Juan Luis Arsuaga

American Museum of Natural History, New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (231)786.78 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Numerous studies have attempted to identify the presence of uniquely derived (autoapomorphic) Neandertal features. Here, we deal with the medial pterygoid tubercle (MTP), which is usually present on the internal face of the ascending ramus of Neandertal specimens. Our study stems from the identification of a hypertrophied tubercle in ATD6-96, an Early Pleistocene mandible recovered from the TD6 level of the Atapuerca-Gran Dolina site and attributed to Homo antecessor. Our review of the literature and study of numerous original fossil specimens and high quality replicas confirm that the MTP occurs at a high frequency in Neandertals (ca. 89%) and is also present in over half (ca. 55%) of the Middle Pleistocene Sima de los Huesos (SH) hominins. In contrast, it is generally absent or minimally developed in other extinct hominins, but can be found in variable frequencies (<ca. 25%) in Pleistocene and recent H. sapiens samples. The presence of this feature in ATD6-96 joins other traits shared by H. antecessor, the SH hominins and Neandertals. Since the TD6 hominins have been attributed either to MIS 21 or to MIS 25, it seems that a suite of assumed derived Neandertal features appeared in the Early Pleistocene, and they should be interpreted as synapomorphies shared among different taxa. We suggest that H. antecessor, the SH hominins and Neandertals shared a common ancestor in which these features appeared during the Early Pleistocene. The presence of the MTP in taxa other than H. neanderthalensis precludes this feature from being a Neandertal autapomorphy. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 10/2014; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, a new Early Pleistocene proximal hand phalanx (ATE9-2) from the Sima del Elefante cave site (TE – Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain), ascribed to Homo sp., is presented and comparatively described in the context of the evolution of the genus Homo. The ATE9-2 specimen is especially important because of the paucity of hand bones in the human fossil record during the Early Pleistocene. The morphological and metrical analyses of the phalanx ATE9-2 indicate that there are no essential differences between it and comparator fossil specimens for the genus Homo after 1.3 Ma (millions of years ago). Similar to Sima de los Huesos and Neandertal specimens, ATE9-2 is a robust proximal hand phalanx, probably reflecting greater overall body robusticity in these populations or a higher gracility in modern humans. The age of level TE9 from Sima del Elefante and morphological and metrical studies of ATE9-2 suggest that the morphology of the proximal hand phalanges and, thus, the morphology of the hand could have remained stable over the last 1.2–1.3 Ma. Taking into account the evidence recently provided by a metacarpal from Kaitio (Kenya) from around 1.42 Ma, we argue that modern hand morphology is present in the genus Homo subsequent to Homo habilis.
    Journal of Human Evolution 09/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
  • 09/2014; , ISBN: 9781782974017
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of calcanei in the fossil record prior to modern humans and Neandertals is very scarce. This skeletal element is fundamental to understanding the evolution of the morphology of the foot in human evolution. Here we present and metrically and comparatively describe 29 calcaneus remains from the Middle Pleistocene site of Sima de los Huesos (SH) (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). These calcanei belong to 15 individuals (nine adults, two adolescents and four immature individuals). The metric and morphological differences in the calcanei among Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins tend to be subtle. However, the calcanei from SH are broad and robust with large articular surfaces and most significantly, exhibit a very projected sustentaculum tali. A biomechanical and phylogenetic interpretation is proffered to explain the observed morphology of these calcanei. It has been possible to propose tentative sex assignments for the SH calcanei based on size, using methods similar to those used to establish sex from the talus bones from SH. The estimation of stature based on the calcaneus provides a mean of 175.3 cm for males and 160.6 for females, which is similar to that obtained using other skeletal parts from the site. In sum, the SH calcanei are robust with a proportionally long tubercle and a projected sustentaculum tali, which are traits shared by Neandertals.
