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By Ethne Barnes

Publication by way of Barnes, Ethne

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Extra resources for Developmental defects of the axial skeleton in paleopathology

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Polydactyly is more common in Black populations than in others (Adams and Niswander 1968; Carter 1964; Leck 1984). Pedigree studies have shown that a number of developmental defects follow kinship lines, indicating genetic origin (Kelikian 1974; Young 1987). Page 10 What causes developmental defects? Darwin suggested that defects in development are the cost of population variability (Edwards 1964), which is necessary to preserve the potential for evolutionary change. Most changes are minimal, reflecting normal variation.

The highest incidences of spina bifida and anencephaly occur in northwestern Europeans. The Japanese have the highest incidence of cleft lip and palate, with North American Indians close behind in frequency. Polydactyly is more common in Black populations than in others (Adams and Niswander 1968; Carter 1964; Leck 1984). Pedigree studies have shown that a number of developmental defects follow kinship lines, indicating genetic origin (Kelikian 1974; Young 1987). Page 10 What causes developmental defects?

Many disruptions do not have serious effects and are fully compatible with normal adult life unless they are complicated by other factors, such as trauma. The approach Dr. Barnes takes of careful anatomical observation combined with substantial knowledge of embryological development has powerful explanatory power in interpreting abnormalities apparent in human skeletal remains. Biparietal thinning, for example, is a feature that is well-known but poorly understood in the literature on skeletal paleopathology.

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