Friday, May 17, 2019

Ancient DNA from mastics solidifies connection between material culture and genetics of mesolithic hunter–gatherers in Scandinavia

Natalija Kashuba, Emrah Kırdök, Hege Damlien, Mikael A. Manninen, Bengt Nordqvist, Per Persson & Anders Götherström
Communications Biology 
volume 2, Article number: 185 (2019)
(Link)

Abstract

Human demography research in grounded on the information derived from ancient DNA and archaeology. For example, the study on the early postglacial dual-route colonisation of the Scandinavian Peninsula is largely based on associating genomic data with the early dispersal of lithic technology from the East European Plain. However, a clear connection between material culture and genetics has been lacking. Here, we demonstrate that direct connection by analysing human DNA from chewed birch bark pitch mastics. These samples were discovered at Huseby Klev in western Sweden, a Mesolithic site with eastern lithic technology. We generated genome-wide data for three individuals, and show their affinity to the Scandinavian hunter–gatherers. Our samples date to 9880-9540 calBP, expanding the temporal range and distribution of the early Scandinavian genetic group. We propose that DNA from ancient mastics can be used to study environment and ecology of prehistoric populations.

Archaeologists find DNA in a 10,000-year-old piece of chewing gum: The DNA sheds light on how people moved into Scandinavia after the Ice Age

Kiona N. Smith
Arstechnica
5/17/2019
(Link)

"Based on the tools and other hints that these people also left behind, it seems that people converged on Scandinavia from two directions as the ice sheets receded. One group migrated northward from western Europe, while another migrated southwest from the plains of modern-day Russia. These two groups of people each had their own unique ways of making stone tools, which is how archaeologists have managed to tell their sites apart and trace their migration paths."

"The people who came from Russia, for example, brought a technology called pressure flaking, which involves using a pointed stick or bone to break off small flakes from the edge of a stone tool, creating a sharp blade. Over time, this new eastern pressure-flaking technology eventually replaced the older western European techniques."

"When these two populations of hunter-gatherers met in Scandinavia, they seem to have intermarried. Over time, the mixing of their gene pools created a new population, which anthropologists call Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (anthropologists are not widely known for creative naming schemes). We know this from DNA from human remains several centuries younger than the site at Huseby-Kiev."

"The gum at Huseby-Kiev is the oldest human DNA ever recovered from Scandinavia, and it sheds some light on the time when these populations were first encountering each other."

Related posts:

Mesolithic Western European Hunter Gatherers Partly Descended from Upper Paleolithic Reindeer Hunters
(Link)

The Paleolithic-Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Northern Europe, the Russian Steppe and Armenia (Link)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Generativity, hierarchical action and recursion in the technology of the Acheulean to Middle Palaeolithic transition: A perspective from Patpara, the Son Valley, India

C. Shipton, C. Clarkson, J.N. Pal, S.C. Jones, R.G. Roberts, C. Harris, M.C. Gupta, P.W. Ditchfield, M.D. Petraglia
Journal of Human Evolution
Volume 65, Issue 2, 
August 2013, 
Pages 93-108
(Link)

Abstract

The Acheulean to Middle Palaeolithic transition is one of the most important technological changes that occurs over the course of human evolution. Here we examine stone artefact assemblages from Patpara and two other excavated sites in the Middle Son Valley, India, which show a mosaic of attributes associated with Acheulean and Middle Palaeolithic industries. The bifaces from these sites are very refined and generally small, but also highly variable in size. A strong relationship between flake scar density and biface size indicates extensive differential resharpening. There are relatively low proportions of bifaces at these sites, with more emphasis on small flake tools struck from recurrent Levallois cores. The eventual demise of large bifaces may be attributed to the curation of small prepared cores from which sharper, or more task-specific flakes were struck. Levallois technology appears to have arisen out of adapting aspects of handaxe knapping, including shaping of surfaces, the utilization of two inter-dependent surfaces, and the striking of invasive thinning flakes. The generativity, hierarchical organization of action, and recursion evident in recurrent Levallois technology may be attributed to improvements in working memory.

