Paleoanthropology

Paleoanthropology

  • Marc Verhaegen added an answer:
    Why was human evolution possible despite the remarkable phenotypic flexibility of humans?
    A basic idea underlying the evolutionary approach to cognition is that serious changes in behavior are consequences of alterations in the genome. However, this assumption is wrong for our species. Indeed, the children of hunter-gatherers and farmers may become stock brokers and coders simply because farming was a standard occupation for one generation and coding is a typical occupation for the following generation. If our species is so flexible then it is reasonable to assume our ancestors were very adaptive too and able to adjust phenotypically to any situations. Then why after the emergence of bipedalism human evolution took place? Such answers as because only our species has some unique characteristics (language, etc.) do not seem interesting.
    Marc Verhaegen · Study Center Anthropology

    For José Joordens' paper, google e.g. "joordens erectus nature 2014" or so: about 1.2 mill.yrs ago, H.erectus used shark teeth to open freshwater shells: it was probably a large river not far from the sea. In any case, it confirms that Pleistocene Homo dispersed along the African & Eurasian coasts & rivers rather than running over open plains.

  • Thomas J. Loebel added an answer:
    Evidence for functional usage of Manganese dioxyde (MnO2)?
    Within the Mousterian record of western Europe, we have evidence for usage of black pigment made from MnO2 by Neandertals (50 000 years old at Pech-de-l'Azé I for instance). I've been using the analogy with the ethnographic record as well as some preliminary experiments to argue that they might have been used as dye stuff/stain (see Soressi et D'Errico, 2007 as well as Soressi et al 2008). Would anybody know of usage of MnO2 pigment for other purposes than body decoration/symbolic purposes?
    Thomas J. Loebel · University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    I recommend reading:

    Mandl 1961 Collagenases and Elastases. Advances in Enzymology 23 164-264

    Velo 1984 Ochre as a Medicine: a Suggestion for the Interpretation of the Archaeological Record, Current Anthropology 25(5)674.

    much work has recently been done documenting the functional use of of minerals in the "ochre" family, ie any of those containing iron oxide or iron hydroxide such as hematite, goethite, and liminonites.

  • Nikolaus Boroffka added an answer:
    Does anybody know red ocher beads from neolithic or other prehistoric periods?

    In the summer of 2014, we discovered a new Eneolithic cemetery at Sultana (Romania), and near one of the skeletons we identified a fragment of red ocher bead.

    Does anybody know other similar artefacts from prehistory or other time periods?

    Thanks in advance.

    Nikolaus Boroffka · Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

    One of my students finished an MA thesis on the various uses of ochre in the Palaeolithic - with some indications on later periods, ethnography, and much other information. The book will probably appear at the beginning of next year, but generally, as has already been mentioned above, there is much incorrect use of "ochre" in archaeology - this may mean a whole range of minerals, indeed mostly of iron-compounds or mixtures. Red colour minerals (mostly haematite) have in fact been used for more than 100.000 years, i.e. from deep in the Palaeolithic, and certainly before the appearance of "modern humans".

    For the Eneolithic in Romania the nearest (in space and time) should be the so called Ochre-Grave culture (also known as Yamnaya), which made use of ochre frequently in burial contexts. Some such burials were found at Brailita in Romania, but more information may be found in the recent book: Ion Motzoi-Chicideanu, Obiceiuri funerare în epoca bronzului la Dunărea Mijlocie şi Inferioară I-II. Editura Academiei Române (Bucureşti 2011), which includes also the Yamnaya burials.

  • Marc Verhaegen added an answer:
    There are quite a few hypotheses to explain early human evolution: Are there ANY that explain the evolution of H. neand. and H. sapience?
    Negative answers will also be appreciated. See Anton and Snodgrass 2012, Wrangham 1999, Ungar 2006, Bunn 2007, Stanford 2001
    Marc Verhaegen · Study Center Anthropology

    Sorry, I forgot 'Homo' in '... when Pleistocene Homo dispersed globally along the coasts ...'

  • Jean-Luc Voisin added an answer:
    What other country/region specific fossil site catalogs have been digitised?
    The fossil site catalog for Italy is a searchable database on the web (http://web.uniba.it/progettiricerca/catalogorestifossili/database/database_en/search_en.html). Is anyone aware of any others? There is the catalog of fossil hominids text from the 70's and some country specific supplements were published in the early 90's, but finding any searchable online databases would be much quicker than using the books.
    Jean-Luc Voisin · French National Centre for Scientific Research

    Hi,

      I have discovered your question today. You might be interested by this database. It is for all the world. I do not know if it is complete, but many sites are recorded yet. This database is in English and Japanese. Please follow this link :

    http://gbs.ur-plaza.osaka-cu.ac.jp/kaseki/

    Best

    Jean-Luc

  • John J. Crandall added an answer:
    What could cause the eburnation on these toe bones?

    This is an old kingdom mummy these are the only bone of the foot I have, cannot understand the cause of this polishing. Sadly the photo does not do it justice.

    John J. Crandall · University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    I'd recommend consulting Tony Waldron's work on Degenerative Joint Disease as this appears to be osteoarthritis. Jurmain's recent summary of joint disease and attempts to link these to activity in "A Companion to Paleopathology" (edited by AL Grauer) may also be helpful. Without large trends by age, sex and other variables, it is hard to say what this might mean in terms of who does what kinds of labor, etc. in any population. As others have noted, this is because OA/DJD are multifactorial and age, sex, and genetics matter. 

