Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 1 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Back to the garden(S)... origin(S) of mankind(S).
Pointing back two posts to this:

Monte Verde: Our Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in South America

Quote:It’s clear that people occupied the continents by about 15,000 years ago, 
probably taking a route along the Pacific coast.

The word probably in italics is how the blog article portrayed it.

That is because they cannot confidently say that cross oceanic migration,
did not contribute to the early populations at Monte Verde.
Cross oceanic migration to that area of the Chilean coast,
very likely predated the land route migration, 
or at least was happening at the same time.
Great article!
NOVEMBER 7, 2019
Scientists link Neanderthal extinction to human diseases
by Ker Than, Stanford University
[Image: maxresdefault.jpg][Image: 2-stanfordscie.jpg]Illustration of modern humans overcoming disease burden before Neanderthals. Credit: Vivian Chen Wong
Growing up in Israel, Gili Greenbaum would give tours of local caves once inhabited by Neanderthals and wonder along with others why our distant cousins abruptly disappeared about 40,000 years ago. 

[Image: tumblr_njpdqwFvIT1sxkvkuo2_1280.png]Now a scientist at Stanford, Greenbaum thinks he has an answer.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, Greenbaum and his colleagues propose that complex disease transmission patterns can explain not only how modern humans were able to wipe out Neanderthals in Europe and Asia in just a few thousand years but also, perhaps more puzzling, why the end didn't come sooner.
"Our research suggests that diseases may have played a more important role in the extinction of the Neanderthals than previously thought. They may even be the main reason why modern humans are now the only human group left on the planet," said Greenbaum, who is the first author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in Stanford's Department of Biology.
[b]The slow kill[/b]

Archeological evidence suggests that the initial encounter between Eurasian Neanderthals and an upstart new human species that recently strayed out of Africa—our ancestors—occurred more than 130,000 years ago in the Eastern Mediterranean in a region known as the Levant.
Yet tens of thousands of years would pass before Neanderthals began disappearing and modern humans expanded beyond the Levant. Why did it take so long?
Employing mathematical models of disease transmission and gene flow, Greenbaum and an international team of collaborators demonstrated how the unique diseases harbored by Neanderthals and modern humans could have created an invisible disease barrier that discouraged forays into enemy territory. Within this narrow contact zone, which was centered in the Levant where first contact took place, Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted in an uneasy equilibrium that lasted tens of millennia.
Ironically, what may have broken the stalemate and ultimately allowed our ancestors to supplant Neanderthals was the coming together of our two species through interbreeding. The hybrid humans born of these unions may have carried immune-related genes from both species, which would have slowly spread through modern human and Neanderthal populations.

As these protective genes spread, the disease burden or consequences of infection within the two groups gradually lifted. Eventually, a tipping point was reached when modern humans acquired enough immunity that they could venture beyond the Levant and deeper into Neanderthal territory with few health consequences.
At this point, other advantages that modern humans may have had over Neanderthals—such as deadlier weapons or more sophisticated social structures—could have taken on greater importance. "Once a certain threshold is crossed, disease burden no longer plays a role, and other factors can kick in," Greenbaum said.

[Image: tumblr_m7uq0kSqai1rzem9mo1_500.jpg]
[b]Why us?[/b]
To understand why modern humans replaced Neanderthals and not the other way around, the researchers modeled what would happen if the suite of tropical diseases our ancestors harbored were deadlier or more numerous than those carried by Neanderthals.
"The hypothesis is that the disease burden of the tropics was larger than the disease burden in temperate regions. An asymmetry of disease burden in the contact zone might have favored modern humans, who arrived there from the tropics," said study co-author Noah Rosenberg, the Stanford Professor of Population Genetics and Society in the School of Humanities and Sciences.
According to the models, even small differences in disease burden between the two groups at the outset would grow over time, eventually giving our ancestors the edge. "It could be that by the time modern humans were almost entirely released from the added burden of Neanderthal diseases, Neanderthals were still very much vulnerable to modern human diseases," Greenbaum said. "Moreover, as modern humans expanded deeper into Eurasia, they would have encountered Neanderthal populations that did not receive any protective immune genes via hybridization."
The researchers note that the scenario they are proposing is similar to what happened when Europeans arrived in the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries and decimated indigenous populations with their more potent diseases.
If this new theory about the Neanderthals' demise is correct, then supporting evidence might be found in the archeological record. "We predict, for example, that Neanderthal and modern human population densities in the Levant during the time period when they coexisted will be lower relative to what they were before and relative to other regions," Greenbaum said.

Explore further
How differences in the genetic 'instruction booklet' between humans and Neanderthals influenced traits

[b]More information:[/b] Gili Greenbaum et al. Disease transmission and introgression can explain the long-lasting contact zone of modern humans and Neanderthals, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12862-7
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Communications [/url]

Provided by 
Stanford University

NOVEMBER 7, 2019

Researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome

[Image: ancientrome.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Scholars have been studying Rome for hundreds of years, but it still holds some secrets—for instance, relatively little is known about the ancestral origins of the city's denizens. Now, an international team led by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Vienna and Sapienza University of Rome is filling in the gaps with a genetic history that shows just how much the Eternal City's populace mirrored its sometimes tumultuous history.

The study, published Nov. 8 in Science, focuses on the ancient DNA of individuals from Rome and adjacent regions in Italy. Those genetic data reveal at least two major migrations into Rome, as well as several smaller but significant population shifts over just the last few thousand years, according to Jonathan Pritchard, a professor of genetics and biology and one of the paper's senior authors.
Notably, DNA analysis revealed that as the Roman Empire expanded around the Mediterranean Sea, immigrants from the Near East, Europe and North Africa pulled up their roots and moved to Rome. This significantly changed the face of one of the ancient world's first great cities, said Pritchard, who is also a member of Stanford Bio-X.
"This study shows how dynamic the past really is," said Hannah Moots, a graduate student in anthropology and co-lead author on the new study. "In Rome we're seeing people come from all over, in ways that correspond with historical political events."
[b]Genetic contact[/b]
In the last decade or so, an increasing number of studies have used DNA sampled from ancient skeletons to fill in important details of human history. Rome presented an interesting opportunity to use the same ancient DNA techniques to fill in details left out of the historical record. "The historical and archaeological records tell us a great deal about political history and contacts of different kinds with 
different places—trade and slavery, for example—but those records provide limited information about the genetic makeup of the population," Pritchard said.
To find out what that makeup looked like, the Stanford team partnered with a host of European researchers, including senior authors Alfredo Coppa, a professor of physical anthropology at Sapienza University, and Ron Pinhasi, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Vienna, to gather 127 human DNA samples from 29 sites in and around Rome dating from between the Stone Age and medieval times.
An analysis of some of the earliest samples more or less comports with what has been found around Europe—they represent an influx of farmers primarily descended from early agriculturalists from Turkey and Iran around 8,000 years ago, followed by a shift toward ancestry from the Ukrainian steppe somewhere between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. By the founding of Rome, traditionally dated to 753 BCE, the city's population had grown in diversity and resembled modern European and Mediterranean peoples.

[b]Republic, empire and beyond[/b]
But for Pritchard, Moots and co-first authors Margaret Antonio, a graduate student in biomedical informatics, and Ziyue Gao, a postdoctoral fellow in Pritchard's lab, the most interesting parts were yet to come. Although Rome began as a humble city-state, within 800 years it had gained control over an empire extending as far west as Britain, south into North Africa and east into Syria, Jordan and Iraq.
As the empire expanded, contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence indicate there were tight connections between Rome and other parts of its domain built through trade, military campaigns, new roads and slavery—and the genetic history corroborates but also complicates the story. There was a massive shift in Roman residents' ancestry, the researchers found, but that ancestry came primarily from the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East, possibly because of denser populations there relative to the Roman Empire's western reaches in Europe and Africa.
The next several centuries were full of turmoil: the empire split in two, diseases decimated Rome's population and a series of invasions befell the city. Those events left a mark on the city's population, which shifted toward western European ancestry. Later, the rise and reign of the Holy Roman Empire brought an influx of central and northern European ancestry.
[b]Migration is nothing new[/b]
The lesson, Pritchard said, is that the ancient world was perpetually in flux, both in terms of culture and of ancestry. "It was surprising to us how rapidly the population ancestry shifted, over timescales of just a few centuries, reflecting Rome's shifting political alliances over time," Pritchard said. "Another striking aspect was how cosmopolitan the population of Rome was, starting more than 2,000 years ago and continuing through the rise and dissolution of the empire. Even in antiquity, Rome was a melting pot of different cultures."
In future studies, the researchers hope to expand the geographic range of ancient DNA they can sample. Among other things, that would allow them to say with more certainty how ancient populations mixed and moved around. In the long run, they're also hoping to study more than ancestry and migration. For example, the group also plans to study the evolution of traits like height, lactose tolerance and resistance to diseases such as malaria that may have changed over time, Moots said.

Explore further
The fall of Rome was Europe's lucky break

[b]More information:[/b] M.L. Antonio el al., "Ancient Rome: A genetic crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean," Science (2019). … 1126/science.aay6826
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science 

Provided by Stanford University
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Quote:Wednesday, January 6th, 2016, 02:11 am (This post was last modified: Wednesday, January 6th, 2016, 03:33 am by EA.)


Not only is the Irish genome being codified,perhaps the Metis will be used as a control,to evaluate other truths in Canada.

New inroads are being made monthly of the original inhabitants of North and South America.

A segment of the population after renewed contact with the old world has produced people like me.

I want to know how I evolved,don't you?  [Image: hi.gif]

We can now find out who everyone is in a genetic time machine!

My last name is Ireland but Am I Irish?

Or Metis? or just out of africa east of eden and back to the garden?

Arrow update
[img][Image: 32173699637_dfa3190191_h.jpg]AncestryDNAStory-clayton-160219 by electric_ashalar, on Flickr[/img]

[Image: 49035534683_7835366d2c_b.jpg]Eye have been narrowed down to a footprint @one tri-locii in canada. Holycowsmile

Quote:Better do your research

Feeling like I fell out of the sky and landed feet first -b.o.b.

jeeze!  Cry

I Am a blimey limey rhymey franco injun!!! LilD

My Euro-savage says to  Sheep my noble savant Eh?


I can pin-point my lineage. 

Humbled by DNA's Truth am i.
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Congrats on getting your whole thing done.  The one I gave My Brother didn't have such detail, but that we DID have neanderthal DNA about <.02%

But we do go back a loooong waay......

Bob.... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]
Estonian Death Metal

NOVEMBER 22, 2019
Were other humans the first victims of the sixth mass extinction?
by Nick Longrich, The Conversation
[Image: wereotherhum.jpg]A Neanderthal skull shows head trauma, evidence of ancient violence. Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Nine human species walked the Earth 300,000 years ago. Now there is just one. The Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis, were stocky hunters adapted to Europe's cold steppes. The related Denisovans inhabited Asia, while the more primitive Homo erectus lived in Indonesia, and Homo rhodesiensis in central Africa.

Several short, small-brained species survived alongside them: Homo naledi in South Africa, Homo luzonensis in the Philippines, Homo floresiensis ("hobbits") in Indonesia, and the mysterious Red Deer Cave People in China. Given how quickly we're discovering new species, more are likely waiting to be found.
By 10,000 years ago, they were all gone. The disappearance of these other species resembles a mass extinction. But there's no obvious environmental catastrophe—volcanic eruptions, climate change, asteroid impact—driving it. Instead, the extinctions' timing suggests they were caused by the spread of a new species, evolving 260,000-350,000 years ago in Southern Africa: Homo sapiens.
The spread of modern humans out of Africa has caused a sixth mass extinction, a greater than 40,000-year event extending from the disappearance of Ice Age mammals to the destruction of rainforests by civilisation today. But were other humans the first casualties?
We are a uniquely dangerous species. We hunted wooly mammoths, ground sloths and moas to extinction. We destroyed plains and forests for farming, modifying over half the planet's land area. We altered the planet's climate. But we are most dangerous to other human populations, because we compete for resources and land.
History is full of examples of people warring, displacing and wiping out other groups over territory, from Rome's destruction of Carthage, to the American conquest of the West and the British colonization of Australia. There have also been recent genocides and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Darfur and Myanmar. Like language or tool use, a capacity for and tendency to engage in genocide is arguably an intrinsic, instinctive part of human nature. There's little reason to think that early Homo sapiens were less territorial, less violent, less intolerant—less human.

