Marcia S. Ponce de León

Marcia S. Ponce de León
University of Zurich | UZH · Department of Informatics - IFI

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109
Publications
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Publications

Publications (109)
Article
Full-text available
Fossils and artifacts from Herto, Ethiopia, include the most complete child and adult crania of early Homo sapiens . The endocranial cavities of the Herto individuals show that by 160,000 y ago, brain size, inferred from endocranial size, was similar to that seen in modern human populations. However, endocranial shape differed from ours. This gave...
Article
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It has long been believed that climate shifts during the last 2 million years had a pivotal role in the evolution of our genus Homo1–3. However, given the limited number of representative palaeo-climate datasets from regions of anthropological interest, it has remained challenging to quantify this linkage. Here, we use an unprecedented transient Pl...
Article
Significance During human birth, the risk of complications is relatively high because of the comparatively large dimensions of the fetal head and shoulders relative to the maternal birth canal. Here we show that humans exhibit a developmental mode of the shoulders that likely contributes to mitigating obstetrical problems. Human shoulder growth is...
Article
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Toward the end of the Pleistocene, archaic humans in Eurasia such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans were completely replaced by anatomically modern humans dispersing from Africa. The causes underlying the replacement and extinction processes remain controversial, especially regarding the relative importance of random events, and anthropogenic and...
Article
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Brain evolution in early Homo Human brains are larger than and structurally different from the brains of the great apes. Ponce de León et al. explored the timing of the origins of the structurally modern human brain (see the Perspective by Beaudet). By comparing endocasts, representations of the inner surface of fossil brain cases, from early Homo...
Article
During the last International Congress of Paleobotany and Palynology (Dublin, 2018), participants discussed Paleoecology through the lens of Art and Science. These talks identified an urgent need for a more synergistic interaction between the visual arts and the sciences. Importantly, such consilience could inform research. This is because, while f...
Article
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Ontogenetic studies provide clues for understanding important paleobiological aspects of extinct species. When compared to that of modern humans, the adult Neanderthal thorax was shorter, deeper, and wider. This is related to the wide Neanderthal body and is consistent with their hypothetical large requirements for energy and oxygen. Whether these...
Article
Objectives The bony labyrinth of the inner ear has special relevance when tracking phenotypic evolution because it is often well preserved in fossil and modern primates. Here we track the evolution of the bony labyrinth of anthropoid primates during the Mio−Plio−Pleistocene—the time period that gave rise to the extant great apes and humans. Materi...
Article
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Throughout hominin evolution, the brain of our ancestors underwent a 3-fold increase in size and substantial structural reorganization. However, inferring brain reorganization from fossil hominin neurocrania (=braincases) remains a challenge, above all because comparative data relating brain to neurocranial structures in living humans and great ape...
Article
The study of migration within the Roman Empire has been a focus of the bioarchaeological and biogeochemical research during the last decade. The possible association of diet and sex, age, and funerary treatment during the 1st-4th centuries CE have been extensively explored in Britain, and Central-Southern Italy. Conversely, no knowledge is availabl...
Article
Hitherto unpublished ¹⁴ C and ²³⁰ Th[sbnd] ²³⁴ U determinations from Carihuela Cave (Granada province, Andalusia, Spain) raise a possibility of late survival here of Neanderthals and their Mousterian technocomplex into an advanced stage of the Late Pleistocene (MIS-3), when anatomically-modern humans with Upper Palaeolithic toolkits were penetratin...
Article
During several consecutive excavations from the 1950s to the 1990s the cave of Carigüela de Píñar (Granada, Baetic System, Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula) has yielded an important sample of Neanderthal fossils. Among these finds is a fragmentary frontal bone of an immature individual (CE-05877), which was described earlier. Here we present a ne...
Article
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The present study attempted to reconstruct 3D brain shape of Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens based on computational neuroanatomy. We found that early Homo sapiens had relatively larger cerebellar hemispheres but a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum than Neanderthals long before the time that Neanderthals disappeared. Further, using behavi...
Article
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The dispersal of modern humans from Africa is now well documented with genetic data that track population history, as well as gene flow between populations. Phenetic skeletal data, such as cranial and pelvic morphologies, also exhibit a dispersal-from-Africa signal, which, however, tends to be blurred by the effects of local adaptation and in vivo...
