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.