• Graham John Mullan added an answer:
    Did all or most of the Homo or Australopithecus naledi fossils erode from the breccia in the roof of the naledi cave?

    I just read that the first naledi fossil was a mandible which had collapsed from the breccia above. The morphological comparative evidence is clear IMO: naledi (humanlike plantigrade feet, more flamingo- than ostrich-like) were wetland waders, who collected aquatic herbaceous vegetation (& probably other foods) like lowland gorillas regularly & bonobos occasionally do, but much more frequently: this also explains their bonobo-like features, e.g. the curved manual phalanges (for climbing in the branches above the swamp like bonobos do). When they died in the swamp, their bodies got almost immediately covered with mud, which could explain why the fossils are remarkably complete. But I'm no geologist: the caves below the wetland eroded away, but how exactly could the fossils end up in the Naledi cave?

    Graham John Mullan

    The simple statement that the first Naledi jaw "fell out of the breccia above" implies that there is somewhere below the breccia for the jaw to fall in to. This, again, implies a multi-phase history for the formation of the cave and its sediment fills. Having read such papers as are available I am yet to be convinced that this deposit formed in situ, the pre-requisite for the intentional burial hypotheses.

  • Deborah Swartz added an answer:
    What diseases can cause such changes in the mandible?

    Dear friends! The jaw belongs to a teenager of 15 years, 15 thousand years Paleolithic. What diseases can cause such changes in the mandible (besides scurvy)? 

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    Deborah Swartz

    Just throwing out the idea of infection. Also, soil action can

    imitate pathologies. (My dentist swore, upon seeing an

    excavated mandible, that bone loss was due infection,

    when it could have been due to soil conditions.) Was the

    soil acid? Any plant roots active in the soil?

    Wishing you well

  • Marc Verhaegen added an answer:
    Do coastal macaques have (slightly) thicker tooth enamel than inland macaques or than non-tool-using macaques?

    Are there comparative studies of enamel thickness among Macaca spp & related monkeys? Macaques are omnivores who seem to have dispersed out of Africa along the Indian Ocean coastal forests unto SE.Asia, even Sulawesi. I have hypothesised that mid-Miocene hominoids followed the Indian Ocean coasts (first hylobatids, later pongids) and the Western Tethys coasts (hominids in coastal forests of the archipelagoes of the later Medit.-Black-Caspian Seas). Many early great hominoids had thick enamel, possibly for hard-object feeding (durophagy), which might also explain why all great apes (sometimes or often) use tools. Is durophagy to be expected more frequently in coastal than in inland forests?

    Marc Verhaegen

    Thank you very much, Amanda. I"ve send your answer to our AAT discussion group.

    Some possibly relevant thoughts on durophagy. Alan Shabel found resemblances of the dentition of the robust australopiths with those of Carnivora that eat hard-shelled invertebrates (HSI). Lloyd du Brul OTOH saw convergences between the robust dentition & the giant panda's, e.g. flat broad face, enormous molars, premolar molarisation. Pierre-François Puech (who first studied afarensis' enamel micro-wear electron-microscopically) said the glossy polished appearance of afarensis' enamel suggst they fed on wetland plants (e.g. parts of papyrus sedges according to the paleo-milieu & to isotopic studies); the thick enamel might have been for calorie-poor diets, but possibly also for protecting the enamel against small snails or so living on certain wetland plants? Macaques are omnivores: fruits, insects, crops, young leaves, small animals (incl.HSI). Capuchin monkeys & clawless otters also eat HSI; sometimes they lay the bivalves in the sun, so they can be opened more easily after some time.

  • Vladimir A. Kulchitsky added an answer:
    Why does the H. naledi exhibit this dental morphology?

    What is the reason for size and shaped of the canines and premolars relationship compared with other hominids?

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    Vladimir A. Kulchitsky

    Thank you Marc for the explanation some differences in Dutch-speaking and English spelling.  Because sometimes there are funny situations. As with the interpretation of the archaeological finds. For example, I know that the most valuable finds for archaeologists in the ancient dumps occur. And in regions where there were local disaster (Pompeii, for example). But no one will make a conclusion - let more landfills and disasters for future historians.

  • Azzaldeen Abdulgani added an answer:
    Who is the first anthropologist or researcher who used the term odontometry?

    We know of many pioneering researchers use odontometry as a tool, but does anyone know what person established this term, and the first context of its use? Are there references of this?


    Azzaldeen Abdulgani


  • Gina Alexandra Aldana Portela added an answer:
    Does anyone have information about analysis of phytoliths in dental calculus for forensic purposes?

    It can be identified a corpse by analyzing of phytoliths present in the dental calculus for determine his diet and determine the area where food is consumed, for example, farmers in some area.

    Gina Alexandra Aldana Portela

    Thank everyone for your contributions. Gracias Jaime por tu comentario y contribución, estoy de acuerdo con lo que planteas, solo quería saber si no se me escapaba algún estudio sobre el análisis de  biolitos en el contexto forense. Otra vez, gracias por tu aporte. 

  • 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

    Dear Krishnan Umachandran

    Thank you very much for the information. I am interesting in the information about a fossilized tool extremely. But our government blocks my accessing to the website. So I cannot open the webpage.

  • Rusty Greaves added an answer:
    Can anyone help me in finding literature/references about pregnancy in hunter-gatherer populations?