Article
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The cavity system of the inner ear—the so-called bony labyrinth—houses the senses of balance and hearing. This structure is embedded in dense petrous bone, fully formed by birth and generally well preserved in human skeletal remains, thus providing a rich source of morphological information about past populations. Here we show that labyrinthine mor...
Article
The only direct source of information about hominin brain evolution comes from the fossil record of endocranial casts (endocasts) that reproduce details of the external morphology of the brain imprinted on the walls of the braincase during life. Surface traces of sulci that separate the brain's convolutions (gyri) are reproduced sporadically on ear...
Article
Objectives: The effects of phylogeny and locomotor behavior on long bone structural proportions are assessed through comparisons between adult and ontogenetic samples of extant gorillas. Materials and methods: A total of 281 wild-collected individuals were included in the study, divided into four groups that vary taxonomically and ecologically:...
Article
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Inferring the morphology of the last common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas is a matter of ongoing debate. Recent findings and reassessment of fossil hominins leads to the hypothesis that the last common ancestor was not extant African ape-like. However, an African great-ape-like ancestor with knuckle walking features still remains pla...
Article
Pelvic sexual dimorphism in primates is typically seen as the result of female-specific adaptations to obstetric constraints, which arise from the tight fit between the neonate head and the maternal pelvis. However, it remains debated to which extent pelvic dimorphism is a correlate of obstetric constraints, of body size dimorphism, and/or of other...
Article
The bony pelvis of primates is a composite structure serving a variety of functions, and exhibiting a complex pattern of modularity and integration. Still little is known, however, about how patterns of modularity and integration arise, and how they change throughout ontogeny. Here we study the ontogeny of modularity and integration in developmenta...
Article
A fifth hominin skull (cranium D4500 and mandible D2600) from Dmanisi is massively constructed, with a large face and a very small brain. Traits documented for the first time in a basal member of the Homo clade include the uniquely low ratio of endocranial volume to basicranial width, reduced vertex height, angular vault profile, smooth nasal sill...
Article
Because brains do not fossilize, the internal surface of the braincase (endocast) serves as an important source of information about brain growth, development, and evolution. Recent studies of endocranial morphology and development in great apes, fossil hominins, and modern humans have revealed taxon-specific differences. However, it remains to be...
Article
While the braincase of adult Neanderthals had a similar volume to that of modern humans from the same period, differences in endocranial shape suggest that brain morphology differed between modern humans and Neanderthals. When and how these differences arose during evolution and development is a topic of ongoing research, with potential implication...
Article
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The bony pelvis of adult humans exhibits marked sexual dimorphism, which is traditionally interpreted in the framework of the "obstetrical dilemma" hypothesis: Giving birth to large-brained/large-bodied babies requires a wide pelvis, whereas efficient bipedal locomotion requires a narrow pelvis. This hypothesis has been challenged recently on biome...
Article
Objectives: Due to the scarcity of the fossil record, in vivo changes in the dentognathic system of early Homo are typically documented at the level of individual fossil specimens, and it remains difficult to draw population-level inferences about dietary habits, diet-related activities and lifestyle from individual patterns of dentognathic altera...
Article
We describe a new computer reconstruction to obtain complete anatomical information of the ecto- and endocranium from the imperfectly preserved skull of the Neanderthal Amud 1. Data were obtained from computed tomography scans of the fossil cranium. Adhesive and plaster were then virtually removed from the original specimen, and the fragments compr...
Research
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How and when the Americas were populated remains contentious. Using ancient and modern genome-wide data, we find that the ancestors of all present-day Native Americans, including Athabascans and Amerindians, entered the Americas as a single migration wave from Siberia no earlier than 23 thousand years ago (KYA), and after no more than 8,000-year is...
Article
Full-text available
How and when the Americas were populated remains contentious. Using ancient and modern genome-wide data, we found that the ancestors of all present-day Native Americans, including Athabascans and Amerindians, entered the Americas as a single migration wave from Siberia no earlier than 23 thousand years ago (ka) and after no more than an 8000-year i...
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Kennewick Man, referred to as the Ancient One by Native Americans, is a male human skeleton discovered in Washington state (USA) in 1996 and initially radiocarbon-dated to 8,340-9,200 calibrated years before present (bp). His population affinities have been the subject of scientific debate and legal controversy. Based on an initial study of cranial...
