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The Sunghir 3 Upper Paleolithic Juvenile: Pathology versus Persistence in the Paleolithic



The Mid Upper Paleolithic Sunghir 3 late juvenile early modern human, from the most elaborate burial in the Pleistocene, had pathologically foreshortened and anteriorly bowed femora and, based on her dental enamel hypoplasias and transverse lines, sustained severe and persistent systemic stress throughout her decade of life. Her modest femoral and tibial asymmetry and her femoral bicondylar angles indicate non-pathological patterns of posture and locomotion. The levels of rigidity for her weight-bearing tibiae and the non-dominant left arm reflect normal weight-bearing and manipulation. These indicators are combined with an elevated level of right humeral strength, leading to pronounced humeral diaphyseal asymmetry, combined with elevated muscular insertion asymmetry. In combination with marked upper limb muscle markings and normal levels of bone formation, these reflections of her robustness indicate that she was fully mobile and participated actively in the tasks of her social group. There is no indication of the skeletal hypotrophy/atrophy that would be associated with less than full participation in the mobility and subsistence of her social group. As such, Sunghir 3 joins a growing list of developmentally or degeneratively pathological Late Pleistocene humans who nonetheless remained mobile and active. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.