    Journal of Human Evolution 06/2014; On line. · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seventeen Middle Pleistocene crania from the Sima de los Huesos site (Atapuerca, Spain) are analyzed, including seven new specimens. This sample makes it possible to thoroughly characterize a Middle Pleistocene hominin paleodeme and to address hypotheses about the origin and evolution of the Neandertals. Using a variety of techniques, the hominin-bearing layer could be reassigned to a period around 430,000 years ago. The sample shows a consistent morphological pattern with derived Neandertal features present in the face and anterior vault, many of which are related to the masticatory apparatus. This suggests that facial modification was the first step in the evolution of the Neandertal lineage, pointing to a mosaic pattern of evolution, with different anatomical and functional modules evolving at different rates.
    Science 06/2014; 344:1358. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seventeen Middle Pleistocene crania from the Sima de los Huesos site (Atapuerca, Spain) are analyzed, including seven new specimens. This sample makes it possible to thoroughly characterize a Middle Pleistocene hominin paleodeme and to address hypotheses about the origin and evolution of the Neandertals. Using a variety of techniques, the hominin-bearing layer could be reassigned to a period around 430,000 years ago. The sample shows a consistent morphological pattern with derived Neandertal features present in the face and anterior vault, many of which are related to the masticatory apparatus. This suggests that facial modification was the first step in the evolution of the Neandertal lineage, pointing to a mosaic pattern of evolution, with different anatomical and functional modules evolving at different rates.
    Science 06/2014; 344(6190):1358-1363. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pleistocene level TD6-2 of the Gran Dolina site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) is the result of anthropogenic accumulation. Hominin groups occupied the cave as a home base, where they brought in, butchered and consumed the carcasses of ungulates and other hominins. In this paper, we reassess the role of carnivores in the formation and/or modification of the assemblage. We employed different methods to explore the scenario in which the TD6-2 assemblage was formed: (1) identifying the actor responsible for tooth marks; (2) determining the frequency of carnivore tooth marks and their distribution; (3) identifying the co-occurrence of modifications (butchering marks and carnivore tooth marks); (4) calculating the percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio. Carnivore tooth marks are scarce, as is the co-occurrence of hominin and carnivore modifications. However, not all tooth marks have been attributed to a particular agent due to the high equifinality between human and carnivore tooth marks. For these reasons, the frequency of tooth marks and the co-occurrence of modifications have been of little help in interpreting the role of carnivores. Axial skeletal remains and the epiphyses of the long bones are in large part missing. The percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio suggest moderate carnivore ravaging activity. Our data indicate that the role of carnivores in TD6-2 seems to have had an impact on the original assemblage after hominins had extracted a large amount of nutrients from the carcasses. Cannibalized hominin remains showed no carnivore tooth marks and have a greater presence of low survival bones compared to ungulate remains. These findings point to a different taphonomic history suggesting that TD6-2 represents a succession of settlements having different characteristics.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The application of microtomography (mCT) to dental morphological studies has unveiled a new source of palaeobiological information, particularly in the analysis of the internal structures of teeth. In this study, we assess the expression of talonid crests at the enamel and dentine surfaces in lower permanent and second deciduous molars (M2 and dm2) of H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos (SH) hominins. In modern humans, talonid crests are described exclusively in the deciduous teeth (Korenhof, 1982) and interpreted as a primitive mammalian remnant of the talonid attachment to the trigonid. Here we report for the first time the expression of talonid crests of deciduous and permanent molars in H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and Middle Pleistocene hominins. We discuss possible evolutionary interpretations and suggest the importance of recording this feature in future studies.
    Comptes Rendus Palevol 02/2014; On line. · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    Comptes Rendus Palevol 02/2014; on line. · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    Nohemi Sala, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Gary Haynes
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    ABSTRACT: This work presents data obtained from experiments conducted on wild and captive wolves. Actualism is a very useful tool for taphonomic studies, as it allows us to understand the behavior of fauna in the past. However, not many past experimental studies have dealt with wolves as taphonomic agents. The results of the study show that wolves modify animal carcasses in advanced stages that include fracturing the bones in order to consume the marrow. By comparing captive and wild wolves, we observe that captive wolves often modify ungulate carcasses to a greater degree than do wild wolves. Moreover, factors such as the size of the ungulate and the period of availability of the carcass influence the type and degree of bone alteration. Tooth mark dimensions also allow us to compare wolves with other large carnivores and reveal that wolves differ significantly from large felids and ursids, and they have more in common with hyenids.