Article
INTRODUCTION: The consensus view on the peopling of the Americas is that ancestors of modern Native Americans entered the Americas from Siberia via the Bering Land Bridge and that this occurred at least ~14.6 thousand years ago (ka). However, the number and timing of migrations into the Americas remain controversial, with conflicting interpretation...
Article
Kennewick Man, referred to as the Ancient One by Native Americans, is a male human skeleton discovered in Washington state (USA) in 1996 and initially radiocarbon dated to 8,340-9,200 calibrated years before present (BP). His population affinities have been the subject of scientific debate and legal controversy. Based on an initial study of cranial...
Article
Proximal femoral morphology and associated musculature are of special relevance to the understanding of hominoid locomotor systems. Knowledge of bone–muscle correspondence in extant hominoids forms an important comparative basis for inferring structure–function relationships in fossil hominids. However, there is still a lack of consensus on the cor...
Article
Survey studies of osteoarchaeological collections occasionally yield specimens exhibiting rare skeletal developmental disorders. Beyond paleopathological diagnosis, however, it is often difficult to gain insight into the processes, mechanisms, and consequences of the pathology, notably because archaeological specimens are often fragmentary. Here we...
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Studies comparing phenotypic variation with neutral genetic variation in modern humans have shown that genetic drift is a main factor of evolutionary diversification among populations. The genetic population history of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees and bonobos, is now equally well documented, but phenotypic variation among these tax...
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Schwartz et al. hold that variation among the Dmanisi skulls reflects taxic diversity. The morphological observations to support their hypothesis, however, are partly incorrect, and not calibrated against intraspecific variation in living taxa. After proper adjustment, Schwartz et al.’s data are fully compatible with the hypothesis of a single pale...
Article
Paleopathological cases of skeletal dysplasias (SD) are particularly interesting from a biological as well as biocultural perspective. Evidence of SD is relevant when discussing the antiquity of specific mutations, as well as the social perception of disease in the past. Here we propose a differential diagnosis for a Neolithic case of SD and discus...
Article
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The site of Dmanisi, Georgia, has yielded an impressive sample of hominid cranial and postcranial remains, documenting the presence of Homo outside Africa around 1.8 million years ago. Here we report on a new cranium from Dmanisi (D4500) that, together with its mandible (D2600), represents the world's first completely preserved adult hominid skull...
Article
The Plio-Pleistocene hominin sample from Dmanisi (Georgia), dated to 1.77 million years ago, is unique in offering detailed insights into patterns of morphological variation within a paleodeme of early Homo. Cranial and dentoalveolar morphologies exhibit a high degree of diversity, but the causes of variation are still relatively unexplored. Here w...
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In this paper, we report on the theoretical foundations, empirical context and technical implementation of an agent-based modeling (ABM) framework, that uses a high-performance computing (HPC) approach to investigate human population dynamics on a global scale, and on evolutionary time scales. The ABM-HPC framework provides an in silico testbed to...
Article
The brain of modern humans is an evolutionary and developmental outlier: At birth, it has the size of an adult chimpanzee brain and expands by a factor of 2 during the first postnatal year. Large neonatal brain size and rapid initial growth contrast with slow maturation, which extends well into adolescence. When, how, and why this peculiar pattern...
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Acquisition of bipedality is a hallmark of human evolution. How bipedality evolved from great ape-like locomotor behaviors, however, is still highly debated. This is mainly because it is difficult to infer locomotor function, and even more so locomotor kinematics, from fossil hominin long bones. Structure-function relationships are complex, as long...
Data
Correlation between taxon-specific means of shape component scores and means of neonatal body mass (data summarized in Table S1; humans: filled circles, chimpanzees: open circles, gorillas: filled squares, orangutans: open squares). SC1 is weakly correlated with neonatal body mass (p = 0.06, R2 = 0.88) (A). SC2, which distinguishes between human-ch...
Data
Correlation between femoral diaphyseal shape component scores (SC1, SC2) and femoral size (humans: filled circles, chimpanzees: open circles, gorillas: filled squares, orangutans: open squares). Shape component scores are plotted against femoral diaphyseal length (A), and median femoral diaphyseal cross-sectional area (B). Each cross-sectional area...
