Dental remains of the Middle Pleistocene hominins from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain): Mandibular dentition

The Middle Pleistocene site of the Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Spain) has yielded a considerable number of human fossils during the period 1984–2020. Among them, up to 314 mandibular teeth have been identified. In this second paper dedicated to the dentition we present the description of the eight dental classes of the mandible following the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System (ASUDAS) classification. In addition, we show the mean mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters obtained in these teeth compared to those of Neanderthals and a modern human sample. The morphology of both the anterior and posterior teeth suggests a close relationship of the Sima de los Huesos hominins with the populations of the second half of the Middle Pleistocene of Europe and the Near East, as well as with the so-called classic Neanderthals of Europe. The combination of dental traits in these populations is characteristic and diagnostic and suggests grouping the Sima de los Huesos hominins with the other paleodemes in a Neanderthal clade. The dental evidence of the Sima de los Huesos hominins is key to propose a complex model for the settlement of Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. In this period, different migrations of human groups probably coming from Southwest Asia, replacements, prolonged isolations, as well as hybridization and introgression processes would have contributed to the diversity of hominins in Europe.