    Quaternary International 01/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Cueva del Camino site (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid, Spain) is located in the upper valley of the Lozoya River in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a mountain range extending NE-SW within the Central Range System. Due to its location within a mountain range on the central Iberian Peninsula at an altitude of 1114 m a.s.l. and the numerical dating of its sediments, the palaeontological site of Cueva del Camino has proved a highly relevant location for studying the ecological changes linked to the climatic fluctuations at the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and the beginning of MIS 4. Environmental reconstructions suggest a rather open, patchy landscape throughout the succession, with abundant evidence of dry meadows, scrublands and rocky habitats. The climate can be considered as generally warm, reaching mean annual temperatures (MATs) of up to 13.8°C (i.e. higher than today’s by up to 2.9°C). Three cooler events can be seen throughout the succession as reflected by the presence of Rana iberica, Anguis fragilis and Coronella austriaca. The first of these events may correlate with MIS 5b; the second in the Central sector may correlate with the Stadial I pollen event occurring at the end of MIS 5a; and the third event, corresponding to the coldest MAT of the entire succession with MATs 0.9°C lower than today’s, may correspond to the transition from MIS 5a to MIS 4. The evolution of mean annual precipitation (MAP) is characterized by warm periods, drier and cold periods, as well as wetter periods (up to +356 mm compared to today’s MAP values), similar to what occurs today in the high-elevation areas of the neighbouring mountains. Our study gives new quantitative estimations for the climatic fluctuations in mountain environments of central Spain at the MIS 5/4 transition and their associated ecological changes.
    Boreas 01/2014; 43:107–120. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pleistocene level TD6-2 of the Gran Dolina site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) is the result of anthropogenic accumulation. Hominin groups occupied the cave as a home base, where they brought in, butchered and consumed the carcasses of ungulates and other hominins. In this paper, we reassess the role of carnivores in the formation and/or modification of the assemblage. We employed different methods to explore the scenario in which the TD6-2 assemblage was formed: (1) identifying the actor responsible for tooth marks; (2) determining the frequency of carnivore tooth marks and their distribution; (3) identifying the co-occurrence of modifications (butchering marks and carnivore tooth marks); (4) calculating the percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio. Carnivore tooth marks are scarce, as is the co-occurrence of hominin and carnivore modifications. However, not all tooth marks have been attributed to a particular agent due to the high equifinality between human and carnivore tooth marks. For these reasons, the frequency of tooth marks and the co-occurrence of modifications have been of little help in interpreting the role of carnivores. Axial skeletal remains and the epiphyses of the long bones are in large part missing. The percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio suggest moderate carnivore ravaging activity. Our data indicate that the role of carnivores in TD6-2 seems to have had an impact on the original assemblage after hominins had extracted a large amount of nutrients from the carcasses. Cannibalized hominin remains showed no carnivore tooth marks and have a greater presence of low survival bones compared to ungulate remains. These findings point to a different taphonomic history suggesting that TD6-2 represents a succession of settlements having different characteristics.
    Quaternary Science Reviews 01/2014; 93:47–66. · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • 01/2014: pages 101-111; , ISBN: 9789401786287
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    ABSTRACT: Un crâne complet d’Ursus deningeri de Petralona (Chalkidiki, Grèce) recouvert d’une croûte épaisse de carbonate, a été libéré « virtuellement » au moyen de la tomographie et de la reconstruction d’image en 3D. Il a été comparé avec un autre spécimen du Pléistocène Moyen provenant du gisement de la Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, Espagne). La tomographie par rayons X a permis d’identifier des caractères précédemment non reconnus et phylogénétiquement remarquables. L’analyse de ces caractères et d’une série additionnelle de caractères classiquement définis démontrent la quasi-identité de ces échantillons ; confirmant la précocité de la branche spéloïde « (ours des cavernes) ». Les âges obtenus par divers analyses de luminiscence en le dépôt de SH fournissent une estimation de ĺâge minimum combinée de 427 ± 12 ka pour les fossiles sous-jacents. En se basant sur la série de caractéristiques morphologiques primitives et dérivées de ces deux crânes, nous proposons ici un âge similaire pour les U. deningeri de Petralona et Sima de los Huesos.