Data
Principle of morphometric mapping. A, 3D representation of the right femur. B, principle of cylindrical projection (anterior [0°] → medial [90°] → posterior [180°] → lateral [270°] → anterior [0°]). (TIF)
Article
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The type specimen for Australopithecus africanus (Taung) includes a natural endocast that reproduces most of the external morphology of the right cerebral hemisphere and a fragment of fossilized face that articulates with the endocast. Despite the fact that Taung died between 3 and 4 y of age, the endocast reproduces a small triangular-shaped remna...
Article
The proximal femoral morphology of fossil hominins is routinely interpreted in terms of muscular topography and associated locomotor modes. However, the detailed correspondence between hard and soft tissue structures in the proximal femoral region of extant great apes is relatively unknown, because dissection protocols typically do not comprise in-...
Article
Long bone shafts (diaphyses) serve as load-bearing structures during locomotion, implying a close relationship between diaphyseal form and its locomotor function. Diaphyseal form-function relationships, however, are complex, as they are mediated by various factors such as developmental programs, evolutionary adaptation, and functional adaptation th...
Article
Variation in floral shape is of major interest to evolutionary and pollination biologists, plant systematists and developmental geneticists. Quantifying this variation has been difficult due to the three-dimensional (3D) complexity of angiosperm flowers. By combining 3D geometric representations of flowers obtained by micro-computed tomography scan...
Article
The Dmanisi hominins inhabited a northern temperate habitat in the southern Caucasus, approximately 1.8 million years ago. This is the oldest population of hominins known outside of Africa. Understanding the set of anatomical and behavioral traits that equipped this population to exploit their seasonal habitat successfully may shed light on the sel...
Article
A medial cuneiform exhibiting complete bipartition was discovered at the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. The specimen is the oldest known instance of this anatomical variant in the hominin fossil record. Here we compare developmental variation of the medial cuneiform in fossil hominins, extant humans and great apes, and discuss potentia...
Article
The cavity system of the inner ear of mammals is a complex three-dimensional structure that houses the organs of equilibrium and hearing. Morphological variation of the inner ear across mammals reflects differences in locomotor behaviour and hearing performance, and the good preservation of this structure in many fossil specimens permits analogous...
Article
Amphipithecids assume a key position in early primate evolution in Asia. Here we report on new maxillofacial and associated mandibular remains of Siamopithecus eocaenus, an amphipithecid primate from the Late Eocene of Krabi (Thailand) that currently represents the most complete specimen belonging to this group. We used synchrotron microtomography...
Article
Since the beginnings of paleoanthropology, immature fossil hominin specimens have marked important but highly contested cornerstones of research. Long deemed as not representative of a fossil species' morphology, immature hominins are now in the center of scientific attention, and an increasing interest in evolutionary developmental questions has m...
Chapter
Computer assisted paleoanthropology (CAP) is a new discipline that emerged with the advent of novel techniques in the fields of biomedical imaging, computer graphics, rapid prototyping, and geometric-morphometric analysis. The major reason to bundle these disciplines into a coherent transdisciplinary approach is to tackle a central problem of paleo...
Article
Mid-late Pleistocene fossil hominins such as Homo neanderthalensis and H. heidelbergensis are often described as having extensively pneumatized crania compared with modern humans. However, the significance of pneumatization in recognizing patterns of phyletic diversification and/or functional specialization has remained controversial. Here, we test...
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From birth to adulthood, the human brain expands by a factor of 3.3, compared with 2.5 in chimpanzees [DeSilva J and Lesnik J (2006) Chimpanzee neonatal brain size: Implications for brain growth in Homo erectus. J Hum Evol 51: 207–212]. How the required extra amount of human brain growth is achieved and what its implications are for human life hist...
Article
Während etwas 200 000 Jahren haben auf unserem Planeten zwei nahe verwandte Menschenarten gelebt: Homo neanderthalensis in Europa, West- und Zentralasien bis Sibirien, Homo sapiens in Afrika. Vor etwa 40 000 Jahren, zu Beginn der letzten Eiszeit, erscheint Homo sapiens auch in Europa und trifft dort auf die seit langem ansässigen Neandertaler. Was...