Optimists have painted early hunter-gatherers as peaceful, noble savages, and have argued that our culture, not our nature, creates violence. But field studies, historical accounts, and archaeology all show that war in primitive cultures was intense, pervasive and lethal. Neolithic weapons such as clubs, spears, axes and bows, combined with guerrilla tactics like raids and ambushes, were devastatingly effective. Violence was the leading cause of death among men in these societies, and wars saw higher casualty levels per person than World Wars I and II.
Old bones and artifacts show this violence is ancient. The 9,000-year-old Kennewick Man, from North America, has a spear point embedded in his pelvis. The 10,000-year-old Nataruk site in Kenya documents the brutal massacre of at least 27 men, women, and children.
It's unlikely that the other human species were much more peaceful. The existence of cooperative violence in male chimps suggests that war predates the evolution of humans. Neanderthal skeletons show patterns of trauma consistent with warfare. But sophisticated weapons likely gave Homo sapiens a military advantage. The arsenal of early Homo sapiens probably included projectile weapons like javelins and spear-throwers, throwing sticks and clubs.
Complex tools and culture would also have helped us efficiently harvest a wider range of animals and plants, feeding larger tribes, and giving our species a strategic advantage in numbers.
[b]The ultimate weapon[/b]
But cave paintings, carvings, and musical instruments hint at something far more dangerous: a sophisticated capacity for abstract thought and communication. The ability to cooperate, plan, strategizemanipulate and deceive may have been our ultimate weapon.
The incompleteness of the fossil record makes it hard to test these ideas. But in Europe, the only place with a relatively complete archaeological record, fossils show that within a few thousand years of our arrival , Neanderthals vanished. Traces of Neanderthal DNA in some Eurasian people prove we didn't just replace them after they went extinct. We met, and we mated.
Elsewhere, DNA tells of other encounters with archaic humans. East Asian, Polynesian and Australian groups have DNA from Denisovans. DNA from another species, possibly Homo erectus, occurs in many Asian people. African genomes show traces of DNA from yet another archaic species. The fact that we interbred with these other species proves that they disappeared only after encountering us.
But why would our ancestors wipe out their relatives, causing a mass extinction—or, perhaps more accurately, a mass genocide?
The answer lies in population growth. Humans reproduce exponentially, like all species. Unchecked, we historically doubled our numbers every 25 years. And once humans became cooperative hunters, we had no predators. Without predation controlling our numbers, and little family planning beyond delayed marriage and infanticide, populations grew to exploit the available resources.
Further growth, or food shortages caused by drought, harsh winters or overharvesting resources would inevitably lead tribes into conflict over food and foraging territory. Warfare became a check on population growth, perhaps the most important one.
Our elimination of other species probably wasn't a planned, coordinated effort of the sort practiced by civilizations, but a war of attrition. The end result, however, was just as final. Raid by raid, ambush by ambush, valley by valley, modern humans would have worn down their enemies and taken their land.
Yet the extinction of Neanderthals, at least, took a long time—thousands of years. This was partly because early Homo sapiens lacked the advantages of later conquering civilizations: large numbers, supported by farming, and epidemic diseases like smallpox, flu, and measles that devastated their opponents. But while Neanderthals lost the war, to hold on so long they must have fought and won many battles against us, suggesting a level of intelligence close to our own.
Today we look up at the stars and wonder if we're alone in the universe. In fantasy and science fiction, we wonder what it might be like to meet other intelligent species, like us, but not us. It's profoundly sad to think that we once did, and now, because of it, they're gone.

Explore further
What the cranium of oldest human ancestor would have looked like

Provided by The Conversation 

NOVEMBER 25, 2019
People, climate, and water supply all played a role in the extinction of Australia's megafauna
[Image: peopleclimat.jpg]The Pleistocene kangaroo Procoptodon goliah, the most extreme of the short-faced kangaroos, was the largest and most heavily built kangaroo known. It had an unusually short, flat face and forwardly-directed eyes, with a single large toe on each foot (reduced from the more normal count of four). Each hand had two long, clawed fingers that would have been used to bring leafy branches within reach. Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH)
The mystery of the role of people and climate in the fate of Australian megafauna might have been solved in a breakthrough study published today.

"Megafauna,' giant beasts that once roamed the continent—including wombat-like creatures as big as cars, birds more than two meters tall, and lizards more than seven meters long—became extinct about 42,000 years ago. But the role of people in their demise has been hotly debated for decades.
The new study, led by a team of researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), analyzed fossil data, climate reconstructions, and archaeological information describing patterns in human migration across south-eastern Australia.
The team developed and applied sophisticated mathematical models to test scenarios to explain regional variation in the periods during which people and megafauna coexisted.
For the first time, the research suggests a combination of climate change and the impact of people sealed the fate of megafauna, at least in south-eastern Australia. And that distribution of freshwater—a precious commodity for animals and people alike as the climate warmed—can explain regional differences in the timing at which megafauna died out.
"There has been much debate among scientists about what conditions led to this extinction event," said lead author Dr. Frédérik Saltré, Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University.
"Resolving this question is important because it is one of the oldest such extinction events anywhere after modern human beings evolved and left Africa," he added.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, are the result of analysis and complex modeling based on data including more than 10,000 fossils and archaeological records. Using high-quality fossil data and archaeological evidence of human activity, the researchers were able to map regional patterns of megafauna extinction.
They developed sophisticated models to test the impact of factors including climate, water availability, and human activity on localized patterns of megafauna extinction.
The extinction pattern could only be explained by the combination of people sharing the environment and the reduced of availability of freshwater due to climate change.
"The regional patterns in extinction are best explained by the hypothesis that people migrated across Australia, exploiting lakes and other sources of drinking water connecting the drier regions in between," said co-investigator Professor Corey Bradshaw of the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University.
"It is plausible that megafauna species were attracted to the same freshwater sources as humans, thus increasing the chance of interactions."
The new insight that human pressure and climate change work together to trigger species extinction is a "stark warning" for the immediate future of the planet's biodiversity facing even stronger climate and habitat disruption, Dr. Saltré concluded.

Explore further
Disappearing lakes stoke megafauna debate

[b]More information:[/b] Frédérik Saltré et al. Climate-human interaction associated with southeast Australian megafauna extinction patterns, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13277-0
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Communications [/url]

Provided by [url=]Flinders University

Extinction of ice age giants likely drove surviving animals apart

As the world grapples with an extinction crisis, our large mammals are among the most endangered. These threatened species—rhinos, pandas, tigers, polar bears and the like—greatly influence their ecosystems. So what will ...

NOV 21, 2019


UNT scientist helps advance archaeology millions of years

Reid Ferring, a professor in the University of North Texas Department of Geography and the Environment, is part of an international team of scientists who have developed a breakthrough method of identifying the sex and species ...
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
NOVEMBER 27, 2019
Inbreeding and population/demographic shifts could have led to Neanderthal extinction
[Image: inbreedingan.jpg]Small populations, inbreeding, and random demographic fluctuations could have been enough to cause Neanderthal extinction, according to a study published November 27, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Krist Vaesen from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, and colleagues. Credit: Petr Kratochvil (CC0)
Small populations, inbreeding, and random demographic fluctuations could have been enough to cause Neanderthal extinction, according to a study published November 27, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Krist Vaesen from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, and colleagues.

Paleoanthropologists agree that Neanderthals disappeared around 40,000 years ago—about the same time that anatomically modern humans began migrating into the Near East and Europe. However, the role modern humans played in Neanderthal extinction is disputed. In this study, the authors used population modelling to explore whether Neanderthal populations could have vanished without external factors such as competition from modern humans.
Using data from extant hunter-gatherer populations as parameters, the authors developed population models for simulated Neanderthal populations of various initial sizes (50, 100, 500, 1,000, or 5,000 individuals). They then simulated for their model populations the effects of inbreeding, Allee effects (where reduced population size negatively impacts individuals' fitness), and annual random demographic fluctuations in births, deaths, and the sex ratio, to see if these factors could bring about an extinction event over a 10,000-year period.
The population models show that inbreeding alone was unlikely to have led to extinction (this only occurred in the smallest model population). However, reproduction-related Allee effects where 25 percent or fewer Neanderthal females gave birth within a given year (as is common in extant hunter-gatherers) could have caused extinction in populations of up to 1,000 individuals. In conjunction with demographic fluctuations, Allee effects plus inbreeding could have caused extinction across all population sizes modelled within the 10,000 years allotted.
The population models are limited by their parameters, which are based on modern human hunter-gatherers and exclude the impact of the Allee effect on survival rates. It's also possible that modern humans could have impacted Neanderthal populations in ways which reinforced inbreeding and Allee effects, but are not reflected in the models.
However, by showing demographic issues alone could have led to Neanderthal extinction, the authors note these models may serve as a "null hypothesis" for future competing theories—including the impact of modern humans on Neanderthals.
The authors add: "Did Neanderthals disappear because of us? No, this study suggests. The species' demise might have been due merely to a stroke of bad, demographic luck."

Explore further
Declining fertility rates may explain Neanderthal extinction, suggests new model

[b]More information:[/b] Vaesen K, Scherjon F, Hemerik L, Verpoorte A (2019) Inbreeding, Allee effects and stochasticity might be sufficient to account for Neanderthal extinction. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0225117.
[b]Journal information:[/b] PLoS ONE [/url]

Provided by [url=]Public Library of Science

NOVEMBER 27, 2019
Humans co-evolved with immune-related diseases—and it's still happening
[Image: evolution.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Some of the same mutations allowing humans to fend off deadly infections also make us more prone to certain inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease. In a Review published November 27 in the journal Trends in Immunology, researchers describe how ancestral origins impact the likelihood that people of African or Eurasian descent might develop immune-related diseases. The authors also share evidence that the human immune system is still evolving depending on a person's location or lifestyle.

"In the past, people's lifespans were much shorter, so some of these inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that can appear in the second half of life were not so relevant," says first author Jorge Dominguez-Andres, a postdoctoral researcher at Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Science in the Netherlands. "Now that we live so much longer, we can see the consequences of infections that happened to our ancestors."
One of the body's best defenses against infectious diseases is inflammation. Dominguez-Andres and senior author Mihai Netea, a Radboud University immunologist and evolutionary biologist, compiled data from genetics, immunology, microbiology, and virology studies and identified how the DNA from people within different communities commonly infected with bacterial or viral diseases was altered, subsequently allowing for inflammation. While these changes made it more difficult for certain pathogens to infect these communities, they were also associated with the emergence—over time—of new inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease, Lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.
"There seems to be a balance. Humans evolve to build defenses against diseases, but we are not able to stop disease from happening, so the benefit we obtain on one hand also makes us more sensitive to new diseases on the other hand," says Dominguez-Andres. "Today, we are suffering or benefiting from defenses built into our DNA by our ancestors' immune systems fighting off infections or growing accustomed to new lifestyles."
For example, the malaria parasite Plasmodium sp. has infected African populations for millions of years. Because of this, evolutionary processes have selected people with DNA that favors resistance to infections by causing more inflammation in the body. In doing so, this has also contributed to making modern Africans prone to developing cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, later in life.
Dominguez-Andres and Netea also write about how the early-human ancestors of Eurasians lived in regions still inhabited by Neanderthals and interbred. Today, people with remainders of Neanderthal DNA can be more resistant against HIV-1 and 'staph' infections, but are also more likely to develop allergies, asthma, and hay fever.
The negative side effects of changes in each population's immune systems are a relatively recent finding. "We know a few things about what is happening at the genetic level in our ancestry, but we need more powerful technology. So, next generation sequencing is bursting now and allowing us to study the interplay between DNA and host responses at much deeper levels," says Dominguez-Andres. "So, we are obtaining a much more comprehensive point of view."
These technologies are also revealing how our immune systems are evolving in real time because of modern lifestyle changes. African tribes that still engage in hunting have greater bacterial gut diversity than urbanized African-Americans that eat store-bought foods. Also, changes in hygiene patterns seen in the last two centuries have improved sanitation, drinking water, and garbage collection, and have led to reduced exposure to infectious pathogens relative to previous times. As humans move toward processed foods and stricter hygiene standards, their bodies adapt by developing what researchers call "diseases of civilization," such as type 2 diabetes.
Moving forward, Dominguez-Andres and Netea will expand their research to communities that fall outside African and Eurasian populations. "So far, all of the studies we went through are focused on populations with European and African descent, but they must also be extended to indigenous and other populations to improve the representation of human genetic diversity," says Dominguez-Andres. "Lifestyles and ecologic natures can really differ and influence immune responses. So, more work needs to be done."

Explore further
Threat of malaria left its mark on the immune system in people with African ancestry

[b]More information:[/b] Trends in Immunology, Jorge Dominguez-Andres et al.: "Impact of historic migrations and evolutionary processes on human immunity" 10.1016/
Provided by Cell Press
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
DECEMBER 4, 2019
First experimental genetic evidence of the human self-domestication hypothesis
[Image: 1-firstexperim.jpg]Research study from the University of Barcelona identified a genetic network involved in the unique evolutionary trajectory of the modern human face and prosociality not found in Neanderthals. Credit: Thomas Ôrourke/UB
A new University of Barcelona study reveals the first empirical genetic evidence of human self-domestication, a hypothesis that humans have evolved to be friendlier and more cooperative by selecting their companions depending on their behaviour. Researchers identified a genetic network involved in the unique evolutionary trajectory of the modern human face and prosociality, which is absent in the Neanderthal genome. The experiment is based on Williams Syndrome cells, a rare disease.

