[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The late glacial double burial from Bonn-Oberkassel, with its unique combination of finds is one of the most important research sources for the Late Glacial in Central Europe. Due to the large number of questions concerning the find ensemble, late Palaeolithic humans in general, and also due to the approaching 100th anniversary of the discovery, the University of Bonn and the LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn has launched a complete scientific reinvestigation of the find complex. The anthropological studies of the human skeletons provided in addition to their sex and the attained age also answers to the questions of injuries and diseases of the two individuals. Stable isotope analyzes yielded answers to questions about nutrition and to determine the regions where the individuals grew up. With the help of a forensic facial reconstruction method we get an idea of the physical appearance of our ancestors from Oberkassel. The genetic studies on the human skeletons provide further information about their degree of relationship to each other and their phylogenetic position within the populations of Europe; they also help to date the expansion of modern humans out of Africa. Important questions regarding the domestication of wolves could be answered using mtDNA-analysis at the Oberkasseler dog and confirm that the Oberkasseler animal skeleton is a direct ancestor of today’s dogs. Among other things microCT-scans and experimental reconstructions clarified the motive and the material from which the grave goods are made. In 2012 we conducted fieldwork at the site in the quarry in Bonn-Oberkassel, aiming at the location of still undisturbed glacial layers and shifted sediments from the destroyed burial and thus to gain important insights into the chronology and the original site. In fact it might also reveal whether the burial from the Rabenlay is a singular event, part of a repeatedly visited burial site or whether it corresponds to a nearby, as yet undiscovered living site.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The earlier Upper Paleolithic site of Sunghir, northern Russia yielded elaborate burials of an adult and of two immature individuals, dug into the sediments below a rich archeological horizon. The faunal remains and the human burials have yielded a series of radiocarbon dates, raising questions as to the age of the site and whether the burials postdated the archeological remains. Current radiocarbon dates on the human remains place them between 25,000 and 27,500 14 C BP; this age is among the majority of the faunal dates, supporting the stratigraphic and artifactual evidence for contemporaneitys of the burials and the archeological levels. Multiple lines of evidence from the site indicate that the occupation and the burials were during a moderately warm phase of the Interpleniglacial (Marine Isotope Stage 3). Paleoclimatic correlation indicates that they must therefore date to one of the Greenland Interstadials, most likely GI-5 ~28,000 14 C BP. These dates place the Sunghir site and the human burials among the earliest of the Mid Upper Paleolithic elaborate burials currently known.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Anthropologie (Czech Republic)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Le diamètre de la tête fémorale de Regourdou 1 a été estimé à partir des dimensions de la portion ischiatique de l’acétabulum. Cette mesure permet d’estimer certaines variables corporelles et apporte ainsi de nouvelles données sur la taille et les proportions corporelles des hommes du Pléistocène supérieur. L’estimation de ce diamètre s’est faite en deux étapes. Dans un premier temps, une sphère a été virtuellement conformée sur la surface 3D de l’acétabulum ischiatique. Dans un second temps, le diamètre de la tête fémorale a été estimé à partir du diamètre de la sphère acétabulaire grâce à une formule de régression calculée sur un échantillon de référence moderne. La moyenne des résultats obtenus, comme l’étendue des valeurs, place Regourdou 1 parmi les plus petits Néandertaliens (Europe et Asie du Sud-Ouest confondus), bien que cet individu présente une longueur humérale supérieure à la moyenne de ce même échantillon. Ces caractéristiques permettent de rapprocher Regourdou 1 de Kebara 2, ces deux individus présentant des bras relativement longs par rapport à la taille du corps. Ces nouvelles données sont ainsi l’occasion d’enrichir la variation des proportions corporelles chez les Néandertaliens.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Comptes Rendus Palevol
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite numerous sites of great antiquity having been excavated since the end of the 19th century, Middle Pleistocene human fossils are still extremely rare in northwestern Europe. Apart from the two partial crania from Biache-Saint-Vaast in northern France, all known human fossils from this period have been found from ten sites in either Germany or England. Here we report the discovery of three long bones from the same left upper limb discovered at the open-air site of Tourville-la-Rivière in the Seine Valley of northern France. New U-series and combined US-ESR dating on animal teeth produced an age range for the site of 183 to 236 ka. In combination with paleoecological indicators, they indicate an age toward the end of MIS 7. The human remains from Tourville-la-Rivière are attributable to the Neandertal lineage based on morphological and metric analyses. An abnormal crest on the left humerus represents a deltoid muscle enthesis. Micro- and or macro-traumas connected to repetitive movements similar to those documented for professional throwing athletes could be origin of abnormality.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Late Pleistocene archaic humans from western Eurasia (the Neandertals) have been described for a century as exhibiting absolutely and relatively long clavicles. This aspect of their body proportions has been used to distinguish them from modern humans, invoked to account for other aspects of their anatomy and genetics, used in assessments of their phylogenetic polarities, and used as evidence for Late Pleistocene population relationships. However, it has been unclear whether the usual scaling of Neandertal clavicular lengths to their associated humeral lengths reflects long clavicles, short humeri, or both. Neandertal clavicle lengths, along with those of early modern humans and latitudinally diverse recent humans, were compared with both humeral lengths and estimated body masses (based on femoral head diameters). The Neandertal do have long clavicles relative their humeri, even though they fall within the ranges of variation of early and recent humans. However, when scaled to body masses, their humeral lengths are relatively short, and their clavicular lengths are indistinguishable from those of Late Pleistocene and recent modern humans. The few sufficiently complete Early Pleistocene Homo clavicles seem to have relative lengths also well within recent human variation. Therefore, appropriately scaled clavicular length seems to have varied little through the genus Homo, and it should not be used to account for other aspects of Neandertal biology or their phylogenetic status.
Preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human distal thumb phalanx from the earlier Upper Paleolithic of Obłazowa Cave, southern Poland, exhibits features of its palmar surface that align it morphologically principally with early modern humans. These aspects include the configurations of the proximal palmar fossa, the flexor pollicis longus tendon insertion, the proximal margin of the palmar apical tuft, and especially its low ulnar deviation angle. If it is assumed that it possessed the pollical phalangeal length proportions of an early modern human, it would exhibit modest base and tuft breadths. However, given Late Pleistocene archaic-modern contrasts in relative pollical phalanx lengths, the isolated nature of the phalanx prevents secure assessment of its radioulnar interphalangeal articular and apicaltuft hypertrophy. Similar constraints apply to the assessment of other Pleistocene Homo pollical phalanges.
No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · Homo: internationale Zeitschrift fur die vergleichende Forschung am Menschen
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mid Upper Paleolithic immature Sunghir 2 and 3 skeletal remains exhibit non-closure and doubling of several of their cervical vertebral foramina transversaria. Both exhibit non-closure of the atlas (C1) foramina. Sunghir 3 also exhibits foraminal non-closure in her C4 to C5. Sunghir 2 has doubling of the foramen on C4 and C6, whereas Sunghir 3 has it on C4 to C6. The anatomical distribution of these variants places Sunghir 2 and 3 at the limits of recent human cervical vertebral morphological variation. The correspondence between these variants and vascular pathways is unclear, and therefore their implications remain uncertain.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Archaeology Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Late Pleistocene saw the emergence and establishment of early modern humans, and questions remain as to the reasons for their ultimate success relative to late archaic humans. A reassessment of human paleobiology in its Paleolithic context, in light of changes in perspective, chronology, the fossil record, and paleobiological analyses, indicates that there was a mosaic of stasis and change. Aspects related to mobility, energetics, macromammalian subsistence, life history parameters, patterns of stress and survival, and disposal of the dead changed little until well into the Upper Paleolithic. There were marked changes in projectile technology, body decoration, and art with the emergence of the Upper Paleolithic, but they show little correlation with human biological form prior to the early Upper Paleolithic. The only shifts that were associated primarily with early modern humans are reductions in the use of the anatomy for manipulation and in apparent stress levels. Most of the changes seem to be related, directly or indirectly, to modern human population expansion with the early and then mid Upper Paleolithic. Moreover, the prolonged and geochronologically uneven expansion of modern humans from eastern Africa argues for only subtle differences in adaptive effectiveness.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t The hominin teeth and evidence of hominin activities recovered from 1991 to 2005 at the Panxian Dadong site in South China are dated to the late Middle Pleistocene (MIS 8e6 or ca. 130e300 ka), a period for which very little is known about the morphology of Asian populations. The present study provides the first detailed morphometric description and comparisons of four hominin teeth (I 1 , C 1 , P 3 and P 3) from this site. Our study shows that the Panxian Dadong teeth combine archaic and derived features that align them with Middle and Upper Pleistocene fossils from East and West Asia and Europe. These teeth do not display any typical Neanderthal features and they are generally more derived than other con-temporaneous populations from Asia and Africa. However, the derived traits are not diagnostic enough to specifically link the Panxian Dadong teeth to Homo sapiens, a common problem when analyzing the Middle Pleistocene dental record from Africa and Asia. These findings are contextualized in the dis-cussion of the evolutionary course of Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins, and they highlight the ne-cessity of incorporating the Asian fossil record in the still open debate about the origin of H. sapiens.
Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Journal of Human Evolution
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proposed dietary pattern of extinct Late Pleistocene cave bears (Ursus spelaeus Rosenmüller, 1794) has become controversial, as some authors have suggested that they were strictly vegetarian, whereas others maintain they were omnivores that at times ate large amounts of animal protein. We evaluated these alternatives by compiling stable isotope data of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) from the bone collagen of adult European cave bears from the Late Pleistocene (Marine Isotopic Stage 3). The data include previously published analyses and additional data from the southeastern European (Carpathian) sites of Cioclovina, Muierii, Oase, and Urşilor. The cave bear isotopic values from bone collagen were compared with those from hair keratin occurring in grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis Ord, 1815) collected from 1989 to 2009 in the western United States (Yellowstone National Park). The Yellowstone bears have access to a wide diversity of plants and animals, such that their diets can range from vegetarian to carnivorous. Thus, there was considerable δ13C and δ15N variation among the grizzly bear isotopic values, and the cave bear isotopic variation was encompassed within the overall grizzly bear isotopic distribution. More importantly, the δ15N distributions, reflecting principally trophic level, were not different between the cave bears and the grizzly bears; the cave bear values are, on average, slightly higher or lower than those of the grizzly bears, depending on the criteria for inclusion in the comparisons. It is therefore no longer appropriate to view Late Pleistocene cave bears as strictly or even predominantly vegetarian but as flexible omnivores within their diverse communities.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Canadian Journal of Zoology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report here a neurocranial abnormality previously undescribed in Pleistocene human fossils, an enlarged parietal foramen (EPF) in the early Late Pleistocene Xujiayao 11 parietal bones from the Xujiayao (Houjiayao) site, northern China. Xujiayao 11 is a pair of partial posteromedial parietal bones from an adult. It exhibits thick cranial vault bones, arachnoid granulations, a deviated posterior sagittal suture, and a unilateral (right) parietal lacuna with a posteriorly-directed and enlarged endocranial vascular sulcus. Differential diagnosis indicates that the perforation is a congenital defect, an enlarged parietal foramen, commonly associated with cerebral venous and cranial vault anomalies. It was not lethal given the individual's age-at-death, but it may have been associated with secondary neurological deficiencies. The fossil constitutes the oldest evidence in human evolution of this very rare condition (a single enlarged parietal foramen). In combination with developmental and degenerative abnormalities in other Pleistocene human remains, it suggests demographic and survival patterns among Pleistocene Homo that led to an elevated frequency of conditions unknown or rare among recent humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Gruta da Oliveira is a Middle Paleolithic site discovered in 1989 in the framework of the speleo-
-archeological exploration of the karstic system associated with the spring of the Almonda River. Removal
of the thick brecciated rubble that sealed its collapsed entrance allowed excavation, between 1992 and 2012, of
the underlying, ~9 m -thick archeological stratification. Besides lithic assemblages in flint, quartz and quartzite
totaling >25,000 objects, Neandertal skeletal remains, and hearth features, the deposit also yielded abundant
microfaunal, faunal and wood charcoal remains. Dated to the ~35 -105 ka interval by Radiocarbon, Uranium-
-Thorium and Thermoluminescence, the Gruta da Oliveira is a reference succession for the paleoenvironmental
and paleoanthropological study of the Upper Pleistocene of Iberia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Pestera cu Oase is a sealed limestone cavern in southwestern Romania which served principally as a hibernation den for Pleistocene cave bears and wolves, but also contained the fossil remains of the earliest modern humans in Europe. Currently inaccessible except through cave diving and rock climbing, the cave preserved its contents undisturbed for tens of thousands of years. To understand the cave, its contents, the bear and wolves, and especially the humans, an international team mapped and excavated the Pestera cu Oase from 2002 to 2005, and has since analyzed its remains in detail. The result was a wealth of information on the geology and paleontology of this cave as a reflection of life in the southwestern Carpathians 40-50 thousand years ago. This volume presents those findings. Among other things, the large cave bears provided the first solid evidence of the omnivorous nature of these not-so-gentle giants. The deer remains brought into the cave by wolves are among the largest known in Europe and document the westernmost extent of the eastern (wapiti) variant of this species. And the human remains, a complete lower jaw of a young adult and a largely complete skull of an adolescent, furhish detailed information on the anatomy of the earliet modern Europeans, who were modern without being fully modern. They combine an overall distinctly modern anatomy with traits reminescent of earlier archaic humans and among the largest rear molars in the genus Homo. They thus document the initial spread of modern humans into the cul-de-sac of Europe, the complex ancestry of those humans, and the ongoing nature of human evolution after the established of people like ourselves.