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Comparative anatomy and diversity of the diploic venous system in the genus Homo

Anatomie comparée et diversité du système veineux diploïque dans le genre Homo
Jiaming Hui, Xiujie Wu et Antoine Balzeau

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1As a system highly involved in metabolism, the cranial vessels are directly related to the function of the brain, skull, and face. As such, they may present adaptative answers to various constraints all over human evolution. The enclosed space of the cranium lends an opportunity to trace the vessel imprints, especially the diploic venous system, of which the evolutionary trend and taxonomic significance are largely unexplored. However, inspecting the diploic veins is an enduring challenge. The traditional method relies on invasive dissections, while the resolution of CT and MR is not high enough for displaying the details of the veins at a millimetric scale. In this context, knowledge of the anatomy and variation of the diploic system within and between hominin species is still superficial. To explore the potential of the vascular system in phylogenetic analyses, and with micro-CT scanning, we reconstruct detailed maps of the diploic veins in several specimens attributed to Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, Upper palaeolithic Homo sapiens, as well as for the specimens with controversial taxonomic status – Maba 1 and Kabwe cranium (BH1). We propose several original characterisations of their diploic venous systems. The results from visual inspections, volume analyses, and fractal analyses reveal that the vascularisation level of the diploic veins may vary with the thickness of the diploe. The considerable intraspecific variation and large interspecific overlap make the vascularisation level unsuitable for differentiating hominin species. However, the description and analyses of how the diploic veins communicate with other neurocranial vessels (the meningeal vessels, pericranial vessels, and dural sinuses) are of interest in phylogenetic discussions, as clear differences in the connection pattern are detectable between hominin species.

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Jiaming Hui, Xiujie Wu et Antoine Balzeau, « Comparative anatomy and diversity of the diploic venous system in the genus Homo »Bulletins et mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris [En ligne], 35(S) | 2023, mis en ligne le 14 janvier 2023, consulté le 24 mai 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Jiaming Hui

UMR 7194 HNHP, MNHN, CNRS, UPVD, Département Homme et Environnement, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France

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Xiujie Wu

Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Antoine Balzeau

UMR 7194 HNHP, MNHN, CNRS, UPVD, Département Homme et Environnement, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France ; Department of African Zoology, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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