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Publication History View all

  • 09/2014; 6:20–29. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpp.2014.03.003
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    ABSTRACT: The main goal of this paper is to describe and discuss pathological lesions observed in a Roman skeleton (between 2nd and 3rd century AD) from the north-east region of the Iberian Peninsula (St Nicasi 18–24 site. Gavà, Barcelona), which may be compatible with treponematosis. Most of the skeleton, with the exception of the neurocranium, was recovered. Only the left tibia was affected, whereas the rest of the recovered skeletal remains were unaffected. Macroscopic examination revealed a male individual between 25 and 30 years of age at death with a sabre-shaped left tibia. The proximal half of the diaphysis was pitted and the bone overall enlarged. The surface of the tibia showed occasional vascular impressions where, in some instances, small raised plaques of new bone appeared to bridge over them, specifically in the most affected area of the proximal half of the tibia. No destructive lesions were observed. Radiographic examination and gross inspection at the cross section of the tibia showed encroachment into the medullary cavity of coarse cancellous bone and cancellization of the cortex. The observed lesions indicate that the tibia was affected by a chronic infectious disease. Differential diagnoses were considered, and these included other infectious diseases, fibrous dysplasia, Paget's disease, chronic varicose ulcers affecting bone and trauma, with the conclusion that the disease affecting the tibia could have been treponematosis.This could be significant in the history of the treponematoses being one of the oldest examples of treponematosis in pre-Columbian Europe. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11/2013; 23(6). DOI:10.1002/oa.1293
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    ABSTRACT: Early Medieval England is described historically as a time when people migrated from the Continent to English shores. This study tests the hypothesis that those buried in the Bowl Hole cemetery, Bamburgh, Northumberland were nonlocally born, because of its royal status. Ninety-one male and female adult, and nonadult, skeletons were studied. Isotope ratios of strontium ((87) Sr/(86) Sr) and oxygen (δ(18) O) were generated for 78 individuals (28 females, 27 males, five "adults," 18 nonadults). The mean Sr value for human enamel was 0.71044, standard deviation (sd) 0.001, and the mean O (δw) value is -5.9‰, sd 1.6‰. Additionally, animal tooth enamel (mean Sr value 0.710587, sd 0.001; mean O value -6.5‰, sd 1.5‰), local soil (mean Sr value 0.709184, sd 0.0006), snail shells (mean Sr value 0.708888, sd 0.0001), and soil samples from a 5 km transect heading inland (mean Sr value 0.709121, sd 0.0003), were analyzed for an indication of the isotopic composition of bioavailable Sr in the modern environment and to assess the impact of sea-spray; water samples from a well, local rivers, and standing water were analyzed for local δ(18) O values (mean O value -6.4‰, relative to VSMOW, sd 2.8‰). Over 50% of those buried at Bamburgh were nonlocal. All ages and both sexes produced "nonlocal" signatures; some suggested childhood origins in Scandinavia, the southern Mediterranean or North Africa. Stature and other indicators of health status indicated differences in quality of life between local and migrant groups. These differences did not extend to burial practices. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 07/2013; 151(3). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22290
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    ABSTRACT: The term exaptation was introduced to encourage biologists to consider alternatives to adaptation to explain the origins of traits. Here, we discuss why exaptation has proved more successful in technological than biological contexts, and propose a revised definition of exaptation applicable to both genetic and cultural evolution.
    Trends in Ecology & Evolution 06/2013; 28(9). DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2013.05.018
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    ABSTRACT: Though the process of domestication results in a wide variety of novel phenotypic and behavioural traits, coat colour variation is one of the few characteristics that distinguishes all domestic animals from their wild progenitors. A number of recent reviews have discussed and synthesised the hundreds of genes known to underlie specific coat colour patterns in a wide range of domestic animals. This review extends those studies by asking how what is known about the causative mutations associated with variable coat colours can be used to address three specific questions related to the appearance of coat colours in domestic animals. Firstly, is it possible that coat colour variation resulted as a by-product of an initial selection for tameness during the early phases of domestication? Secondly, how soon after the process began did domestic animals display coat colour variation? Lastly, what evidence is there that intentional human selection, rather than drift, is primarily responsible for the wide range of modern coat colours? By considering the presence and absence of coat colour genes within the context of the different pathways animals travelled from wild to captive populations, we conclude that coat colour variability was probably not a pleiotropic effect of the selection for tameness, that coat colours most likely appeared very soon after the domestication process began, and that humans have been actively selecting for colour novelty and thus allowing for the proliferation of new mutations in a range of coat colours.
    Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 04/2013; 24(6-7). DOI:10.1016/j.semcdb.2013.03.015
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    ABSTRACT: The fundamental shift associated with the domestication of plants and animals allowed for a dramatic increase in human population sizes and the emergence of modern society. Despite its importance and the decades of research devoted to studying it, questions regarding the origins and processes of domestication remain. Here, we review recent theoretical advances and present a perspective that underscores the crucial role that population admixture has played in influencing the genomes of domestic animals over the past 10000 years. We then discuss novel approaches to generating and analysing genetic data, emphasising the importance of an explicit hypothesis-testing approach for the inference of the origins and subsequent evolution and demography of domestic animals. By applying next-generation sequencing technology alongside appropriate biostatistical methodologies, a substantially deeper understanding of domestication is on the horizon.
