European Journal of Anatomy

Official Journal of The Spanish Society of Anatomy
Cover Volume 23 - Number 3
Eur J Anat, 23 (3): 187-199 (2019)

Restudying variations of axial skeleton patterning in Eskimo groups with new data from ancient Chukotka (Ekven archaeological site)

Marina K. Karapetian1, Sergey V. Makarov2

1Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, 2Research Centre for Medical Genetics, Moscow, Russia

ABSTRACT This study continues a series of studies by Stewart and Merbs on vertebral column variations in Eskimo groups. The focus is on so called cranio-caudal shifts in spine patterning. The study is performed on a skeletal sample of ancient Eskimos from Siberia (Ekven site, Chukotka) and comparative samples representing population groups of European and African ancestry. In addition to these, literature data are used for comparative analysis to assess the pattern of cranio-caudal border shifts on intra-specific level. The result confirms the presence of significantly increased predisposition of the Eskimos to caudal shifts in spine patterning, expressed both as increased frequencies of complete caudal shifts of thoraco-lumbar and lumbo-sacral borders, as well as minor variations in vertebrae morphology, including variation in the type of articular processes (thoracic/lumbar types) and the position of costo-central articulation at T9 level. Hypotheses explaining this specific character of the Eskimo/Inuit groups are proposed and explored, including gene drift, influence of environmental factors and association with morphological characteristics adaptive to survival in the Arctic. One of the explanations may be the association with characteristic form and size of the thoracic cage that distinguishes the Arctic groups such as Eskimos and Chukchi from groups leaving in more southern areas. This needs to be tested on other groups, living in similar conditions.

Keywords: Human vertebra morphology Cranio-caudal shifts Homeotic transformations Siberia Adaptation to Arctic

European Journal of anatomy
ISSN 2340-311X (Online)