Evidence of weaning stress and catch-up growth in the long bones of a central California Amerindian sample.
Diaphyseal growth patterns are described and analysed for a cross-sectional sample of immature Central California Amerindian skeletal remains. This collection is housed at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley, California, and comprises the largest immature skeletal sample of prehistoric Amerindians from the West Coast of North America examined to date. Mean long bone length values and estimates of growth velocity are compared to data reported for the Indian Knoll and Arikara skeletal samples. The Central California long bone growth curves are very similar to the Indian Knoll and Arikara from birth through dental age 2. A period of growth retardation is evident in the Central California sample at dental age 3, both in comparison to the Central California 2-year-olds and the Indian Knoll and Arikara 3-year-olds. However, estimated growth velocity indicates a comparable decline in growth rates for all three groups between ages 2 and 3. Catch-up growth is exhibited in the Central California long bones at dental ages 4 and 5. The departure from the expected cross-sectional growth curve between ages 3 and 5 is suggested to be correlated with the onset of weaning and a subsequent slow-down in skeletal growth. A method of quantitatively testing for the presence of poor growth performance in archaeological skeletal collections is applied to the Central California data.
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