Louis Shirley

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Smith, Fred H.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Fossil hominids--Germany; Paleolithic period--Germany; Human evolution; Neanderthals


This thesis is a systematic quantitative and qualitative comparative analysis of the humerus found in 1932 at the Vogelherd cave in Southwestern Germany by Gustav Riek. Notable for the extremely robust size of the muscular insertions of the deltoid and pectoralis major muscles, this specimen is of considerable importance to the debate on the origins of modern Europeans. While the humerus has been previously only cursorily mentioned in the literature as Neandertal, or "Neandertal-like," this thesis suggests that the Vogelherd humerus represents an extremely robust Early Upper Paleolithic individual. Recovered from the context of Early Aurignacian levels at the cave which radiocarbon dates from Vogelherd and the nearby site of GeiBenklosterle suggest may date in excess of 3 5000 B. P. , this specimen represents the earliest known human postcranial material yet recovered in direct association with the Aurignacian, and it allows direct postcranial comparison between Neandertals and Early Modern Humans in the Circum-Mediterranean area. The implications of this specimen on the debate over modern European origins are investigated with the conclusion that the Vogelherd humerus neither proves nor disproves any of the current dissenting theories on the origins of modern humans.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [107]-[110])


[110] pages




Northern Illinois University

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