|The skull of the man found in the site known as Burial 37... (Photo by Eric Bartelink/Phoebe Hearst Museum)|
According to a new study of the ancient skeleton, they are signs of acromegaly, a rare disorder of the endocrine system that’s similar to gigantism.
The California man is among the very few examples of acromegaly ever found in the archaeological record, and it’s the oldest ever identified, according to Dr. Eric Bartelink, a physical anthropologist at California State University, Chico.
“It is the earliest evidence of this condition in humans, the only documented case from prehistoric California, [and] one of the more complete skeletons documented with this condition,” he said in an interview.
Acromegaly has only been identified definitively at two other archaeological sites in North America, Bartelink said: in the remains of a male buried in New Mexico about 600 years ago, and an unsexed 1,100-year-old skull found in Illinois.
The newly found case in California adds to the scant literature of the disorder, he said, potentially improving how acromegaly may be diagnosed in other remains, and also shedding light on the history of the disease, perhaps even how it was interpreted in the ancient past. [...] westerndigs.org/