The study, published in Science Advances, results from the collaboration between a UB team led by Cedric Boeckx, ICREA professor from the Section of General Linguistics at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics, and member of the Institute of Complex Systems of the UB (UBICS), and researchers from the team led by Giuseppe Testa, lecturer at the University of Milan and the European Institute of Oncology.
[b]An evolutionary process similar to animal domestication[/b]
The idea of human self-domestication dates back to the 19th century. It is the claim that anatomical and cognitive-behavioral hallmarks of modern humans, such as docility or a gracile physiognomy, could result from an evolutionary process bearing significant similarities to the domestication of animals.
[b]The key role of neural crest cells[/b]
Earlier research by the team of Cedric Boeckx had found genetic similarities between humans and domesticated animals in genes. The aim of the present study was to take a step further and deliver empirical evidence focusing on neural crest cells. This is a population of migratory and pluripotent cells—able to form all the cell types in a body—that form during the development of vertebrates with major importance in development. "A mild deficit of neural crest cells has already been hypothesized to be the factor underlying animal domestication. Could it be that humans got a more prosocial cognition and a retracted face relative to other extinct humans in the course of our evolution as a result of changes affecting neural crest cells?" asks Alejandro Andirkó, a Ph.D. student at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics of the UB, who took part in the study.
To test this relationship, researchers focused on Williams Syndrome disorder, a specific human neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by both craniofacial and cognitive-behavioral traits relevant to domestication. The syndrome is a neurocristopathy: a deficit of a specific cell type during embryogenesis—in this case, neural crest cells.
In this study, researchers from the team led by Giuseppe Testa used in vitro models of Williams syndrome with stem cells derived from the skin. Results showed that the BAZ1B gene, which lies in the region of the genome causing Williams Syndrome, controls neural crest cell behavior. Lower levels of BAZ1B resulted in reduced neural-crest migration, and higher levels produced greater neural-crest migration.
[b]Comparing modern human and Neanderthal genomes[/b]
Researchers examined this gene in archaic and modern human genomes. "We wanted to understand if neural crest cell genetic networks were affected in human evolution compared to the Neanderthal genomes," Cedric Boeckx said.
Results showed that that BAZ1B affects a significant number of genes accumulating mutations in high frequency in all living human populations that are not found in archaic genomes currently available. "We take this to mean that the BAZ1B genetic network is an important reason our face is so different when compared with our extinct relatives, the Neanderthals," Boeckx said. "In the big picture, it provides for the first-time experimental validation of the neural crest-based self-domestication hypothesis," continues.
[b]An empirical way to test evolutionary claims[/b]
These results open the road to studies tackling the role of neural crest cells in prosociality and other cognitive domains but is also one of the first examples of a potential subfield to test evolutionary claims. "This research constitutes one of the first studies that uses cutting-edge empirical technologies in a clinical setting to understand how humans have evolved since the split with Neanderthals, and establishes Williams Syndrome in particular as a unique atypical neurodevelopmental window onto the evolution of our species," Boeckx concludes.

Explore further
Did humans domesticate themselves?

[b]More information:[/b] M. Zanella el al., "Dosage analysis of the 7q11.23 Williams region identifies BAZ1B as a major human gene patterning the modern human face and underlying self-domestication," Science Advances (2019).
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances [/url]

Provided by [url=]University of Barcelona
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
DECEMBER 12, 2019
World's oldest artwork uncovered in Indonesian cave: study
[Image: caveartonthe.jpg]Cave art on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, was painted 44,000 years ago and is the oldest known to date
An Indonesian cave painting that depicts a prehistoric hunting scene could be the world's oldest figurative artwork dating back nearly 44,000 years, a discovery that points to an advanced artistic culture, according to new research.

Spotted two years ago on the island of Sulawesi, the 4.5 metre (13 foot) wide painting features wild animals being chased by half-human hunters wielding what appear to be spears and ropes, said the study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
Using dating technology, the team at Australia's Griffith University said it had confirmed that the limestone cave painting dated back at least 43,900 years during the Upper Palaeolithic period.
"This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world," researchers said.
The discovery comes after a painting of an animal in a cave on the Indonesian island of Borneo was earlier determined to have been at least 40,000 years old, while in 2014, researchers dated figurative art on Sulawesi to 35,000 years ago.
"I've never seen anything like this before," Griffith University archaeologist Adam Brumm told Nature.
"I mean, we've seen hundreds of rock art sites in this region, but we've never seen anything like a hunting scene," he added.

[b]'Mythological or supernatural'[/b]
For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, but Indonesian paintings have challenged that thinking.
There are at least 242 caves or shelters with ancient imagery on Sulawesi alone, and new sites are being discovered annually, the team said.
In the latest dated scene, the animals appear to be wild pigs and small buffalo, while the hunters are depicted in reddish-brown colours with human bodies and the heads of animals including birds and reptiles.
The human-animal figures, known in mythology as therianthropes, suggested that early humans in the region were able to imagine things that did not exist in the world, the researchers said.
"We don't know what it means, but it seems to be about hunting and it seems to maybe have mythological or supernatural connotations," Brumm was quoted as saying.
A half-lion, half-human ivory figure found in Germany that was estimated to be some 40,000 years old was thought to be the oldest example of therianthropy, the article said.

[Image: formanyyears.jpg]
For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, but Indonesian paintings have challenged that theory
[b]Evolutionary history[/b]

The Sulawesi painting, which is in poor condition, suggests that a highly advanced artistic culture existed some 44,000 years ago, punctuated by folklore, religious myths and spiritual belief, the team said.
"(The scene) may be regarded not only as the earliest dated figurative art in the world but also as the oldest evidence for the communication of a narrative in Palaeolithic art," researchers said.
"This is noteworthy, given that the ability to invent fictional stories may have been the last and most crucial stage in the evolutionary history of human language and the development of modern-like patterns of cognition."
However, some scientists expressed scepticism about whether the latest find was actually one scene or a series of paintings done over possibly thousands of years.
  • [Image: 5df1f9435bcc9.jpg]

  • Credit: A. Brumm  (figure design and production); A.A. Oktaviana (digital tracings); R. Sardi (photographs of rock art); C.C. Lee (Sus celebensis photograph). Caption: Late Pleistocene rock art panel from Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4. Discovered in 2017, this cave painting of a narrative hunting ‘scene’ from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi has been dated using Uranium-series analysis to at least 43,900 years ago – it is the oldest known figurative art in the world.

  • [Image: thereareatle.jpg]

  • There are at least 242 caves or shelters with ancient imagery on Sulawesi island alone, and new sites are being discovered annually

  • [Image: 5df1f9435bcc9.jpg]
  • Credit: A. Brumm  (figure design and production); A.A. Oktaviana (digital tracings); R. Sardi (photographs of rock art); C.C. Lee (Sus celebensis photograph). Caption: Late Pleistocene rock art panel from Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4. Discovered in 2017, this cave painting of a narrative hunting ‘scene’ from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi has been dated using Uranium-series analysis to at least 43,900 years ago – it is the oldest known figurative art in the world.
  • [Image: thereareatle.jpg]There are at least 242 caves or shelters with ancient imagery on Sulawesi island alone, and new sites are being discovered annually

[*][Image: thereareatle.jpg]
[*][Image: 5df1f9435bcc9.jpg]

Depictions of humans alongside animals did not become common in other parts of the world until about 10,000 years ago, one said.
"Whether it's a scene is questionable," Paul Pettitt, an archaeologist and rock-art specialist at Durham University in Britain, was quoted as saying.

Explore further
Oldest known animal drawing found in remote Indonesian cave

[b]More information:[/b] Maxime Aubert et al. Earliest hunting scene in prehistoric art, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1806-y
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...

from the last post:

Quote:In the latest dated scene, 
the animals appear to be wild pigs and small buffalo, 
while the hunters are depicted in reddish-brown colours 
with human bodies 
and the heads of animals including birds and reptiles.

The human-animal figures, 
known in mythology as therianthropes, 
suggested that early humans in the region 
were able to imagine things that did not exist in the world, 
the researchers said.
"We don't know what it means,

but it seems to be about hunting 
and it seems to maybe have mythological or supernatural connotations," 
Brumm was quoted as saying.

The animal heads on the humans denotes a shamanistic hunting ritual.
The foremost would be the cat - man,
later known,
as the shaman jaguar.

The article is missing some other content.
See this link:

Quote:Ancient Sulawesi people, 
like European cave painters, 
drew lots of wildlife. 
On the limestone walls, 
animals loom larger than the other characters, 
who are nearly as spindly as stick figures. 

In one section, those figures cluster in front of a buffalo. 
They appear to face off against the animal. 
Lines connect their small arms to the buffalo’s chest.

The large horned animals scrawled on the walls are anoa, 
a species of water buffalo found only on Sulawesi.
Anoa are about the size of large dogs, 
but what they lack in stature they make up for in aggressive tempers. Whip
The characters in the scene appear to be hunting or, 
wrangling one of the buffalo, Aubert said.

Exactly what is happening in the artwork is up for interpretation. 
Consider the thin red lines, for instance. 
“We cannot prove they are spears or ropes,” 
Aubert said.

Or the figures’ bizarre features. 
To Aubert they look like humans with animal traits. 
“The humans there, they are not fully human:
 One has a tail, then others may have some sort of bird head or something,” he said. 
“I think it’s probably something that didn’t really exist. 
Maybe it’s part of a mythical creature. … We don’t know. But it is one of the possibilities.”

Aubert and Brumm likened the Sulawesi figures to the cat-headed man. <---
These painters, 
like the early ivory carvers in Europe, 
were storytellers with imaginations, they said. 
Their subject matter “has no place in reality,” Brumm said. 
Either humans developed these elements of creative storytelling 
at the far corners of the planet around the same time, 
or storytelling is a trait developed by even older human ancestors.

the animals they hunted were noted as very aggressive.
This part ... 
"armed with spears or ropes",
would actually be:
spears AND ropes,
for several hunters to control the speared animals better.

It is reported that even today Amazonian tribes
hunt under the influence of yopo snuff (DMT alkaloids),
running through the jungle with green snot streaming,
dressed in feathers and horrible masks.

[Image: qcOJei5.jpg]
Quote:Tuesday, December 29th, 2015, 07:47 pm (This post was last modified: Monday, June 4th, 2018, 06:58 pm by EA.)

This thread is to discuss and update our knowledge on the origins of mankind.

The fascinating subject of our origins has recently been populated with anomalous new hominid species.

Living literally alongside us yet now they all seem gone.

So much new information has arisen that itz time for a total update for 2016. Arrow  2020

DECEMBER 19, 2019
Origin story: Rewriting human history through DNA
by Tom Garlinghouse, Princeton University
[Image: originstoryr.jpg]Joshua Akey, a professor in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, uses a research method he calls genetic archaeology to transform how we’re learning about our past. Fossil evidence illustrates the spread of two long-extinct hominin species, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Modern humans carry genes from these species, indicating that our direct ancestors encountered and mated with archaic humans. Credit: Michael Francis Reagan
For most of our evolutionary history—for most of the time anatomically modern humans have been on Earth—we've shared the planet with other species of humans. It's only been in the last 30,000 years, the mere blink of an evolutionary eye, that modern humans have occupied the planet as the sole representative of the hominin lineage.

But we carry evidence of these other species with us. Lurking within our genome are traces of genetic material from a variety of ancient humans that no longer exist. These traces reveal a long history of intermingling, as our direct ancestors encountered—and mated with—archaic humans. As we use increasingly complex technologies to study these genetic connections, we are learning not only about these extinct humans but also about the larger picture of how we evolved as a species.
Joshua Akey, a professor in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, is spearheading efforts to understand this larger picture. He calls his research method genetic archaeology, and it's transforming how we're learning about our past. "We can excavate different types of humans not from dirt and fossils but directly from DNA," he said.
Combining his expertise in biology and Darwinian evolution with computational and statistical methods, Akey studies the genetic connections between modern humans and two species of extinct hominins: Neanderthals, the classical "cave men" of paleoanthropology; and Denisovans, a recently discovered archaic human. Akey's research divulges a complex history of the intermixing of early humans, indicative of several millennia of population movements across the globe.
"There's often a divide between the researchers who go out and collect exotic samples and the researchers who do really creative theory and data analysis, and he's done both," said Kelley Harris, a former colleague of Akey's who is now an assistant professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington.
Like many of us, Akey has long been interested in how the human species evolved. "People want to learn about their past," he said. "But even more than that, we want to know what it means to be human."
This curiosity followed Akey throughout his schooling. During his graduate work at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in the late 1990s, he looked at how contemporary humans in different parts of the world were genetically related to one another, and used early gene sequencing methods to try to understand these relationships.

Gene sequencers are devices that determine the order of the four chemical bases (A, T, C and G) that make up the DNA molecule. By determining the order of these bases, analysts can identify the genetic information encoded in a strand of DNA.
Since the 1990s, however, gene sequencing technology has progressed dramatically. A new technology known as next-generation sequencing came into use around 2010 and allowed researchers to study a very large number of genetic sequences in the human genome. It took 10 years to sequence the first human genome, but these new machines get whole genome sequence data from thousands of individuals in only a matter of hours. "When next-generation sequencing technology started to become the dominant force in genetics," Akey said, "that completely changed the entire field. It's hard to overstate how dramatic this technology has been."
The scale of the data that now can be analyzed has allowed researchers to address a whole slew of new questions that would not have been possible with the previous technology.