  • Chun Liu added an answer:
    Do you think there are some fossilized tools that were judged mistakenly as lithic tools in historic archeology?

    My personal view, hominids could use bones, horns, sticks and so on as tools. Just as these attached in the image.

    Chun Liu · Prehistoric Archaeology

    the evidences are also overlooked.

  • Laura González-Garrido added an answer:
    Are there any articles available on what causes this morphology in the roots of the teeth?
    This is a skeleton of an old kingdom mummy, my colleagues and I had noticed the roots of the teeth mainly in the maxilla have developed these mineral growths. It seems to have occurred primarily on the molars but there are also signs of it on the premolars. We believe this is due to the body reacting with the natron salt.
    Any advice would be helpful.
    Laura González-Garrido · Universidad de León

    Hello Catherine,

    and .... Calculus and Hypercementosis (tooth disorder where excess cementum (bony covering of tooth root) is deposited on the roots of teeth) mixture.

    All the best,

    Laura

  • Chun Liu added an answer:
    Are there any fossilized tools in any museums in the world?
    I'm looking for information on prehistoric hominid tools. If you happen to have any photographs to compare with my collections, I would really appreciate it!
    Chun Liu · Prehistoric Archaeology

    At the same site, another one is the chopped bean cake.

  • Katalin Wolff added an answer:
    Is anyone aware of missing bone elements taken away for research from the collections of Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History?
    We are looking for missing bone parts removed from the parietal bones (25 mm/1 inch diameter) of several individuals skulls' (probably >100) from different populations from the NMNH Smithsonian Institution. They have been removed most likely in the 1950s by a researcher from Middle/Eastern Europe and the purpose of the study as far as we know, was to compare parietal bone thickness among different populations. If you are aware of the existence of these bone elements in your collection or any related articles please let us know! Many thanks!
    Katalin Wolff · Semmelweis University
    Dear Barbara, if you're missing these parts in the same size (mostly or always) from the right parietals approximately from the area of tuber parietale, it is highly likely that they have been collected for the same research! Unfortunately we don't know yet who and from where took away them and we are not aware of any publication related to the topic since probably it has been written on the language of the researcher that time. It would be really nice to find out whether these elements still exist somewhere?! We're working on it!
  • Brian Harms asked a question:
    Is chronic alcohol use recorded in the stable isotope composition of hair?
    In the past, I have heard that alcoholism can be identified via stable isotope analysis (C, N, O, S, H) of human hair. I vaguely recall this being applied to an Andean mummy. Does anyone know of any good papers on this subset of stable isotope ecology?
  • Peter J Richerson added an answer:
    What are your thoughts on the origin of science?
    I recently published my book "The Origin of Science" which can be downloaded at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Louis_Liebenberg/publications/ I am interested in alternative theories on the origin of science and how this debate can lead to a better understanding of how our ability for scientific reasoning evolved.
    Peter J Richerson · University of California, Davis
    I have long been a fan of Louis' idea that tracking requires most of the skills that later led to science. I think one reason why it is such a good example is that it is social and cumulative. Cognitive advances at the individual brain level were probably required for tracking and similar tasks, though proving that may be hard. Chimpanzees and some birds, such as corvids and parrots, seem awfully smart as individuals. What humans have in addition to cognitive "right stuff" is social learning. Neophyte trackers acquire a huge amount of natural history knowledge that has accumulated in expert hunting groups for many generations. Plus, any given tracking exercise is an exercise in social back and forth so that expert trackers collaborate on tough problems. If there is a neophyte with them, he learns from the expert interchanges. Occasionally, some given hunt may lead to a novel observation that is incorporated into the large body of extant natural history.

    I wonder if other tasks in hunter-gatherers make similar demands. What about tool-making, gathering and cooking? Perhaps tracking is just a particularly dramatic example because important decisions have to be made rapidly on the basis of enigmatic evidence and success or failure is evident pretty immediately. I imagine that other tasks use the same skills but in a temporally more drawn-out way.

    My coauthors and I recently wrote a couple of papers arguing for the importance of social learning and cumulative culture in humans:

    Boyd, R., Richerson, P. J., & Henrich, J. (2011). The cultural niche: Why social learning is essential for human adaptation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(Supplement 2), 10918-10925. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100290108

    Smaldino, P. E., & Richerson, P. J. (in press). Human cumulative cultural evolution as a form of distributed computation. In P. Michelucci (Ed.), Handbook of Human Computation. http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/Richerson/smaldino%20richersonhuman%20computation.pdf
  • Luc Bulot added an answer:
    Does anyone have any reference to findings/publications on non-belemnitella genus belemnites in the Maastrichtian of North America's East Coast?
    Recent findings in the area suggest the presence of at least different Genus, apparently closely related to other species of the North European range (same age). I am unable to find any reference in the literature.
    Luc Bulot · Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement
    You should try to contact Prof. Neil Landman at the American Museum of Natural History in New York...

    His web page is the following one :

    http://rggs.amnh.org/faculty/view/14

    He has been working for many years on the cephalopods of the latest Cretaceous of the east Coast of the USA. If there is something to dig out from the literature he should know...

    Hope this helps...
  • Paul Vlachos added an answer:
    Can anyone help ID the ancient cobbles I have found, They have pictures on them and the museums baffled. Made of chert with lawyers of seashell.
    They dipict a launage of their own, the digging is incomplete at the site.
    Paul Vlachos · Mechanicville Art and Science Foundation
    Yes these were a poor choice of photos. Please review my discovery info page on linkedIn.com

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