Monday, May 13, 2019

26Al/10Be Burial Dating of the Middle Pleistocene Yiyuan Hominin Fossil Site, Shandong Province, Northern China

Yun Guo, Chengkai Sun, Lan Luo, Linlin Yang, Fei Han, Hua Tu, Zhongping Lai, Hongchen Jiang, Christopher J. Bae, Guanjun Shen & Darryl Granger
Scientific Reports (Nature)
Volume 9, Article number: 6961 (2019)
(Link)

Abstract

The Yiyuan hominin fossil site is one of the few localities in China where a partial skullcap and several loose teeth of Homo erectus have been discovered. Yiyuan was previously assigned broadly to the Middle Pleistocene by bio-stratigraphical correlation and ESR/U-series dating. Here, we report the first application of a radio-isotopic dating method to the site. 26Al/10Be burial dating results derived from two sand samples from the fossiliferous deposits show that the hominin fossils can be confidently dated to 0.64 ± 0.08 Ma (million years ago). The reliability of this age is supported by the zero age of modern fluvial sediment near the cave. Our result is consistent with the age estimation based on biostratigraphic correlation and supports the argument that the Yiyuan and Zhoukoudian Locality 1 H. erectus fossils are contemporaneous. The results presented here, along with other recent chronological studies on Chinese Middle Pleistocene hominin sites, indicate that the time span from 600–400 ka (thousand years ago) is a critical period for human evolution in East Asia. Importantly, this time bracket includes several major climatic changes that would have influenced hominins, both morphologically and behaviorally.

The Krapina Neandertal Site: Using Dental Metrics To Determine Population Variability In Neandertals

Brian A. Keeling
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Krapina is a Neandertal rockshelter site dating back to 130,000 ± 10,000BP located in Northern Croatia. This site was discovered over a century ago by Karl Gorjanović-Kramberger and remains the largest amount of Neandertal skeletal remains ever found in a single site. This large assemblage is excellent for investigating issues of sample variation. This study analyzed dental metrics, specifically the buccolingual diameter of each tooth to determine if the hypothesis that Krapina represents a distinct Neandertal “population” among Neandertals is supported. A total of sixteen comparative sites were compiled to best determine the relationship of Krapina to human populations and other groups of genus Homo. Variation was analyzed through comparisons of the coefficient of variation and from several statistical significance tests. The results of this study determined that Krapina was too variable to be a Neandertal population. The critical dental element, the first and second molars, demonstrate a level of variation not significantly different from that of the full Neandertal sample used. However, Krapina does show some features and variation in other elements that suggest some genetic continuity at the site. Krapina’s high within-sample variation is likely attributable to the probably 10,000-year span of occupation at the site and to the possibility of extensive interbreeding with other Neandertal groups during the long period of the rockshelter’s use.

A consideration of the ‘anomalous’ narial margin patterning in the Krapina Neandertal maxillae

Robert G. Franciscus
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Nearly every anatomical aspect of the extensive Krapina Neandertal sample has been studied or incorporated into numerous publications since its initial description over a century ago – including many contributions by Erik Trinkaus. However, one key feature, the narial margin (NM) configuration on the inferior border of the nasal aperture, has not been sufficiently considered. Here, the original remains of the relevant Krapina maxillary sample (n=4), and the broader available Neandertal sample, augmented in a few instances by casts and published images (n=29), are compared. I employed a detailed 7-category NM crest coding system, as well as a simpler, dichotomized category system contrasting presence vs. absence of nasal guttering. All four of the sufficiently preserved Krapina maxillae show a separate lateral crest with some level of NM guttering, and the two most complete possess a category-3 configuration where the turbinal and spinal crests are fused and collectively delineate the NM border separately from the lateral crest. This precise pattern is found in no other Neandertals across their known range which possess, instead, either a single, sharp, amalgamated crest, or one in which the lateral crest contributes significantly to the demarcation of the NM. The Krapina NM pattern is closer to that found in putative Neandertal lineage precursors (e.g., Sima de Los Huesos), and many Early- to Mid-Pleistocene Homo fossils across Africa and Eurasia, likely reflecting the primitive condition for Homo. The Krapina NM configuration, anomalous among Neandertals, raises important questions of chronology and paleobiology in this important hominin sample.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spectrum of Neandertal introgression across modern-day humans indicates multiple episodes of human-Neandertal interbreeding