    Trends in Genetics 02/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.tig.2013.01.003
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    ABSTRACT: Mobility and migration patterns of groups and individuals have long been a topic of interest to archaeologists, used for broad explanatory models of cultural change as well as illustrations of historical particularism. The 14th century AD was a tumultuous period of history in Britain, with severely erratic weather patterns, the Great Famine of 1315-1322, the Scottish Wars of Independence, and the Hundred Years' War providing additional migration pressures to the ordinary economic issues drawing individuals to their capital under more stable conditions. East Smithfield Black Death Cemetery (Royal Mint) had a documented use period of only 2 years (AD 1348-1350), providing a precise historical context (∼50 years) for data. Adults (n = 30) from the East Smithfield site were sampled for strontium and oxygen stable isotope analyses of tooth enamel. Five individuals were demonstrated to be statistical outliers through the combined strontium and oxygen isotope data. Potential origins for migrants ranged from London's surrounding hinterlands to distant portions of northern and western Britain. Historic food sourcing practices for London were found to be an important factor for consideration in a broader than expected (87) Sr/(86) Sr range reflected in a comparison of enamel samples from three London datasets. The pooled dataset demonstrated a high level of consistency between site data, divergent from the geologically predicted range. We argue that this supports the premise that isotope data in human populations must be approached as a complex interaction between behavior and environment and thus should be interpreted cautiously with the aid of alternate lines of evidence. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 02/2013; 150(2). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22194
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    ABSTRACT: Treponematosis has been one of the most studied and debated infectious diseases in paleopathology, particularly from the standpoint of its origin, evolution, and transmission. This study links evidence for treponematosis in skeletons from the 14th-16th century AD cemetery of the Augustinian friary of Hull Magistrates Court, England, with data from stable isotope analysis to test the hypothesis that the people with treponemal disease buried at this site were not locally born and raised. The objective is to explore the potential of using stable isotope data to track the place of origin and extent of mobility of individuals with an infectious disease. Dental enamel samples of 12 skeletons were selected for strontium ((87) Sr/(86) Sr ratio) and oxygen (δ(18) O) stable isotope analysis based on the presence (six - diseased) or absence (six - controls) of bone changes associated with treponemal disease. The oxygen isotope ratios of all but three individuals (1047, 1121, 823) overlapped at two standard deviations with the inferred local precipitation range, and only one individual (1216) had a strontium isotope ratio outside the regional range. Two of the four had probable/possible treponemal bone changes. Those with treponemal bone changes were not demonstrably more likely to be migrants than those without such lesions. However, because of extensive documentary evidence for trade with the Baltic Sea area, and for merchants from towns such as Stralsund, Danzig and Elbing being in Hull, it is very plausible that the four migrants came from the Baltic area or even southern Sweden. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 02/2013; 150(2). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22203
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    ABSTRACT: Schmorl's nodes are the result of herniations of the nucleus pulposus into the adjacent vertebral body and are commonly identified in both clinical and archaeological contexts. The current study aims to identify aspects of vertebral shape that correlate with Schmorl's nodes. Two-dimensional statistical shape analysis was performed on digital images of the lower thoracic spine (T10-T12) of adult skeletons from the late medieval skeletal assemblages from Fishergate House, York, St. Mary Graces and East Smithfield Black Death cemeteries, London, and postmedieval Chelsea Old Church, London. Schmorl's nodes were scored on the basis of their location, depth, and size. Results indicate that there is a correlation between the shape of the posterior margin of the vertebral body and pedicles and the presence of Schmorl's nodes in the lower thoracic spine. The size of the vertebral body in males was also found to correlate with the lesions. Vertebral shape differences associated with the macroscopic characteristics of Schmorl's nodes, indicating severity of the lesion, were also analyzed. The shape of the pedicles and the posterior margin of the vertebral body, along with a larger vertebral body size in males, have a strong association with both the presence and severity of Schmorl's nodes. This suggests that shape and/or size of these vertebral components are predisposing to, or resulting in, vertically directed disc herniation. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 12/2012; 149(4). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22168
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have suggested that the presence of sea ice is an important factor in facilitating migration and determining the degree of genetic isolation among contemporary arctic fox populations. Because the extent of sea ice is dependent upon global temperatures, periods of significant cooling would have had a major impact on fox population connectivity and genetic variation. We tested this hypothesis by extracting and sequencing mitochondrial control region sequences from 17 arctic foxes excavated from two late-ninth-century to twelfth-century AD archaeological sites in northeast Iceland, both of which predate the Little Ice Age (approx. sixteenth to nineteenth century). Despite the fact that five haplotypes have been observed in modern Icelandic foxes, a single haplotype was shared among all of the ancient individuals. Results from simulations within an approximate Bayesian computation framework suggest that the rapid increase in Icelandic arctic fox haplotype diversity can only be explained by sea-ice-mediated fox immigration facilitated by the Little Ice Age.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2012; 279(1747):4568-73. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2012.1796
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