[Image: 1-originstoryr.jpg]
Joshua Akey and his team use gene-sequencing technologies to reveal new information about archaic human lineages as well as our own evolutionary history. Credit: Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy
One of these questions is the relationship between modern humans and archaic humans, such as Neanderthals. In fact, this question fostered a vigorous debate about whether modern humans carried genes from Neanderthals. For many years, the opinions of researchers—both pro and con—ticked back and forth like a metronome.
Gradually, however, a few researchers—including geneticists Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and his colleague Richard (Ed) Green of the University of California-Santa Cruz—began to demonstrate strong evidence that, indeed, there had been gene flow from Neanderthals to modern humans. In a 2010 paper, these researchers estimated that people of non-African ancestry had about 2% Neanderthal ancestry.
Neanderthals lived in a wide geographical swath across Europe, the Near East and Central Asia before dying out around 30,000 years ago. They lived alongside anatomically modern humans, who evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago. The archaeological record shows that Neanderthals were adept at making stone tools and developed a number of physical traits that uniquely adapted them to cold, dark climates, such as broad noses, thick body hair and large eyes.
Following on the heels of Pääbo and Green's Neanderthal research, Akey and a colleague, Benjamin Vernot, published a paper in Science looking at recovering Neanderthal sequences from the genome of modern humans. Geneticist David Reich of Harvard University published a similar paper in Nature, and, together, the two papers provided the first data employing the modern genome to investigate our link with Neanderthals.
Using the genetic variation in contemporary populations to learn about things that happened in the past involves scrutinizing the modern human genome for gene sequences that display traits expected to have been inherited from a different type of human. Akey and his colleagues then take those sequences and compare them to the Neanderthal genome, looking for a match.
Using this technique, Akey has been able to uncover a rich human legacy of genetic interconnections on a scale previously unconceived. As stated, while the available evidence suggests that non-Africans carry about 2% of Neanderthal genes, Africans, who were once believed not to have any connections with Neanderthals, actually have approximately 0.5% Neanderthal genes. Researchers have further discovered that the Neanderthal genome has contributed to several diseases seen in modern human populations, such as diabetes, arthritis and celiac disease. By the same token, some genes inherited from Neanderthals have proven beneficial or neutral, such as genes for hair and skin color, sleep patterns and even mood.
Akey has also discovered genetic fingerprints that suggest our human ancestry contains species about which we know nothing or very little. The Denisovans are a case in point. An archaic form of human, they coexisted with anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals and interbred with both before going extinct. The first evidence of their existence came in 2008 when a finger bone was discovered in Denisova Cave in the remote Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. At first the bone was assumed to be Neanderthal because the cave contained evidence of these species. Consequently, it sat in a museum drawer in Leipzig, Germany, for many years before it was analyzed. But when it was, the researchers were dumbfounded. It wasn't a Neanderthal—it was a hitherto unknown type of ancient human. "The Denisovans are the first species ever identified directly from their DNA and not from fossil data," Akey said.
Since that time, continued genetic work—much of it conducted by Akey and his colleagues—has established that the closest living relatives of Denisovans are modern Melanesians, the inhabitants of the Melanesian islands of the western Pacific—places such as New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Fiji. These populations carry between 4% and 6% of Denisovan genes, though they also carry Neanderthal genes.
Examples like this highlight one of the main features of our human lineage, Akey said, that admixture has been a defining feature of our history. "Throughout human history there's always been admixture," Akey said. "Populations split and they come back together."
While there remains a lot of debate about the Denisovans, Akey believes they most likely were closely related to Neanderthals, perhaps an eastern version who split off from the latter sometime around 300,000 or 400,000 years ago. Recently, genetic analysis of fossils from Denisova Cave has uncovered evidence of an offspring between a Neanderthal woman and a Denisovan male. The offspring was a female who lived approximately 90,000 years ago. By looking at this genetic trail, Akey and other researchers have been able to piece together a fascinating story of human evolution—one that is promising to rewrite our understanding of early human origins.
But there's so much more to discover, Akey said. "Even though we have sequenced probably 100,000 genomes already, and we have pretty sophisticated tools for looking at that variation, the more we think about how to interpret genetic variation, the more we find these hidden stories in our DNA," he said.

Explore further
Fossil find suggests Denisovan fingers looked more like modern human fingers than Neanderthal fingers

Provided by Princeton University
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
DECEMBER 24, 2019
Archaeological discoveries are happening faster than ever before, helping refine the human story
by Elizabeth Sawchuk and Mary Prendergast, The Conversation
[Image: 5-archaeologic.jpg]Nearly a century ago, archaeologists started to shift the focus of human origins research from Europe to Africa’s ‘cradles of humankind’ like Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge in Tanzania. What will the next big shifts be? Credit: Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, CC BY-SA
In 1924, a three-year-old child's skull found in South Africa forever changed how people think about human origins.

The Taung Child, our first encounter with an ancient group of proto-humans or hominins called australopithecines, was a turning point in the study of human evolution. This discovery shifted the focus of human origins research from Europe and Asia onto Africa, setting the stage for the last century of research on the continent and into its "Cradles of Humankind."
Few people back then would've been able to predict what scientists know about evolution today, and now the pace of discovery is faster than ever. Even since the turn of the 21st century, human origins textbooks have been rewritten over and over again. Just 20 years ago, no one could have imagined what scientists know two decades later about humanity's deep past, let alone how much knowledge could be extracted from a thimble of dirt, a scrape of dental plaque or satellites in space.
[b]Human fossils are outgrowing the family tree[/b]
In Africa, there are now several fossil candidates for the earliest hominin dated to between 5 and 7 million years ago, when we know humans likely split off from other Great Apes based on differences in our DNA.
Although discovered in the 1990s, publication of the 4.4 million year old skeleton nicknamed "Ardi" in 2009 changed scientists' views on how hominins began walking.
Rounding out our new relatives are a few australopithecines, including Australopithecus deryiremeda and Australopithecus sediba, as well as a potentially late-surviving species of early Homo that reignited debate about when humans first began burying their dead.

Perspectives on our own species have also changed. Archaeologists previously thought Homo sapiens evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, but the story has become more complicatedFossils discovered in Morocco have pushed that date back to 300,000 years ago, consistent with ancient DNA evidence. This raises doubts that our species emerged in any single place.

[Image: 6-archaeologic.jpg]
Fossils like that of Australopithecus sediba, discovered in South Africa by a 9-year-old boy, are reshaping the human family tree. Credit: Prof Berger and Wits University, CC BY-SA
This century has also brought unexpected discoveries from Europe and Asia. From enigmatic "hobbits" on the Indonesian island of Flores to the Denisovans in Siberia, our ancestors may have encountered a variety of other hominins when they spread out of Africa. Just this year, researchers reported a new species from the Philippines.
Anthropologists are realizing that our Homo sapiens ancestors had much more contact with other human species than previously thought. Today, human evolution looks less like Darwin's tree and more like a muddy, braided stream.
[b]Ancient DNA reveals old relationships[/b]
Many recent discoveries have been made possible by the new science of ancient DNA.
Since scientists fully sequenced the first ancient human genome in 2010, data from thousands of individuals have shed new insights on our species' origins and early history.
One shocking discovery is that although our lineages split up to 800,000 years ago, modern humans and Neanderthals mated a number of times during the last Ice Age. This is why many people today possess some Neanderthal DNA.
Ancient DNA is how researchers first identified the mysterious Denisovans, who interbred with us and Neanderthals. And while most studies are still conducted on bones and teeth, it is now possible to extract ancient DNA from other sources like cave dirt and 6,000-year-old chewing gum.
Genetic methods are also reconstructing individual and family relationships, and connecting ancient individuals to living peoples to end decades-long debates.
The applications go far beyond humans. Paleogenomics is yielding surprising discoveries about plants and animals from ancient seeds and skeletons hidden in the backrooms of museums.

[Image: 7-archaeologic.jpg]
The rise of biomolecular archaeology means new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration among field- and lab-based scientists. Credit: Christina Warinner, CC BY-ND
[b]Biomolecules are making the invisible visible[/b]
DNA is not the only molecule revolutionizing studies of the past.
Paleoproteomics, the study of ancient proteins, can determine the species of a fossil and recently linked a 9-foot tall, 1,300-pound extinct ape that lived nearly 2 million years ago to today's orangutans.
Dental calculus—the hardened plaque that your dentist scrapes off your teeth—is particularly informative, revealing everything from who was drinking milk 6,000 years ago to the surprising diversity of plants, some likely medicinal, in Neanderthal diets. Calculus can help scientists understand ancient diseases and how the human gut microbiome has changed over time. Researchers even find cultural clues—bright blue lapis lazuli trapped in a medieval nun's calculus led historians to reconsider who penned illuminated manuscripts.
Lipid residues trapped in pottery have revealed the origins of milk consumption in the Sahara and showed that oddly shaped pots found throughout Bronze and Iron Age Europe were ancient baby bottles.
Researchers use collagen-based "barcodes" of different animal species to answer questions ranging from when Asian rats arrived as castaways on Africa-bound ships to what animals were used to produce medieval parchment or even to detect microbes left by a monk's kiss on a page.
[b]Big data is revealing big patterns[/b]
While biomolecules help researchers zoom into microscopic detail, other approaches let them zoom out. Archaeologists have used aerial photography since the 1930s, but widely available satellite imagery now enables researchers to discover new sites and monitor existing ones at risk. Drones flying over sites help investigate how and why they were made and combat looting.

[Image: 8-archaeologic.jpg]
The 2010 excavation in the East Gallery of Denisova Cave, where the ancient hominin species known as the Denisovans were discovered. Credit: Bence Viola. Dept. of Anthropology, University of Toronto, CC BY-ND
Originally developed for space applications, scientists now use LIDAR—a remote sensing technique that uses lasers to measure distance—to map 3-D surfaces and visualize landscapes here on Earth. As a result, ancient cities are emerging from dense vegetation in places like MexicoCambodia and South Africa.
Technologies that can peer underground from the surface, such as Ground Penetrating Radar, are also revolutionizing the field—for example, revealing previously unknown structures at Stonehenge. More and more, archaeologists are able to do their work without even digging a hole.
Teams of archaeologists are combining big datasets in new ways to understand large-scale processes. In 2019, over 250 archaeologists pooled their findings to show that humans have altered the planet for thousands of years, for example, with a 2,000-year-old irrigation system in China. This echoes other studies that challenge the idea that the Anthropocene, the current period defined by human influences on the planet, only began in the 20th century.
[b]New connections are raising new possibilities[/b]
These advances bring researchers together in exciting new ways. Over 140 new Nazca Lines, ancient images carved into a Peruvian desert, were discovered using artificial intelligence to sift through drone and satellite imagery. With the wealth of high-resolution satellite imagery online, teams are also turning to crowdsourcing to find new archaeological sites.
Although new partnerships among archaeologists and scientific specialists are not always tension-free, there is growing consensus that studying the past means reaching across fields.
The Open Science movement aims to makes this work accessible to all. Scientists including archaeologists are sharing data more freely within and beyond the academy. Public archaeology programs, community digs and digital museum collections are becoming common. You can even print your own copy of famous fossils from freely available 3-D scans, or an archaeological coloring book in more than 30 languages.
Efforts to make archaeology and museums more equitable and engage indigenous research partners are gaining momentum as archaeologists consider whose past is being revealed. Telling the human story requires a community of voices to do things right.

[Image: 9-archaeologic.jpg]
Scientists unexpectedly found lazurite pigment in calcified plaque clinging to a 11th- to 12th-century woman’s tooth, challenging the assumption that male monks were the primary makers of medieval manuscripts. Credit: Christina Warinner, CC BY-ND
[b]Studying the past to change our present[/b]
As new methods enable profound insight into humanity's shared history, a challenge is to ensure that these insights are relevant and beneficial in the present and future.
In a year marked by youth-led climate strikes and heightened awareness of a planet in crisis, it may seem counterproductive to look back in time.
Yet in so doing, archaeologists are providing empirical support for climate change and revealing how ancient peoples coped with challenging environments.
As one example, studies show that while industrial meat production has serious environmental coststranshumance—a traditional practice of seasonally moving livestock, now recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage—is not only light on the land today, but helped promote biodiversity and healthy landscapes in the past.
Archaeologists today are contributing their methods, data and perspectives toward a vision for a less damaged, more just planet. While it's difficult to predict exactly what the next century holds in terms of archaeological discoveries, a new focus on "usable pasts" points in a positive direction.

Explore further
A fresh look at the demise of an ancient human species over 100,000 years ago

Provided by The Conversation
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
JANUARY 8, 2020
Early humans revealed to have engineered optimized stone tools at Olduvai Gorge
[Image: 5e15a0e922a32.jpg]Representative flakes made from quartzite (a), chert (b) and basalt ©. The Instron 3345 tensile testing machine used during the controlled cutting tests (d). A quartzite flake, prior to being used to cut, is clearly depicted, along with the metal framework and PVC tubing (e). Credit: Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2020). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2019.0377
Early Stone Age populations living between 1.8 - 1.2 million years ago engineered their stone tools in complex ways to make optimised cutting tools, according to a new study by University of Kent and UCL.

The research, published in the Journal of Royal Society Interface, shows that Palaeolithic hominins selected different raw materials for different stone tools based on how sharp, durable and efficient those materials were. They made these decisions in conjunction with information about the length of time the tools would be used for and the force with which they could be applied. This reveals previously unseen complexity in the design and production of stone tools during this period.
The research was led by Dr. Alastair Key, from Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation, and is based on evidence from mechanical testing of the raw materials and artefacts found at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania—one of the world's most important sites for human origins research.
Dr. Key collaborated with Dr. Tomos Proffitt, from UCL Institute of Archaeology, and Professor Ignacio de la Torre of the CSIC-Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales in Madrid, for the study.
Their research, which employed experimental methods more commonly used in modern engineering research, shows that hominins preferentially selected quartzite, the sharpest but least durable stone type at Olduvai for flake tools; a technology thought to have been used for expedient, short-lived cutting activities.
Chert, which was identified as being highly durable and nearly as sharp as quartzite, was only available to hominins for a short 200,000 year period. Whenever it was available, chert was favoured for a variety of stone tool types due to its ability to maximise cutting performance over extended tool-use durations. Other stone types, including highly durable lavas, were available at Olduvai, however their use varied according to factors such as how long a tool was intended to be used for, a tools potential to create high cutting forces, and the distance hominins had to travel to raw material sources.
The study reveals a level of complexity and flexibility in stone tool production previously unseen at this time. Earlier research had demonstrated Early Stone Age populations in Kenya to select highly durable stone types for tools, but this is the first time cutting edge sharpness has been able to be considered. By selecting the material best suited to specific functional needs, hominins optimised the performance of their tools and ensured a tools efficiency and 'ease-of-use' was maximised.