    Annales de Paléontologie 01/2014; · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Sima de los Huesos (SH) site is the largest accumulation of human remains from the Middle Pleistocene known to date. Studies in the last two decades have proposed different hypotheses to explain carnivore activity in the SH human sample. This study provides new data in order to test these different interpretations, and therefore to understand the role of the carnivores in site formation at SH. Carnivores are usually not the origin of large accumulations of hominin fossils in the Eurasian record. The results show that marks of carnivore activity in the SH sample appear very infrequently, which we interpret as indicating that carnivore activity was very sporadic at the site. This is in stark contrast with previous studies. The comparison of bone modification patterns at SH to actualistic carnivore data allows us to suggest that bears were likely to have been the carnivore responsible for the modification observed on both human and bear fossils.
    Quaternary Science Reviews 01/2014; 97:71–83. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of alternative luminescence dating techniques, such as thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence (TT-OSL), post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (pIR-IRSL) and OSL dating of individual quartz ‘supergrains’, has opened up new possibilities for establishing numerical age control on sedimentary deposits that exceed the traditional upper age limits of quartz OSL dating. In this study, we evaluate the reliability of these ‘extended-range’ luminescence dating techniques over Middle and Early Pleistocene timescales using two approaches: (i) a broad-scale synthesis of extended-range luminescence chronologies published so far as part of known-age comparison studies; (ii) a series of new TT-OSL and pIR-IRSL case studies at the palaeoanthropological sites of Galería, Sima del Elefante and Gran Dolina (Atapuerca, Spain). The published known-age TT-OSL datasets (n = 82) and supergrain OSL datasets (n = 3) display good correspondence (i.e., suitably linear and proportion relationships) with associated age control. The known-age pIR-IRSL datasets (n = 228) display more inter-sample scatter, though there is general support for the reliability of more stringent pIR-IRSL protocols and multiple-elevated temperature pIR-IRSL approaches over Late and Middle Pleistocene timescales. While these reliability assessments are encouraging, there remains a clear need for more widespread, known-age empirical assessments of extended-range luminescence techniques beyond ∼300–400 ka. The ages obtained at Atapuerca using single-grain TT-OSL and pIR-IRSL measurement temperatures of 225 °C (pIR-IR225) are in agreement with independent age control over an age range spanning ∼240–930 ka. In contrast, the pIR-IRSL chronologies obtained using a more stringent measurement temperature of 290 °C (pIR-IR290) consistently overestimate the expected ages of the Atapuerca sequences. The single-grain TT-OSL ages obtained at Gran Dolina permit calculation of a new weighted mean age of 846 ± 57 ka for the Homo antecessor palaeoanthropological horizon (unit TD6). The known-age Atapuerca case studies highlight the feasibility, and advantages, of applying TT-OSL dating at the single-grain scale of analysis and demonstrate that the suitability of pIR-IRSL dating protocols can vary significantly at a site or regional scale. Together, our analyses show that no single extended-range luminescence dating technique is likely to be universally applicable to all samples. Collectively, however, these approaches offer good potential for obtaining reliable chronologies, and they are likely to offer the greatest benefits when applied in tandem to individual samples.
