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30 August 2011
Ancient bone from tall man found in Japan

Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient forearm bone from the Mabuni Hantabaru site in Itoman (Southern Japan), believed to be from a Jomon period male roughly 169 centimeters tall - much taller than the average for the period. The bone, measuring about 28 centimeters, is believed to date back 3,000-4,000 years. The average height of males from the same period is about 158 centimeters.
     Takayuki Matsushita, honorary head of the Doigahama Site Anthropological Museum in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which conducted a survey of the area, said the find was unusual. "Even on a national scale, this is an unusual height, and it could make a difference to research on people from the Jomon period," Matsushita said.
     The survey of the site in Itoman, believed to be a burial ground, was conducted in collaboration with the Itoman Municipal Board of Education between 2007 and 2010. So far the bones of 85 people have been unearthed at the site. In a lower layer, the forearm bone - believed to be the ulna of an adult male - was found practically undamaged.
     The 169-centimeter estimated height of the person is the tallest among the Jomon period specimens found in Kyushu and Okinawa. The bones of another male estimated to be 164 centimeters tall have also been unearthed at the site. However, Matsushita said with only two samples of relatively tall people being found, there was no evidence that their height had been passed on genetically. "It may have been a result of individual variation, or the bones may have been from someone outside the Mabuni group. We want to see if there are any other instances of the bones of tall people being found in the prefecture," Matsushita said.

Edited from The Mainichi Daily News (30 August 2011)

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