Fernando A. Villanea and Joshua G. Schraiber
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Neandertals and anatomically modern humans overlapped geographically for a period of over 30,000 years following human migration out of Africa. During this period, Neandertals and humans interbred, as evidenced by Neandertal portions of the genome carried by non-African individuals today. A key observation is that the proportion of Neandertal ancestry is 12-20% higher in East Asian individuals relative to European individuals. Here, we explore various demographic models that could explain this observation. These include distinguishing between a single admixture event and multiple Neandertal contributions to either population, and the hypothesis that reduced Neandertal ancestry in modern Europeans resulted from more recent admixture with a ghost population that lacked a Neandertal ancestry component (the 'dilution' hypothesis). In order to summarize the asymmetric pattern of Neandertal allele frequencies, we compile the joint fragment frequency spectrum (FFS) of European and East Asian Neandertal fragments and compare it to both analytical theory and data simulated under various models of admixture. Using maximum likelihood and machine learning, we found that a simple model of a single admixture does not fit the empirical data and instead favor a model of multiple episodes of gene flow into both European and East Asian populations. These findings indicate more long-term, complex interaction between humans and Neandertals than previously appreciated.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Looking for Neandertal derived traits: new data from the Le Moustier 2 Neandertal neonate (Le Moustier, France)

Bruno Maueille, Caroline Partiot
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Le Moustier lower Rock-shelter is a well known Prehistoric Mousterian site from Périgord Noir. Discovered in 1907 and excavated first by the Swiss antiquary Otto Hauser, who found Le Moustier 1 juvenile fossil (1908), then by Denis Peyrony who discovered Le Moustier 2 perinate Neandertal (1914), the upper half of its archaeostratography presents a succession of well dated Late Mousterian layers (MIS 3) successfully excavated and studied by Brad Gravina and Emmanuel Discamps since 2014.

Erik Trinkaus is the International Paleoanthropologist who has devoted an important part of his scientific life to the description of Upper Pleistocene human lineage morphological variabilities as well as discussions on the phylogenic interest of Neandertal traits (for example, the Neandertal upper face (Rak 1986 versus Trinkaus 1987)). But, he did not have the opportunity to study the two Le Moustier specimens (even if he recently underlined differences between results obtained on Le Moustier 2 and Mezmaiskaya 1 neonates (Weaver et al., 2016) compared to the ones on Kiik-Koba 2 juvenile Neandertal (Trinkaus et al., 2016)).

With this poster, we produce the first set of cranial and infra-cranial morphological data on the Le Moustier 2 bones compared to these of an extant human neonate and underline the ones that are architecturally similar to Neandertal adult traits. Then, considering the age at death of the fossil, we underline the features that we interpret as derived Neandertal, common primitive or inter-individual variability traits (including potential growth and developmental troubles).

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Carriers of mitochondrial DNA macrohaplogroup L3 basal lineages migrated back to Africa from Asia around 70,000 years ago

Vicente M. Cabrera, Patricia Marrero, Khaled K. Abu-Amero, and Jose M. Larruga
BMC Evolutionary Biology
July 19, 2018
(Link)

Background

The main unequivocal conclusion after three decades of phylogeographic mtDNA studies is the African origin of all extant modern humans. In addition, a southern coastal route has been argued for to explain the Eurasian colonization of these African pioneers. Based on the age of macrohaplogroup L3, from which all maternal Eurasian and the majority of African lineages originated, the out-of-Africa event has been dated around 60-70 kya. On the opposite side, we have proposed a northern route through Central Asia across the Levant for that expansion and, consistent with the fossil record, we have dated it around 125 kya. To help bridge differences between the molecular and fossil record ages, in this article we assess the possibility that mtDNA macrohaplogroup L3 matured in Eurasia and returned to Africa as basal L3 lineages around 70 kya.

Human Mitochondrial Diversity Across West New Guinea: The Origin and Expansion of Haplogroups Q1 and P3

Christopher J. Fugina, Emily S. Jelen, Molly C. Morani, Sean C. Velazquez, Mauricio Montex, Caleb A. Almeter, Corinna N. Ronen, Amelia A. Guyon, Ralph M. Garruto and Michel Shamoon-Pour
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