    Quaternary International 01/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Cueva Mayor karst system of Atapuerca, in Northern Spain, hosts a highly significant record of human occupation from the Pleistocene. The climatic context of the human activities during the Pleistocene-Holocene for this inland site has not been well constrained, since existing records of the palaeoclimatic evolution of the Northern Iberian Peninsula are from more distal coastal and high-elevation sites. In this study, we interpret the palaeoenvironmental information recorded on the petrography of a stalagmite and the pollen spectra of the Sierra de Atapuerca karst system during the last 20 kyr. The integration of both types of records has allowed us to define four palaeoenvironmental stages. During the Upper Pleistocene and until 12.8 kyr BP, the climate was cold and dry, toward the end of the interval evolving to wetter and warmer conditions. From 12.8 to 7.7 kyr BP, during the Mesolithic-Neolithic, a major erosion event in both records marks the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Around 5.9 kyr BP, the Late Neolithic, environmental conditions indicate a climatic optimum with a marked seasonality. The environmental conditions became drier from 4.2 kyr BP until the present, with a decrease in the woodlands. This aridity signal might be amplified by the impact of a more intense human agricultural activity after 3.1 kyr BP, during the Bronze Age.
    International Journal of Speleology 01/2014; 43(1):1-14. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Establishing a reliable chronology on the extensive hominin remains at Sima de los Huesos is critical for an improved understanding of the complex evolutionary histories and phylogenetic relationships of the European Middle Pleistocene hominin record. In this study, we use a combination of ‘extended-range’ luminescence dating techniques and palaeomagnetism to provide new age constraint on sedimentary infills that are unambiguously associated with the Sima fossil assemblage. Post-infrared-infrared stimulated luminescence (pIR-IR) dating of K-feldspars and thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence (TT-OSL) dating of individual quartz grains provide weighted mean ages of 433 ± 15 ka (thousands of years) and 416 ± 19 ka, respectively, for allochthonous sedimentary horizons overlying the hominin-bearing clay breccia. The six replicate luminescence ages obtained for this deposit are reproducible and provide a combined minimum age estimate of 427 ± 12 ka for the underlying hominin fossils. Palaeomagnetic directions for the luminescence dated sediment horizon and underlying fossiliferous clays display exclusively normal polarities. These findings are consistent with the luminescence dating results and confirm that the hominin fossil horizon accumulated during the Brunhes Chron, i.e., within the last 780 ka. The new bracketing age constraint for the Sima hominins is in broad agreement with radiometrically dated Homo heidelbergensis fossil sites, such as Mauer and Arago, and suggests that the split of the H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens lineages took place during the early Middle Pleistocene. More widespread numerical dating of key Early and Middle Pleistocene fossil sites across Europe is needed to test and refine competing models of hominin evolution. The new luminescence chronologies presented in this study demonstrate the versatility of TT-OSL and pIR-IR techniques and the potential role they could play in helping to refine evolutionary histories over Middle Pleistocene timescales.
    Journal of Human Evolution 01/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    01/2014;

Publication Stats

4k Citations
786.78 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • American Museum of Natural History
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2007–2014
    • University of Alcalá
      • • Department of Geology, Geography and Environment
      • • Department of Signal and Communications Theory
      Cómpluto, Madrid, Spain
    • University of Leipzig
      Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
  • 1990–2014
    • Complutense University of Madrid
      • • Departamento de Paleontología
      • • Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2013
    • Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology
      • Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
      Beijing, Beijing Shi, China
    • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2011–2013
    • Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social
      Tarraco, Catalonia, Spain
    • Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research
      Altenberg, Upper Austria, Austria
  • 2005–2013
    • Centro de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana
      Burgos, Castille and León, Spain
    • Uppsala University
      Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 2012
    • Swedish Museum of Natural History
      Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden
    • University of Cambridge
      • Division of Biological Anthropology
      Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom
    • George Washington University
      • Department of Anthropology
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2005–2012
    • Instituto de Salud Carlos III
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 1999–2011
    • Universitat Rovira i Virgili
      Tarraco, Catalonia, Spain
    • University of Barcelona
      • Departament de Biologia Animal
      Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • 1997–2011
    • University of Zaragoza
      • Faculty of Sciences (CIENCIAS)
      Caesaraugusta, Aragon, Spain
  • 1999–2007
    • Universidad de Burgos
      • Departamento de Ciencias Históricas y Geografía
      Burgos, Castile and Leon, Spain
  • 2000–2004
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      Roma, Latium, Italy
    • University of Michigan
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
  • 1999–2003
    • Spanish National Research Council
      • Departamento de Paleobiología
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2001
    • State University of New York
      New York City, New York, United States