Dr. Key said: 'Why Olduvai populations preferentially chose one raw material over another has puzzled archaeologists for more than 60 years. This has been made all the more intriguing given that some stone types, including lavas and quartzite, were always available.
'What we've been able to demonstrate is that our ancestors were making quite complex decisions about which raw materials to use, and were doing so in a way that produced tools optimised for specific circumstances. Although we knew that later hominin species, including our own, were capable of such decisions, it's amazing to think that populations 1.8—1.2 million years ago were also doing so.'
Dr. Proffitt added: 'Early hominins during the Oldowan were probably using stone flakes for a variety of tasks. Mostly for butchering animals whilst scavenging, but also probably for cutting various plants and possibly even shaping wood. A durable cutting edge would have been an important factor when using these tools.
'There are many modern analytical techniques used in material sciences and engineering that can be used to interrogate the archaeological record, and may provide new insights into the mechanical properties of such tools and artefacts. By understanding the way that these tools work and their functional limits it allows archaeologists to build up a greater understanding of the capabilities of our earliest ancestors at the dawn of technology.'
The team now hopes that researchers at other archaeological sites will want to apply similar mechanical tests and techniques to help understand the behaviour of Stone Age populations.
'Raw material optimisation and stone tool engineering in the Early Stone Age of Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)' has been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Explore further
First experimental study for traceological interpretation at Olduvai sites

[b]More information:[/b] Alastair Key et al, Raw material optimization and stone tool engineering in the Early Stone Age of Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2020). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2019.0377
[b]Journal information:[/b] Journal of the Royal Society Interface [/url]

Provided by 
University of Kent

Dating of volcanic ash at Sangiran shows Homo erectus arrived later than thought
by Bob Yirka ,
[Image: 5e186414e9f51.jpg]The most complete cranium of Javanese Homo erectus so far found. This specimen [Pithecanthropus VIII (Sangiran 17)] dates to ca. 0.82 million years ago and belongs to the chronologically younger group of the Sangiran hominins. Credit: Hisao Baba/National Museum of Nature and Science
A team of researchers from Japan, Indonesia and Germany has found evidence that suggests Homo erectus arrived on the island of Java approximately 300,000 years later than thought. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes using two techniques to date the volcanic ash from which the oldest known fossils were unearthed, and what they found.

Back in 1994, archaeologist Carl Swisher dated the same fossils to approximately 1.8 million years ago, a time frame that suggested Homo erectus had emerged as a species in Asia rather than Africa. Since that time, the fossil dates have become controversial in the archaeological community. In this new effort, the researchers sought to settle the debate by carrying out two types of dating to show how long a sample of volcanic ash has been fixed at a site. In this case, the site was the Sangiran dome—an uplifted tectonic dome on the island of Java, in Indonesia. The site has thus far yielded over 100 hominin fossils since it first came under study in 1936.
The two techniques used by the team were uranium-lead dating, which allows for measuring the crystallization age of a volcanic soil sample, and fission track dating, which measures characteristics of zircon grains in the volcanic material spewed during an eruption, and thus, the age of a volcanic eruption. The team used both techniques to test the volcanic material in which the fossils were found. The researchers report that both techniques showed an age of 1.3 to 1.5 million years. This rolls back Swisher's estimates by by approximately 300,000. And more importantly, it suggests that Homo erectus first emerged in Africa and migrated to Asia. This is because prior studies have dated H. erectus fossils in Georgia to 1.8 million years and in China to 1.6 million years.

[Image: 5e18642a24646.jpg]
Figure showing Sangiran location and generalized stratigraphy and outlining the provenance of two chronological groups of the Sangiran hominins, chronological controversy for over two decades, and our results from this study. Credit: Matsu’ura et al., Science (2019)
The researchers suggest that because they used two independent dating techniques that agreed with one another, their results should settle the debate regarding the earliest known time H. erectus lived on Java—and it should also settle the issue of where H. erectus first emerged.

[Image: 5e18643fce1ba.jpg]
Two mandibles of Homo erectus which date to between ca. 0.90 and 1.1 million years ago. These specimens [left, Pithecanthropus C (Sangiran 9); right, Pithecanthropus F (Sangiran 22)] belong to the chronologically older group of the Sangiran hominins. It is interesting that the mandibles have been reported to display relatively primitive features which are comparable in morphology to hundreds of thousands of years earlier African Homo erectus. Credit: Shuji Matsu’ura/National Museum of Nature and Science

Explore further
A fresh look at the demise of an ancient human species over 100,000 years ago

[b]Journal information:[/b] Science

JANUARY 10, 2020
Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims
by Natalie Van Hoose, Florida Museum of Natural History
[Image: studyputsthe.jpg]Researchers analyzed the skulls of early Caribbean inhabitants, using 3D facial "landmarks" as a genetic proxy for determining how closely people groups were related to one another. Credit: Ann Ross/North Carolina State University
Christopher Columbus' accounts of the Caribbean include harrowing descriptions of fierce raiders who abducted women and cannibalized men—stories long dismissed as myths.

But a new study suggests Columbus may have been telling the truth.
Using the equivalent of facial recognition technology, researchers analyzed the skulls of early Caribbean inhabitants, uncovering relationships between people groups and upending longstanding hypotheses about how the islands were first colonized.
One surprising finding was that the Caribs, marauders from South America and rumored cannibals, invaded Jamaica, Hispaniola and the Bahamas, overturning half a century of assumptions that they never made it farther north than Guadeloupe.
"I've spent years trying to prove Columbus wrong when he was right: There were Caribs in the northern Caribbean when he arrived," said William Keegan, Florida Museum of Natural History curator of Caribbean archaeology. "We're going to have to reinterpret everything we thought we knew."
Columbus had recounted how peaceful Arawaks in modern-day Bahamas were terrorized by pillagers he mistakenly described as "Caniba," the Asiatic subjects of the Grand Khan. His Spanish successors corrected the name to "Caribe" a few decades later, but the similar-sounding names led most archaeologists to chalk up the references to a mix-up: How could Caribs have been in the Bahamas when their closest outpost was nearly 1,000 miles to the south?
But skulls reveal the Carib presence in the Caribbean was far more prominent than previously thought, giving credence to Columbus' claims.
[b]Face to face with the Caribbean's earliest inhabitants[/b]
Previous studies relied on artifacts such as tools and pottery to trace the geographical origin and movement of people through the Caribbean over time. Adding a biological component brings the region's history into sharper focus, said Ann Ross, a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University and the study's lead author.
Ross used 3-D facial "landmarks," such as the size of an eye socket or length of a nose, to analyze more than 100 skulls dating from about A.D. 800 to 1542. These landmarks can act as a genetic proxy for determining how closely people are related to one another.
The analysis not only revealed three distinct Caribbean people groups, but also their migration routes, which was "really stunning," Ross said.

Looking at ancient faces shows the Caribbean's earliest settlers came from the Yucatan, moving into Cuba and the Northern Antilles, which supports a previous hypothesis based on similarities in stone tools. Arawak speakers from coastal Colombia and Venezuela migrated to Puerto Rico between 800 and 200 B.C., a journey also documented in pottery.
The earliest inhabitants of the Bahamas and Hispaniola, however, were not from Cuba as commonly thought, but the Northwest Amazon—the Caribs. Around A.D. 800, they pushed north into Hispaniola and Jamaica and then the Bahamas where they were well established by the time Columbus arrived.
"I had been stumped for years because I didn't have this Bahamian component," Ross said. "Those remains were so key. This will change the perspective on the people and peopling of the Caribbean."
For Keegan, the discovery lays to rest a puzzle that pestered him for years: why a type of pottery known as Meillacoid appears in Hispaniola by A.D. 800, Jamaica around 900 and the Bahamas around 1000.
"Why was this pottery so different from everything else we see? That had bothered me," he said. "It makes sense that Meillacoid pottery is associated with the Carib expansion."
The sudden appearance of Meillacoid pottery also corresponds with a general reshuffling of people in the Caribbean after a 1,000-year period of tranquility, further evidence that "Carib invaders were on the move," Keegan said.
[b]Raiders of the lost Arawaks[/b]
So, was there any substance to the tales of cannibalism?
Possibly, Keegan said.
Arawaks and Caribs were enemies, but they often lived side by side with occasional intermarriage before blood feuds erupted, he said.
"It's almost a 'Hatfields and McCoys' kind of situation," Keegan said. "Maybe there was some cannibalism involved. If you need to frighten your enemies, that's a really good way to do it."
Whether or not it was accurate, the European perception that Caribs were cannibals had a tremendous impact on the region's history, he said. The Spanish monarchy initially insisted that indigenous people be paid for work and treated with respect, but reversed its position after receiving reports that they refused to convert to Christianity and ate human flesh.
"The crown said, 'Well, if they're going to behave that way, they can be enslaved,'" Keegan said. "All of a sudden, every native person in the entire Caribbean became a Carib as far as the colonists were concerned."
The study is published in Scientific Reports.

Explore further
Caribbean settlement began in Greater Antilles, researchers say

[b]More information:[/b] Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-56929-3
[b]Journal information:[/b] Scientific Reports 

Provided by [url=]Florida Museum of Natural History
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
JANUARY 28, 2020
Researchers develop method to assess geographic origins of ancient humans
by Matt McGowan, University of Arkansas
[Image: 16-researchersd.jpg]Credit: University of Arkansas
Working with lead isotopes taken from tooth enamel of prehistoric animals, researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a new method for assessing the geographic origins of ancient humans.

John Samuelsen, doctoral candidate in anthropology and research assistant at the Arkansas Archeological Survey, analyzed linear patterning of lead isotopes on teeth from a 600- to 800-year-old skull and mandible cemetery at the Crenshaw site in southwest Arkansas. The new method allowed the researchers to compare the ancient human teeth to those of prehistoric animals, as well as rocks and soil samples, taken from the same area.
The research, sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation, was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The Crenshaw site along the Red River is a culturally significant multiple-mound ceremonial center of the Caddo Indians. Previous studies have yielded conflicting interpretations of what the human skulls and mandibles reflect. Some research suggests the remains belonged to victims of violence who came from outside the region, while other research suggests the remains represent a local Caddo Indian burial practice of their own ancestors.
Samuelsen emphasized that a full evaluation of the human remains will be addressed in a future study, but he and Potra found that teeth of five of the 352 individuals tested with the new method contained isotopic signatures consistent with those found in the teeth of prehistoric animals from several sites in the area. Moreover, their isotopic signatures were inconsistent with isotopes from humans and animals from other regions.
"While our focus in this article is to establish a method for using lead isotopes to evaluate ancient human geographic origins," Samuelsen said, "this does suggest that at least these five individuals were from southwest Arkansas."
Lead is a toxic trace metal that affects the health of biological organisms, but it is useful for determining geographic origins. Its isotopic content within human and animal tooth enamel, via food chain pathways, reflects the geology of the region in which an organism grew up. While the lead isotopes from animal teeth were successful at identifying local human remains, versus those from other geographical areas, those isotopes taken from nearby rocks were far too variable to be useful for the same purpose, Samuelsen said. Rock analysis was done by Adriana Potra, associate professor of geosciences, who co-authored the paper.

A major research concern with lead isotope studies is modern, human-caused lead contamination found on soil, rocks and human and animal remains. If modern lead from gas, mines or industrial sources has contaminated the remains, then the lead isotopes will not reflect their original locations. Even if they are uncontaminated by modern lead, the natural soil contains lead that can affect the results similarly. For these reasons, the researchers' study used three different methods to assess contamination and provided recommendations for future research.
With these concerns in mind, the researchers performed isotopic work within the metal-free, modular Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory, a "room inside a room" clean lab at the University of Arkansas. The isotopic and trace element data were collected at the Trace Element and Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory, with help from Erik Pollock, scientific research technician in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Barry Shaulis, research associate in the Department of Geosciences. High accuracy isotopic data were collected on a multi-collector, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Drilling of teeth was performed with a Leica M80 binocular microscope, housed by Celina Suarez, associate professor of geosciences.
The research project is supervised by George Sabo, director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey. Sabo is Samuelsen's graduate advisor. The research was funded by the Department of Anthropology and the Arkansas Archeological Society, in addition to the National Science Foundation. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma to help answer questions the tribe has about the cultural affiliation and origin of the remains.

Explore further
Strontium isotope maps are disturbed by agricultural lime

[b]More information:[/b] John R. Samuelsen et al, Biologically available Pb: A method for ancient human sourcing using Pb isotopes from prehistoric animal tooth enamel, Journal of Archaeological Science (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105079
[b]Journal information:[/b] Journal of Archaeological Science [/url]

Provided by 
University of Arkansas

They identified the region between the Crimea and the northern Caucasus as the likely ancestral homeland of the Chagyrskaya toolmakers.

