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Keywords:

  • developmental abnormalities;
  • tarsal bones;
  • accessory bones;
  • non-osseous coalitions;
  • Late Neolithic;
  • collective burial;
  • Portugal

Abstract

The study of developmental abnormalities of the tarsal bones in a Portuguese Late Neolithic population was performed, as part of an ongoing research project that includes the evaluation of foot defects in Portuguese skeletal populations from Neolithic times to modern 20th century samples. Two accessory bones were found, calcaneum secundarium and os trigonum, and three non-osseous coalitions were detected, calcaneonavicular, cuboid-navicular and third metatarsal-third cuneiform. The newly presented frequencies corresponded to other published sources, except for the frequency of calcaneum secundarium, higher than in previous studies (8.6% left bones; 15.2% right bones). This result suggests population homogeneity maybe due to geographic isolation and/or marriage customs although the exact pattern of inheritance of the majority of these foot anomalies is unknown. No apparent sex bias was detected and side could not be tested since these human remains were uncovered from a commingled funerary context. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.