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cet article décrit une branche mandibulaire humaine du Pléistocène supérieur ancien trouvée à Xujiayao (Chine du Nord). La pièce porte des caractères dont la distribution varie parmi les groupes attribués à Homo et issus de l’Ouest de l’ancien monde, mais aussi entre les hommes archaïques du Pléistocène ancien et moyen et les hommes modernes du Pléistocène supérieur d’Asie de l’Est. Dans le détail, Xujiayao 14 présente une incisure mandibulaire en position latérale par rapport au condyle, un foramen mandibulaire en forme de V, une branche large, une incisure mandibulaire asymétrique, un tubercule ptérygoïdien médial supérieur développé, un probable espace rétromolaire et une éversion goniaque, ainsi qu’une dépression peu commune dans le planum triangulare. Les deux premiers traits semblent être primitifs pour les représentants tardifs du genre Homo et sont prédominants chez les hommes modernes. Les deux caractères suivants séparent nettement Xujiayao 14 et les représentants primitifs du genre Homo des hommes modernes. Les cinquième et sixième caractères sont les plus fréquents chez les Néandertaliens, alors que l’ éversion goniaque tranche avec les Néandertaliens du Pléistocène supérieur. Xujiayao 14, considéré dans le contexte à la fois des représentants récents et du Pléistocène du genre Homo et des autres restes humains de Xujiayao, présente une mosaïque morphologique qui met en évidence l’existence d’une variabilité régionale au cours du Pléistocène.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Comptes Rendus Palevol
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 1995 Berger and Trinkaus (J. Archaeol. Sci. 22, 841–852) proposed that the anatomical distribution of Neandertal trauma, with a predominance of upper body lesions, reflected close-quarter ambush hunting as dictated by the available Middle Paleolithic weaponry (the “Rodeo rider” hypothesis). The necessity for mobility among these Late Pleistocene foragers, as a factor possibly reducing the number of preserved lower limb injuries, was considered as an alternative explanation. The accumulating data on Upper Paleolithic injuries and Middle Paleolithic weaponry, considerations of differential skeletal susceptibility of minor trauma, and evidence of interhuman violence, plus the importance of mobility for Late Pleistocene human existence, suggest that hunting injuries may explain only part of the pattern. The purpose of this note is not to resolve to ultimate factors behind the anatomical distribution of traumatic lesions among the Neandertals (or early modern humans). It is 1) to emphasize that there are multiple probable contributing factors other than close-quarter ambush hunting due to the limitations of Middle Paleolithic weaponry, and 2) to open the discussion to alternative interpretations.
No preview · Article · Dec 2012 · Journal of Archaeological Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The biomechanical characterization of lower limb long bones in the chrono-ecogeographically diverse species Homo erectus is a fundamental step for assessing evolutionary changes in locomotor mode and body shape that occurred within the genus Homo. However, the samples available for the Early and earlier Middle Pleistocene are small and widely scattered in time and space, thus limiting our understanding of the nature and polarity of morphological trends. Compared to the African fossil record, loading histories based on detailed biomechanical assessment of diaphyseal strength in Indonesian H. erectus lower limb long bones have not been assessed. By using a microtomographic record (μCT), we performed a quantitative analysis of the biomechanical properties and structural organization of Kresna 11, a late Early Pleistocene adult H. erectus femoral shaft from the Sangiran Dome, Central Java. Relative to the modern human condition, Kresna 11 shows the predominant mediolateral cortical thickening (hypertrophy) and the distal displacement of the minimum diaphyseal breadth characteristic of early Homo femora, associated nonetheless with relatively modest cortical thickness within the mid-proximal portion. Synthetic functional imaging of the shaft through the planar representation of its inner structure has revealed distal thickening of the medial cortex, a feature previously unreported in H. erectus. The increase in relative mediolateral bending strength observed in Kresna 11 supports the hypothesis that, rather than simply reflecting differences in patterns of locomotor loading, biomechanical properties of the femoral shaft in archaic Homo are strongly influenced by body shape, i.e., variations in pelvic breadth and femoral neck length.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of Human Evolution