"This part of eastern Europe is 3000 to 4000 kilometers from Chagyrskaya Cave, the equivalent of walking from Sydney to Perth or from New York to Los Angeles—a truly epic journey," co-author Professor Roberts from UOW's Centre for Archaeological Science said.

They identified the region between the Crimea and the northern Caucasus as the likely ancestral homeland of the Chagyrskaya toolmakers.

Quote:Researchers develop method to assess geographic origins of ancient humans  Arrow 

"This part of eastern Europe is 3000 to 4000 kilometers from Chagyrskaya Cave, the equivalent of walking from Sydney to Perth or from New York to Los Angeles—a truly epic journey," co-author Professor Roberts from UOW's Centre for Archaeological Science said.
JANUARY 27, 2020
Siberian Neanderthals were intrepid nomads
[Image: siberiannean.jpg]Chagyrskaya Cave in southern Siberia’s Altai Mountains. Credit: IAET
A new study, published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that Neanderthals made an intercontinental trek of more than 3000 km to reach Siberia's Altai Mountains, equipped with a distinctive toolkit used to kill and butcher bison and horses.
Neanderthals are our nearest evolutionary cousins and survived until around 40,000 years ago in western Europe. Their legacy lives on today in the DNA of all people with European or Asian ancestry.
Neanderthal fossils were first reported from the Altai Mountains—the easternmost outpost of their known geographic range—in 2007. Nestled in the foothills, Chagyrskaya Cave has yielded 74 Neanderthal fossils, more than any other site in the region, as well as almost 90,000 stone tools and numerous bone tools made by Neanderthals.
The multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Russia, Australia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and Canada, including University of Wollongong geochronologist Professor Richard "Bert' Roberts, carried out detailed investigations of the site to discover new clues about the history of these Siberian Neanderthals.

[Image: 1-siberiannean.jpg]
Micoquian stone tool used as a meat knife by Neanderthals at Chagyrskaya Cave about 54,000 years ago. Credit: Alexander Fedorchenko
The 3.5 meter-thick cave deposits were first excavated in 2007. Dating of the sediments and the bones of butchered bison indicated that Neanderthals lived in the cave sometime between 59,000 and 49,000 years ago—shortly before modern humans first entered this region.
"The most surprising discovery was how closely the Chagyrskaya stone tools resemble Micoquian tools from archaeological sites in central and eastern Europe," project leader Dr. Kseniya Kolobova from the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk said.
Using a variety of statistical tests, Dr. Kolobova and her team of archaeologists compared the distinctive stone tools found at Chagyrskaya Cave with those recovered from Micoquian sites in Europe and central Asia. They identified the region between the Crimea and the northern Caucasus as the likely ancestral homeland of the Chagyrskaya toolmakers.
"This part of eastern Europe is 3000 to 4000 kilometers from Chagyrskaya Cave, the equivalent of walking from Sydney to Perth or from New York to Los Angeles—a truly epic journey," co-author Professor Roberts from UOW's Centre for Archaeological Science said.

Analysis of animal and plant remains extracted from the Chagyrskaya Cave deposits showed that the Neanderthals were skilled at hunting bison and horses in the cold, dry and treeless environment, while microscopic study of the sediments yielded additional clues about the living conditions they had to endure.

[Image: 2-siberiannean.jpg]
Excavation of archaeological deposits in Chagyrskaya Cave. Credit: IAET
"Neanderthals were supremely adapted to life on steppe and tundra-steppe landscapes, and could have reached the Altai Mountains from eastern Europe by going around the Caspian Sea and then east along the steppe belt," co-author and geoarchaeologist Dr. Maciej Krajcarz from the Institute of Geological Sciences in the Polish Academy of Sciences said.
The new archaeological evidence indicates at least two separate migrations of Neanderthals into southern Siberia, and is independently supported by whole-genome studies of ancient DNA obtained from Neanderthal fossils.
The first migration occurred more than 100,000 years ago, blazing a trail to the nearby site of Denisova Cave—famous as the home of the enigmatic Denisovans, a sister group to Neanderthals, who also occupied the cave at times. A more recent migration event—originating in eastern Europe possibly about 60,000 years ago—led to the arrival of Neanderthals at Chagysrkaya Cave, armed with their distinctive Micoquian toolkit.
DNA studies confirm a link between Neanderthals living in Europe and at Chagyrskaya Cave after 100,000 years ago. Despite the geographic proximity of Chagyrskaya and Denisova Caves, the Chagyrskaya Neanderthal genome is more similar to those of European Neanderthals than it is to the 110,000 year-old Neanderthal from Denisova Cave.
"By combining these new insights from archaeology and genetics, we can start to piece together the intriguing story of the easternmost Neanderthals and the events that shaped the history of our ancient human relatives," Dr. Kolobova said.

Explore further
The ancient history of Neanderthals in Europe

[b]More information:[/b] Kseniya A. Kolobova el al., "Archaeological evidence for two separate dispersals of Neanderthals into southern Siberia," PNAS (2020).
[b]Journal information:[/b] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 

Provided by University of Wollongong

The oldest skull showed strong similarities to North American arctic populations, while the second-oldest skull was consistent with modern European populations. The third skull showed affinities with Asian and Native American groups and the fourth had affinities with arctic populations in addition to having some modern South American features.

JANUARY 29, 2020
Early North Americans may have been more diverse than previously suspected
by Jeff Grabmeier, The Ohio State University
[Image: earlynortham.jpg]Original position of the skeletal remains inside submerged cave of Muknal. Credit: Jerónimo Avilés
An analysis of four ancient skulls found in Mexico suggests that the first humans to settle in North America were more biologically diverse than scientists had previously believed.

The skulls were from individuals who lived 9,000 to 13,000 years ago, in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene eras.
These findings complicate the story accepted until now, based on ancient skeletons analyzed from South America, which suggested the first settlers in the Americas were very similar, said Mark Hubbe, co-lead author of the study and professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University.
"The first Americans were much more complex, much more diverse than we thought," Hubbe said.
"We have always talked about the settlement of the Americas as if North America and South America were the same. But they are different continents with different stories of how they were settled."
Hubbe led the work with Alejandro Terrazas Mata of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico. Their work was published today (Jan. 29, 2020) in PLOS ONE.
Archaeologists discovered the four skulls between 2008 and 2015 in submerged caves in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. At the time the four people were living, the caves were above sea level.
The skulls were analyzed with a CT scan, which combines data from several X-rays to build a 3-D image of each skull.
The researchers analyzed the scans for specific landmarks on each skull and measured their positions on a 3-D grid. They then compared the position of the coordinates with skulls from reference populations from all over the world to determine which populations the skulls most resembled.
The oldest skull showed strong similarities to North American arctic populations, while the second-oldest skull was consistent with modern European populations. The third skull showed affinities with Asian and Native American groups and the fourth had affinities with arctic populations in addition to having some modern South American features.
These skulls are important because compared to South America, relatively few ancient skeletons have been found in North America, Hubbe said. Between 300 and 400 skeletons that are more than 8,000 years old have been found in South America, compared to fewer than 20 in North America.
"Not all the skulls we analyzed looked like the ones from South America. They are fairly distinct as far as the morphology," he said.
The results suggest that the initial populations that ventured from Asia into North America had a high level of biological diversity, Hubbe said. For whatever reason, that diversity was reduced as humans dispersed into South America.
"We always assumed that what was happening in South America was true in North America. Now we need to revise that.
"We need to stop talking about the settlement of the Americas. We should talk about the settlement of North America and the settlement of South America as very different."
Hubbe said the results also caution against trying to create overly simple narratives about human migration, especially in the Americas.
"Whatever we thought about the settlement of the Americas is probably not the whole story. We still have a lot to learn."

Explore further
Study of ancient skulls suggest there may have been multiple migrations into the Americas

[b]More information:[/b] Hubbe M, Terrazas Mata A, Herrera B, Benavente Sanvicente ME, González González A, Rojas Sandoval C, et al. (2020) Morphological variation of the early human remains from Quintana Roo, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico: Contributions to the discussions about the settlement of the Americas. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0227444.
[b]Journal information:[/b] PLoS ONE 

Provided by The Ohio State University

Quote:New study debunks myth of Cahokia's Native American lost civilization
[Image: newstudydebu.jpg]

A University of California, Berkeley, archaeologist has dug up ancient human feces, among other demographic clues, to challenge the narrative around the legendary demise of Cahokia, North America's most iconic pre-Columbian ...


Ninja Arrow

The data also suggest that there was a dispersal of modern humans out of Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, and this group hybridized with Neanderthals, introducing modern human DNA into the genomes of Neanderthals. According to the authors, both out-of-Africa and into-Africa dispersals must be accounted for when interpreting global patterns of genomic variation.
JANUARY 30, 2020
Modern Africans and Europeans may have more Neanderthal ancestry than previously thought
[Image: 5e32ce068c7f3.jpg]A team of Princeton researchers led by Joshua Akey found that that African individuals have considerably more Neanderthal ancestry than previously thought, which was only observable through the development of new methods. Credit: Matilda Luk, Princeton University Office of Communications
Neanderthal DNA sequences may be more common in modern Africans than previously thought, and different non-African populations have levels of Neanderthal ancestry surprisingly similar to each other, finds a study publishing January 30 in the journal Cell. Researchers arrived at these findings by developing a new statistical method, called IBDmix, to identify Neanderthal sequences in the genomes of modern humans. The results also suggest that African genomes contain Neanderthal sequences in part due to back-migration of ancestors of present-day Europeans.

"Our study is significant because it provides important new insights into human history and patterns of Neanderthal ancestry in globally diverse populations," says senior study author Joshua Akey of Princeton University. "Our results refine catalogs of genomic regions where Neanderthal sequence was deleterious and advantageous and demonstrate that remnants of Neanderthal genomes survive in every modern human population studied to date."
Past studies have suggested that East Asians have approximately 20% more Neanderthal ancestry compared to Europeans. But the new findings suggest that these estimates may have been biased due to methodological limitations. Previously developed approaches, such as S*, use a modern reference panel—usually an African population assumed to lack Neanderthal ancestry. But if the reference panel unexpectedly contains Neanderthal sequences, then the method will underestimate Neanderthal ancestry in modern humans.
To address this problem, Akey and his colleagues developed IBDmix as a new category of methods for detecting archaic ancestry. Instead of using a modern reference panel, the approach calculates the probability that an individual's genotype is shared identical by descent (IBD) with an archaic reference genome. Compared with S*, IBDmix is a less biased approach because it has higher statistical power for detecting shared archaic sequences and yields fewer false positives.
The researchers applied IBDmix to 2,504 modern individuals from the 1000 Genomes Project, which represents geographically diverse populations, and used the Altai Neanderthal reference to identify Neanderthal sequence in these individuals. They robustly identified regions of Neanderthal ancestry in Africans for the first time, identifying on average 17 megabases (Mb) of Neanderthal sequence per individual in the African samples analyzed (which corresponds to approximately 0.3% of the genome), compared with less than one megabase reported in previous studies. More than 94% of the Neanderthal sequence identified in African samples was shared with non-Africans.
The researchers also observed levels of Neanderthal ancestry in Europeans (51 Mb/individual), East Asians (55 Mb/individual), and South Asians (55 Mb/individual) that were surprisingly similar to each other. Strikingly, East Asians had only 8% more Neanderthal ancestry compared to Europeans, in contrast to previous reports of 20%. "This suggests that most of the Neanderthal ancestry that individuals have today can be traced back to a common hybridization event involving the population ancestral to all non-Africans, occurring shortly after the Out-of-Africa dispersal," Akey says.

To explore potential explanations for the unexpectedly high Neanderthal ancestry in Africans, the researchers then compared the actual data to simulated genotype data derived from different demographic models. This analysis took into account various sequence characteristics, such as the length of the shared archaic segments, the frequency of these segments in Africans, and the amount of sequence shared exclusively between African and non-African populations.
They found that Africans exclusively share 7.2% of Neanderthal sequence with Europeans, compared with only 2% with East Asians. Simulations showed that low levels of back-migration persisting over the past 20,000 years can replicate features of the data and could therefore be a possible explanation for the observed levels of ancestry among different modern populations. The results suggest that previously developed methods using an African reference population are biased toward underestimating Neanderthal ancestry to a greater extent in Europeans compared to East Asians. "Collectively, these results show that Neanderthal ancestry estimates in East Asians and Europeans were biased due to unaccounted-for back-migrations from European ancestors into Africa," Akey says.
But gene flow went in both directions. The data also suggest that there was a dispersal of modern humans out of Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, and this group hybridized with Neanderthals, introducing modern human DNA into the genomes of Neanderthals. According to the authors, both out-of-Africa and into-Africa dispersals must be accounted for when interpreting global patterns of genomic variation.
"I am struck by the fact that we often conceptualize human history in very simple terms," Akey says. "For example, we often imagine there was a single dispersal out of Africa that happened 60,000 to 80,000 years ago that led to the peopling of the world. However, our results show this history was much more interesting and there were many waves of dispersal out of Africa, some of which led to admixture between modern humans and Neanderthals that we see in the genomes of all living individuals today."
Using IBDmix, the researchers also identified 51 high-frequency Neanderthal haplotypes—sets of DNA variations that tend to be inherited together—in modern humans, including several that were undetected with previously developed methods. For the first time, they detected high-frequency Neanderthal haplotypes in Africans, and regions containing these haplotypes are enriched for genes involved in immune function and ultraviolet-radiation sensitivity. These haplotypes may reflect instances of beneficial Neanderthal sequences being rapidly driven to high frequency in modern humans through a process known as adaptive introgression. "These novel findings provide insight into the evolutionary history of these populations, the selective pressures they faced, and current variation in health and disease," Akey says.
The authors note several limitations of their approach. Because IBDmix requires an archaic reference genome, it is not suitable for discovering sequences shared between modern humans and unknown or unsequenced hominin lineages. In addition, the approach requires sequenced genomes from at least ten individuals for robust inferences. In future studies, Akey and his team plan to apply their approach to additional African populations, functionally characterize Neanderthal sequences that may be advantageous, and study the implications of these archaic sequences in modern human health and disease.