The human population history of the New Guinea Island has often been studied by investigating the genetic variation among populations of Papua New Guinea, which comprises the eastern half of this massive island. Here we explore the mitochondrial DNA diversity in the largely understudied West New Guinea (WNG). 207 blood serum samples representing 34 villages of the highlands and southern coastal regions were selected from a larger collection housed in the Binghamton University Biospecimen Archive Facility. Initial analysis of mtDNA HVS-1 sequences produced 84 unique haplotypes of haplogroups P, Q, and the rare M subclade M73’79. 70 samples were selected for full mitogenome sequencing. The coalescence age estimates revealed older ages for the major Q subclade (Q1= 35kya) than the most common P subclade in both highlands (P1= 20kya) and south coast (P1d= 25kya). The distinct ages of Q and P in WNG indicate their introduction to WNG via separate migrations. The absence of Haplogroup B in both regions suggests that the Austronesian Expansion was limited to the northern coast of WNG. The WNG sample represented some of the most ancestral lineages of Q1 and M73 reported so far. Particularly in regard to Q1, Bayesian and network analysis suggest that this important haplogroup likely originated in WNG or was introduced to WNG soon after its emergence in Sunda. Our sample also includes examples of P3 and P4 lineages that are ancestral to those found among Aboriginal Australians, pointing to their introduction to Australia from WNG no later than 25 kya.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Fluctuating sea levels in Australomelanesia and some shifting hypotheses about human population of Flores, Indonesia

Robert B. Eckhardt, Sakdapong Chavanaves, Kenneth J. Hsu and Macie J. Henneberg
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Since discovery of human bones in Liang Bua Cave, Flores (Brown et al., 2004; Morwood, et al., 2004) supporters of “Homo floresiensis” have maintained validity of initial key attributes (endocranial volume as small as 380 ml, stature of 1.06 m, absent external chin) despite subsequent corrections: endocranial volume of 430 ml (Jacob, et al., 2007), stature >1.25 m (Eckhardt et al., 2014), absence of external chin and presence of retromolar sulcus in undoubted Homo sapiens (Eckhardt, et al., 2015). Hypothetical taxon supporters argue that island isolation was an essential explanatory element for defining phenotypic features (Baab & McNulty, 2009), with Flores having been reached only once. The collateral view of steady body size diminution on Flores since supposed single colonization has been falsified (Brumm, et al., 2016); if anything, body size has increased through time on the island, though recent genetic data (Tucci, et al., 2018) cast serious doubt on single population continuity and evidence for a new species. Our hypothesis (Jacob, et al., 2007) remains that numerous sea level fluctuations over time make it likely that the island was colonized by humans multiple times, with only the archetypical LB1 specimen (62/100 total sample bones, including the only known skull) being a developmentally abnormal individual. Here to the already long list of LB1 abnormalities we document that in dimensions of M1 interdental width (28 mm), palatal skeletal coronal width (51 mm) and palatal coronal height (14.5 mm), LB1 falls within the Down syndrome range and outside that of normal patients.

Anatomic and geometric morphometric assessment of the Herto 16/5 endocranium (Middle Awash, Ethiopia)

Laura E. Cirillo, Dorothy Dechant, Rebecca S. Jabbour and Gary D. Richards
88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists
March 27 – 30, 2019

Abstract

Early anatomically modern humans from the Herto-Bouri locality are dated from 160-154,000 years ago. Recovered remains include crania from two adults and a 6-7 year old juvenile. In the context of Middle Pleistocene hominins, the juvenile Herto 16/5 cranium is the oldest known and most complete modern human subadult. Here we present a preliminary description of the endocranial morphology and a shape assessment. Morphological and shape analyses were conducted on an endocast from a new virtual reconstruction of Herto 16/5. Modern human crania (n=38) aged 5.8-7.9 years were used for comparisons. Developmental ages derive solely from tooth calcification patterns. Procrustes aligned shape variables were employed in a Principal Components Analysis (PCA). Compared to recent juveniles, the Herto endocast is generally flatter with a lower height. The frontal lobe is broad with wide separation of the hemispheres. The inferior frontal gyrus is expanded. This contributes to a strong waisting of the endocast at the junction of the precentral and lunate sulci. The medial aspects of the occipital lobes appear to be rotated postero-inferiorly. The middle meningeal vasculature pattern is simple but modern. Venous drainage is left-dominated but consistent with the modern sample. Thirty-three 3D endocranial landmarks were reduced through PCA to the 16 landmarks that captured the most significant variation in the sample. Variation explained by PC1-4 is 15.9%, 13.9%, 12.0%, and 10.4%, respectively. The endocranial anatomy of Herto 16/5 shows some specific differences relative to recent humans, but the shape analysis places it within the modern human range of variation.