    I would be interested in getting cross-cultural data about hunter-gatherer/foraging societies in relation to:

    -pregnancy success (natural or induced abortions through pregnancy)

    -mortality at birth (of both women and babies)

    -mortality rate of newborns


    Rusty Greaves

    Abrazos Debora, 

    I'm glad that Tom Headland weighed in, he has great longitudinal data for the Agta. I'm sure you are familiar with the second edition of Nancy Howell's "Demography of the Dobe !Kung" (2000, Aldine de Gruyter, New York) and Kim Hill and M. A. Hurtado's "Ache Life History: The Ecology and Demography of a Foraging People", 1996, Aldine de Gruyter, New York. You probably also have looked at Renee Pennington's Hunter-gatherer demography chapter that compares soem published data in Panter-Brick, C., R. H. Layton, and P. Rowley-Conway (eds), Hunter-Gatherers: An  Interdisciplinary Perspective, pp.170-204, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge You should look at Karen and my Pume paper (2007 Karen L. Kramer and Russell D. Greaves. Changing patterns of infant mortality and fertility among Pumé foragers and horticulturalists. American Anthropologist 109 (4):713-726; or the Spanish version:  2010 Karen L. Kramer and Russell D. Greaves. Cambios en los patrones de mortalidad infantil y fertilidad entre cazadores-recolectores y horticultores Pumé: implicaciones para el crecimiento poblacional y desarrollo sostenible. Antropológica 54 (113):5-41.) Paula Ivey studied Efe ("Pygmy") women and allocare in the mid 1990s, she may have some demographic data, you can say that I suggested you contact her ( If that email does not work I can get you in contact with her another way. Although the Semai data in Alan Fix's study were agricultural at the time of his work, they were a former hunter-gatherers group: A. G. Fix, 1977. The Demography of the Semai Senoi. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Anthropological Paper N0. 62, Ann Arbor. Did you have a chance to ask  Karen about references when you saw her at CHAGS? 

  • Zuzanna Wygnańska added an answer:
    Does anyone know an analogy for chrysoprase beads in the Gulf region?

    We've found a chrysoprase bead in a tumulus grave in Kuwait. The burial is multiple and multi-phase but most of the equipment suggest dating for Neolithic. This bead (biconical, with chamfered perforation) does not look like typical Neolithic ornament from the Gulf region. I have not found any analogy until now, neither from Neolithic nor from the later periods.

    Zuzanna Wygnańska

    Thank you for sharing information about material and techniques from PPNA Syria - this is a useful trail. I'm familiar with Saieziu's publication but still nothing looks like this bead.  It must have been something precious since they deposited only half of the bead in this grave.

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  • Catalin Lazar 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.

    Catalin Lazar

    Dear Stefan,

    Thank you for the information.

    Best wishes,


  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 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

    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 ( 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


      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 :



  • 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

    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.

    + 5 more attachments

    Chun Liu

    the evidences are also overlooked.

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  • k.a Galil 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.
    k.a Galil

     hello: i believe its natron salts. and residues of mummification


    if you look at your picture the original one you will notice several areas same as he one you are describing  and natron slats are famous for doing that. i have an experience with Egyptian mummies and i  have x-rayed all the Royal mummies in Cairo museum with the university of Michigan and Alexandria University in Egypt.

    We published a book by the title of X-raying the pharaohs published by Scribner and i saw items like yours.

    As an oral histologist and Periodontist Professor ,i can see some of my colleagues  think it is an enamel pearl or cementoma or  excementosis ,for the record most cementomas are at the apics of the tooth  not wher it is located in your sample

     true some of what you mention  is in the ares of enamel pearl  and cementomas or excementosis .

    .even x-ray would be hard to identify because of superimposition also not sure if  you can scrape it (but if you can scrape it )neither enamel Pearls and or excementosis  will come out but natron salts will fall off easily and can be analyzed chemically easily 

    natron generally is ;sodium chloride (table salt), sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium sulphate. But there is more than natron in mummification.

    take for example Dr  zaki iskander one of the best archaeologist Egypt  wrote that natron was not the only substance used for mummification  the cranial cavity  was stuffed with resin or linen soaked in resin.

    further more the mummification process used  cinnamon,myrrh,cassia ,linen,linen soaked in resin ,saw dust,natron,and occasionally one onion the hole body was anointed with cedar oil and rubbed with myrrh (from the brief history of ancient egypt by Zaki Iskandr and Alexander Badawi published in Cairo madkur 1965

    other references are 

    Mummies, Disease and Ancient Cultures
    By Aidan Cockburn, Eve Cockburn, Theodore A. Reyman

    Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
    edited by Kathryn A. Bard

    best wishes

    Prof Galil

    DDS.D.,Oral and Max-facial Surg.,Ph.D,FAGD.,FADI.,Cert ,Periodontist (Royal College )

  • 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
    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!
  • Wolfram Meier-Augenstein added an answer:
    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?
    Wolfram Meier-Augenstein

    Would you happen to recall where you might have heard about this? To the best of my knowledge there is no peer reviewed paper published reporting alcoholism having been determined through stable isotope analysis of hair.  The few papers linking a particular stressor or metabolic state (e.g. anorexia nervosa) to a change in hair stable isotope signature vs normal healthy values were always based on a priori knowledge, i.e. only subjects known to suffer from a particular condition were studies and compared to healthy controls. These studies all share a common flaw, namely to conclude / claim stable isotope analysis of <insert element/s of choice here> could be used to detect / diagnose a particular condition.  However, none of these papers ever reported if blinded studies had been carried out and, if what the results were.

    IMCO to analyse hair for stable isotope abundance of CHNOS and to conclude unequivocally observed data are causally linked to alcoholism and nothing else is a stretch to put it mildly.

  • 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 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
    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.
  • 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
    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 :

    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
    Yes these were a poor choice of photos. Please review my discovery info page on

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