Explore further
Origin story: Rewriting human history through DNA

[b]More information:[/b] Cell, Chen et al.: "Identifying and Interpreting Apparent Neanderthal Ancestry in African Individuals" 10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.012
[b]Journal information:[/b] Cell 

Provided by [url=]Cell Press
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
[Image: ngcb2]
The Shum Laka rock shelter in Cameroon, home to an ancient population that bears little genetic resemblance to most people who live in the region today. CREDIT: Photo by Pierre de Maret.

1 Science 
First Ancient DNA From West Africa Illuminates Deep Human Past
 January 27, 2020  Eurasia Review  0 Comments
By Eurasia Review

A team of international researchers, which includes a Saint Louis University Madrid anthropologist, dug deep to find some of the oldest African DNA on record, in a new study published in [i]Nature[/i].
Africa is the homeland of our species and harbors greater human genetic diversity than any other part of the planet. Studies of ancient DNA from African archaeological sites can shed important light on the deep origins of humankind. The research team sequenced DNA from four children buried 8,000 and 3,000 years ago at Shum Laka in Cameroon, a site excavated by a Belgian and Cameroonian team 30 years ago.
The findings, “Ancient West African foragers in the context of African population history,” published in [i]Nature[/i], represent the first ancient DNA from West or Central Africa, and some of the oldest DNA recovered from an African tropical context. They enable a new understanding of the deep ancestral relationships among early Homosapiens in sub-Saharan Africa.
This study was the product of collaboration among geneticists, archaeologists, biological anthropologists and museum curators based in North America (including Harvard Medical School and the Université de Montréal); Europe (Royal Belgian Museum of Natural Sciences, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Université Libre de Bruxelles and Saint Louis University’s Madrid campus); Cameroon (University of Yaoundé, University of Buea); and China (Duke Kunshan University).

[b]A unique archaeological site with exceptional preservation[/b]
Shum Laka is a rock shelter located in the ‘Grassfields’ region of Cameroon, a place long pinpointed by linguists as the probable cradle of Bantu languages, a widespread and diverse group of languages spoken by more than a third of Africans today.
“Linguists, archaeologists and geneticists have been studying the origin and spread of Bantu languages for decades, and the Grassfields region is key to this question,” said Mary Prendergast, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology and chair of humanities at Saint Louis University’s campus in Madrid, and a co-supervising author of the study. “The consensus is that the Bantu language group originated in west-central Africa, before spreading across the southern half of the continent after about 4,000 years ago.”
This expansion is thought to be the reason why most people from central, eastern and southern Africa are genetically closely related to each other and to West Africans.
“Shum Laka is a reference point for understanding the deep history of west-central Africa,” said Isabelle Ribot, Ph.D., a University of Montreal anthropologist who excavated and studied the burials, and is a key author of the study.
The Shum Laka rockshelter was excavated in the 1980s and 1990s by archaeologists from Belgium and Cameroon. It boasts an impressive and well-dated archaeological record, with radiocarbon dates spanning the past 30,000 years. Stone tools, plant and animal remains, and eventually pottery collectively indicate long-term forest-based hunting and gathering and an eventual transition to intensive tree fruit exploitation.
Shum Laka is emblematic of the ‘Stone to Metal Age,’ a critical era in west-central African history that ultimately gave rise to Iron Age metallurgy and farming. During this era, the site repeatedly served as a burial ground for families, with 18 individuals (mainly children) buried in two major phases at about 8,000 and 3,000 years ago.
“Such burials are unique for West and Central Africa because human skeletons are exceedingly rare here prior to the Iron Age,” said Ribot. “Tropical environments and acidic soils are not kind to bone preservation, so the results from our study are really remarkable.”
Scientists at Harvard Medical School sampled petrous (inner-ear) bones from six individuals buried at Shum Laka. Four of these samples produced ancient DNA, and were directly dated at the Pennsylvania State University Radiocarbon Laboratory. The molecular preservation was impressive given the burial conditions, and enabled whole-genome ancient DNA analysis.
[b]A newly documented population of hunter-gatherers[/b]
Surprisingly, the ancient DNA sequenced from the four children – one pair buried 8,000 years ago, the other 3,000 years ago – reveals ancestry very different from that of most Bantu-speakers today. Instead, they are closer to central African hunter-gatherers.
“This result suggests that Bantu-speakers living in Cameroon and across Africa today do not descend from the population to which the Shum Laka children belonged,” said Mark Lipson, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, lead author of the study. “This underscores the ancient genetic diversity in this region and points to a previously unknown population that contributed only small proportions of DNA to present-day African groups.”
The spreads of farming and herding in Africa – as in other parts of the world – were accompanied by many movements of people.
“If you go back 5,000 years ago, virtually everyone living south of the Sahara was a hunter-gatherer,” said Prendergast. “But look at a map of Africa showing foraging groups today, and you’ll see they are very few and far between.”
This study contributes to a growing body of ancient DNA research demonstrating ancient genetic diversity and population structure that has since been erased by the demographic changes that accompanied the spread of food production.
[b]A rare paternally inherited lineage with deep roots[/b]

One of the sampled individuals – an adolescent male – carried a rare Y chromosome haplogroup (A00) found almost nowhere outside western Cameroon today. A00 is best documented among the Mbo and Bangwa ethnic groups living not far from Shum Laka, and this is the first time it has been seen in ancient DNA. A00 is a deeply divergent haplogroup, having split from all other known human lineages about 300,000-200,000 years ago. This shows that this oldest known lineage of modern human males has been present in west-central Africa for more than 8,000 years, and perhaps much longer.
[b]New light on human origins[/b]
While the findings do not speak directly to Bantu language origins, they do shed new light on multiple phases of the deep history of Homosapiens. The researchers examined the DNA of the Shum Laka children alongside published DNA from ancient hunter-gatherers from eastern and southern Africa, as well as DNA from many present-day African groups. Combining these datasets, they could construct a model of diverging lineages over the course of the human past.
“Our analysis indicates the existence of at least four major deep human lineages that contributed to people living today, and which diverged from each other between about 250,000 and 200,000 years ago,” said David Reich, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, senior author of the study.
These lineages are ancestral to present-day central African hunter-gatherers, southern African hunter-gatherers, and all other modern humans, with a fourth lineage being a previously unknown ‘ghost population’ that contributed a small amount of ancestry to both western and eastern Africans.
“This quadruple radiation–including the position of a deeply-splitting ‘ghost’ modern human lineage–had not been identified before from DNA,” Reich said.
Previous models for human origins suggested that present-day southern African hunter-gatherers, who split from other populations about 250,000-200,000 years ago, represent the deepest known branch of modern human variation. However, Lipson said, “the new analysis suggests that the lineage contributing to central African hunter-gatherers is similarly ancient and diverged from other African populations around the same time.”
This finding adds to a growing consensus among archaeologists and geneticists that human origins in Africa may have involved deeply divergent, geographically separated populations.
Analysis also revealed another set of four human lineages branching between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago, including the lineages contributing most the ancestry in present-day eastern and western Africans and all non-Africans.
Considering this new model of human population relationships, the authors could show that about one third of the ancestry of the Shum Laka children derived from a lineage closely related to central African hunter-gatherers, and about two thirds of their ancestry came from a distinctive lineage distantly related to a majority of present-day West Africans.
“These results highlight how the human landscape in Africa just a few thousand years ago was profoundly different from what it is today, and emphasize the power of ancient DNA to lift the veil over the human past that has been cast by recent population movements,” Reich said.
[b]International collaboration[/b]
The international research team plans to return to Shum Laka this year, in part to help communicate findings to the Cameroonian academic and broader communities. “Interdisciplinary collaborations like this one are an essential part of ancient DNA research,” says Reich.
[b]Key Take-Aways[/b]
The study examines DNA from four people buried in the Shum Laka rockshelter in Cameroon, about 8,000 years ago and 3,000 years ago, at the transition from the Stone to Iron Ages. This study reports the first ancient DNA recovered from West or Central Africa, and includes some of the oldest DNA recovered from the African tropics.
This part of west-central Africa – the ‘Grassfields’ region of Cameroon – has been identified as the probable cradle of Bantu languages, the most widespread and diverse group of languages in Africa today. For decades, linguists, archaeologists, and geneticists have investigated the origin of Bantu languages and their spread.
None of the sampled individuals from Shum Laka are closely related to most present-day Bantu-speakers. Instead, they were part of a separate population that lived in the region for at least five millennia, and was later almost completely replaced by very different populations whose descendants comprise most people living in Cameroon today.
The Shum Laka individuals harbored about two-thirds of their ancestry from a previously unknown lineage distantly related to present-day West Africans and about one-third of their ancestry from a lineage related to present-day central African hunter-gatherers. This finding reveals previously unknown genetic diversity prior to the spread of food production.
Analysis of whole-genome ancient DNA data from these individuals provided insights into the relationships among several early-branching African human lineages. Results suggest that lineages leading to today’s central African hunter-gatherers, southern African hunter-gatherers, and all other modern humans diverged in close succession about 250,000-200,000 years ago.
Another set of genetic divergences was identified dating to about 80,000-60,000 years ago, including the lineage leading to all present-day non-Africans.
These findings strengthen arguments recently made by archaeologists and geneticists that human origins in Africa may have involved deeply divergent, geographically separated populations.
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Evolution waits for no man.

Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
plural rural(S)

Quote:RE: Back to the garden(S)... Arrow 
FEBRUARY 14, 2020

5,200-year-old grains in the eastern Altai Mountains redate trans-Eurasian crop exchange

[Image: 5200yearoldg.jpg]A photo of the stone men (Chimulchek Culture) in the steppe area of Altai Mountains. These figures are characteristic of the peoples who lived in the area around the time of occupation at Tongtian. These specific examples are located at the Chimulchek site (ca. 4000 years old) and not far from Tongtian Cave. Ceramic sherds from the cave suggest that the occupants in the cave shared similar cultural traits to other people in the region. Credit: Jianjun Yu
Cereals from the Fertile Crescent and broomcorn millet from northern China spread across the ancient world, integrating into complex farming systems that used crop-rotation cycles enabled by the different ecological regions of origin. The resulting productivity allowed for demographic expansions and imperial formation in Europe and Asia. In this study, an international, interdisciplinary team of scientists illustrate that people moved these crops across Eurasia earlier than previously realized, adapting cultivation methods for harsh agricultural environments.

Most people are familiar with the historical Silk Road, but fewer people realize that the exchange of items, ideas, technology, and human genes through the mountain valleys of Central Asia started almost three millennia before organized trade networks formed. These pre-Silk Road exchange routes played an important role in shaping human cultural developments across Europe and Asia, and facilitated the dispersal of technologies such as horse breeding and metal smelting into East Asia. One of the most impactful effects of this process of ancient cultural dispersal was the westward spread of northeast Asian crops and the eastward spread of southwest Asian crops. However, until the past few years, a lack of archaeo-botanical studies in Central Asia left a dearth of data relating to when and how this process occurred.
This new study, led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, provides details of recently recovered ancient grains from the far northern regions of Inner Asia. Radiocarbon dating shows that the grains include the oldest examples of wheat and barley ever recovered this far north in Asia, pushing back the dates for early farming in the region by at least a millenium. These are also the earliest domesticated plants reported from the northern half of Central Asia, the core of the ancient exchange corridor. This study pulls together sedimentary pollen and ancient wood charcoal data with archaeobotanical remains from the Tiangtian archaeological site in the Chinese Altai Mountains to reveal how humans cultivated crops at such northern latitudes. This study illustrates how adaptable ancient crop plants were to new ecological constraints and how human cultural practices allowed people to survive in unpredictable environments.

[Image: 1-5200yearoldg.jpg]

Dr. Xinying Zhou and his team from the IVPP in Beijing excavated the Tangtian Cave site during the summer of 2016. Credit: Xinying Zhou
[b]The Northern Dispersal of Cereal Grains[/b]
The ancient relatives of wheat and barley plants evolved to grow in the warm and dry climate of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia. However, this study illustrates that ancient peoples were cultivating these grasses over five and a half thousand kilometers to the northeast of where they originally evolved to grow. In this study, Dr. Xinying Zhou and his colleagues integrate paleo-environmental proxies to determine how extreme the ecology was around the archaeological cave site of Tangtian more than five millennia ago, at the time of its occupation. The site is located high in the Altai Mountains on a cold, dry landscape today; however, the study shows that the ecological setting around the site was slightly warmer and more humid at the time when people lived in and around this cave.

The slightly warmer regional conditions were likely the result of shifting air masses bringing warmer, wetter air from the south. In addition to early farmers using a specific regional climate pocket to grow crops in North Asia, analysis showed that the crops they grew evolved to survive in such northern regions. The results of this study provide scholars with evidence for when certain evolutionary changes in these grasses occurred, including changes in the programed reliance of day length, which signals to the plant when to flower, and a greater resistance to cold climates.

[Image: 2-5200yearoldg.jpg]

Charred seeds from Tontian Cave site. Credit: Xinying Zhou
[b]The Trans-Eurasian Exchange and Crop Dispersal[/b]
The ancient dispersal of crops across Inner Asia has received a lot of attention from biologists and archaeologists in recent years. As Dr. Spengler, one of the study's lead authors, discusses in his recent book Fruit from the Sands, these ancient exchange routes shaped the course of human history. The mingling of crops originating from opposite ends of Asia resulted in the crop-rotation cycles that fueled demographic growth and led to imperial formation.
East Asian millets would become one of the most important crops in ancient Europe, and wheat would become one of the most important crops in East Asia by the Han Dynasty. While the long tradition of rice cultivation in East Asia made rice a staple of the Asian kitchen, Chinese cuisine would be unrecognizable without wheat-based food items like steamed buns, dumplings, and noodles. The discovery that these plants dispersed across Eurasia earlier than previously understood will have lasting impacts on the study of cultivation and labor practices in ancient Eurasia, as well as the history cultural contact and shifts in culinary systems throughout time.
These new discoveries provide reason to question these views, and seem to suggest that mixed small-scale human populations made major contributions to world history through migration and cultural and technological exchange. "This study not only presents the earliest dates for domesticated grains in far North Asia," says Professor Xiaoqiang Li, director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, "it represents the earliest beginning of a trans-Eurasian exchange that would eventually develop into the great Silk Road."
Dr. Xinying Zhou, who headed the study and directs a research team at the IVPP in Beijing, emphasizes that "this discovery is a testament to human ingenuity and the amazing coevolutionary bond between people and the plants that they maintain in their cultivated fields."

Explore further
Origins and spread of Eurasian fruits traced to the ancient Silk Road

[b]More information:[/b] Xinying Zhou et al, 5,200-year-old cereal grains from the eastern Altai Mountains redate the trans-Eurasian crop exchange, Nature Plants (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0581-y
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Plants [/url]

Provided by [url=]Max Planck Society

ghost host(S)

Quote:RE: ... origin(S) of mankind(S). Arrow

'Ghost' DNA found in some West African people
by Bob Yirka ,
[Image: 5e453c3da0f5f.jpg]Demography relating known and proposed archaic lineages to modern human populations. (A) Basic demographic model with CSFS fit. W Afr, West Africans; Eur, European; N, Neanderthal; D, Denisovan; UA, unknown archaic [see (18)]. Below, we show the CSFS in the West African YRI when restricting to SNPs where a randomly sampled allele from the high-coverage Vindija Neanderthal was observed to be derived [Neanderthal (data)], as well as where a randomly sampled allele from the high-coverage Denisovan genome was observed to be derived [Denisovan (data)]. We also show the CSFS under the proposed model [Neanderthal (model) and Denisova (model)]. Migration between Europe and West Africa introduces an excess of low-frequency variants but does not capture the decrease in intermediate frequency variants and increase in high-frequency variants. (B) Newly proposed model involving introgression into the modern human ancestor from an unknown hominin that separated from the human ancestor before the split of modern humans and the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans. Below, we show the CSFS fit from the proposed model, which captures the U-shape observed in the data. Credit: Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5097
A team of researchers at the University of California, has found evidence of "ghost" DNA in some modern West African people. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of genetic samples collected from the Yoruba and Mende groups and what they found.

Prior research has shown that approximately 800,000 years ago, two groups of hominins diverged from a common ancestor—they have become known as the Denisovans and Neanderthals. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence that suggests a prior group split off from the same common ancestor 200,000 years earlier.
The researchers were studying the lineages of the Yorùbá of southwestern Nigeria and the Mende people of Sierra Leone. The researchers found some non-modern human DNA in samples. That led them to compare the non-human segments to Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA. When they found no match, the researchers were forced to conclude that the DNA was from a common ancestor that diverged over 1 million years ago. Since no fossils of this other ancestor have ever been found, the researchers dubbed their genetic remnants "ghost" DNA. Further study of the gene snippets showed that they were introduced into the modern human genome approximately 24,000 years ago.
The researchers also found that the percentage of the ghost DNA in the Yorùbá and Mende people ranged from two to 19 percent. And those genes were of a type that would have been involved in suppressing tumors and regulating hormones. Due to the percentages found in modern humans, it appears likely that they spread quickly, which indicates widespread interbreeding with West African people for a short time. The team also found evidence of the same DNA in a few people of Han Chinese descent living in Beijing and some westerners living in the U.S., but those cases have not yet been studied more closely.
The researchers plan to continue to their study of the ghost genes, hoping to learn more about their role in the genome and why they persisted so well in West African people for such a long period of time.

Explore further
Fossil find suggests Denisovan fingers looked more like modern human fingers than Neanderthal fingers

[b]More information:[/b] Arun Durvasula et al. Recovering signals of ghost archaic introgression in African populations, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5097
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
My comment about our DNA is that we've NEVER been alone in the Universe; ancient Aliens have been meddling with since BEFORE the big Flood of Noah. So there's NO 'straight lineage' among ALL species of humans.

That's why our Moon is a "SpaceShip" with many types of Aliens have the North Pole to themselves and are letting humans to start interactions by letting them in the BACK door in the SOUTH polar regions.

A water map of the Moon shows MORE water in the northern hemisphere, than the south hemisphere.  Although the South pole has more 'shadowed' craters the might have more water-ice than the North Pole itself.

But there are MANY underground bases they've built in the Moon and on Mars. imho

Bob... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]
Quote:So there's NO 'straight lineage' among ALL species of humans.

The new study has solved that puzzle and in doing so, it has documented the earliest known interbreeding event between ancient human populations—a group known as the "super-archaics"

Holycowsmile [i]"super-archaics"[/i]
FEBRUARY 20, 2020
Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

[Image: 5745df410eed8.jpg]Credit: C0 Public Domain
For three years, anthropologist Alan Rogers has attempted to solve an evolutionary puzzle. His research untangles millions of years of human evolution by analyzing DNA strands from ancient human species known as hominins. Like many evolutionary geneticists, Rogers compares hominin genomes looking for genetic patterns such as mutations and shared genes. He develops statistical methods that infer the history of ancient human populations.

In 2017, Rogers led a study which found that two lineages of ancient humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans, separated much earlier than previously thought and proposed a bottleneck population size. It caused some controversy—anthropologists Mafessoni and Prüfer argued that their method for analyzing the DNA produced different results. Rogers agreed, but realized that neither method explained the genetic data very well.
"Both of our methods under discussion were missing something, but what?" asked Rogers, professor of anthropology at the University of Utah.
The new study has solved that puzzle and in doing so, it has documented the earliest known interbreeding event between ancient human populations—a group known as the "super-archaics" in Eurasia interbred with a Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestor about 700,000 years ago. The event was between two populations that were more distantly related than any other recorded. The authors also proposed a revised timeline for human migration out of Africa and into Eurasia. The method for analyzing ancient DNA provides a new way to look farther back into the human lineage than ever before.
"We've never known about this episode of interbreeding and we've never been able to estimate the size of the super-archaic population," said Rogers, lead author of the study. "We're just shedding light on an interval on human evolutionary history that was previously completely dark."
The paper was published on Feb. 20, 2020, in the journal [i]Science Advances
[b]Out of Africa and interbreeding[/b]
Rogers studied the ways in which mutations are shared among modern Africans and Europeans, and ancient Neanderthals and Denisovans. The pattern of sharing implied five episodes of interbreeding, including one that was previously unknown. The newly discovered episode involves interbreeding over 700,000 years ago between a distantly related "super-archaic" population which separated from all other humans around two million years ago, and the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
The super-archaic and Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestor populations were more distantly related than any other pair of human populations previously known to interbreed. For example, modern humans and Neanderthals had been separated for about 750,000 years when they interbred. The super-archaics and Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestors were separated for well over a million years.
"These findings about the timing at which interbreeding happened in the human lineage is telling something about how long it takes for reproductive isolation to evolve," said Rogers.
The authors used other clues in the genomes to estimate when the ancient human populations separated and their effective population size. They estimated the super-archaic separated into its own species about two million years ago. This agrees with human fossil evidence in Eurasia that is 1.85 million years old.
The researchers also proposed there were three waves of human migration into Eurasia. The first was two million years ago when the super-archaics migrated into Eurasia and expanded into a large population. Then 700,000 years ago, Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestors migrated into Eurasia and quickly interbred with the descendants of the super-archaics. Finally, modern humans expanded to Eurasia 50,000 years ago where we know they interbred with other ancient humans, including with the Neanderthals.
"I've been working for the last couple of years on this different way of analyzing genetic data to find out about history," said Rogers. "It's just gratifying that you come up with a different way of looking at the data and you end up discovering things that people haven't been able to see with other methods."

Explore further
New look at archaic DNA rewrites human evolution story

[b]More information:[/b] A.R. Rogers el al., "Neanderthal-Denisovan ancestors interbred with a distantly related hominin," [i]Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay5483 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances [/url]

Provided by 
University of Utah


Quote:So there's NO 'straight lineage' among ALL species of humans.
One idea is that they can originate seemingly from nothing: over long, evolutionary timescales, a completely novel gene can emerge de novo out of a region in the genome that is made up of junk DNA.

FEBRUARY 17, 2020
De novo genes far more common and important than scientists thought

by Thomas Deane, Trinity College Dublin
[Image: 8-gene.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Scientists from Trinity and the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that de novo genes—genes that have evolved from scratch—are both more common and more important than previously believed.

Their findings appear in two studies, one forthcoming in [i]eLife
 and one that was published earlier this month in Nature Communications.
[b]DNA, genes, and de novo orphans[/b]
Over time, genes change via random mutations. Some of these changes result in serious defects and are rarely passed on to the next generations, others have little impact, and others confer significant advantages, which become favoured due to natural selection and end up being passed on to future generations.
This is the main source of genetic novelty and how organisms differ from each other. However, genetic novelty can also be generated by totally new genes evolving from scratch.
In the eLIFE study, the scientists devised a way of assessing just how frequently genes seem to evolve from scratch. Their results were surprising.
Explaining de novo genes, first author on the paper, Nikolaos Vakirlis, Trinity, said:
"Most of the genes in a genome have 'cousins' in the genomes of other species; genes made up of similar DNA sequences that, once translated into proteins, perform similar functions. However, some genes are unique and can only be found in a single, or small number of closely related species. We call these 'orphan genes' because they appear to have no relatives and are often responsible for unique characteristics and abilities of organisms. For example, a gene that is unique to cod fish living in the arctic allows them to survive in sub-zero temperatures."
Orphan genes pose a tough evolutionary problem though. They don't look like other genes, so where do they come from? One idea is that they can originate seemingly from nothing: over long, evolutionary timescales, a completely novel gene can emerge de novo out of a region in the genome that is made up of junk DNA. Alternatively, with enough time, two 'cousin' genes can diverge so much that we can no longer identify the relationship between them. Thus, a gene may at a glance appear to be an orphan without having really emerged de novo.

[b]A new approach to assessing de novo gene frequency[/b]
For a long time, scientists thought the majority of orphan genes were simply cases of 'missing relatives', which could be explained by the divergence of the sequences through mutations during evolution. The new research suggests this is not the case.
Aoife McLysaght, professor in genetics at Trinity College Dublin, said:
"To our surprise, at most, around one third of orphan genes result from divergence. So, in turn, this suggests that most unique genes in the species we looked at are the result of other processes, including de novo emergence, which is therefore much more frequent than scientists initially thought."
[b]Are de novo emerging genes important?[/b]
In the second piece of research, published recently in leading journal Nature Communications, the scientists sought an answer to the obvious question: Are de novo emerging genes important?
This may seem a paradoxical question because something that has not yet emerged fully in the world of evolution wouldn't be expected to be overly important. After all, how can a gene that was never used before suddenly appear and play a major role?
This paradox can be resolved if emerging genes have high potential to be beneficial for the organism. So, while they are expected to play no particular role in their current form, random changes that affect their sequences or increase the amount of protein they produce when translated should lead to beneficial effects.
The scientists tested whether this hypothesis may be true by doing a series of biological and computational experiments using baker's yeast as a model organism. And when they artificially allowed emerging sequences to be expressed at higher levels than they are naturally, the cells tended to grow faster.
Importantly, growth was not enhanced by overexpressing established genes. So, emerging sequences do indeed carry the potential to be important to the cells.
Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis, Ph.D., assistant professor of computational systems biology at the University of Pittsburgh, said:
"Order seems like something that's hard to achieve, but our results go completely opposite to that. We found that simple order is rampant everywhere in the genome. The propensity to make simple shapes that are stable is already there, waiting to be exposed. De novo gene birth is thus becoming less and less mysterious as we better understand molecular innovation."

Explore further
Female fly genomes also populated with de novo genes derived from ancestral sequences

[b]More information:[/b] Nikolaos Vakirlis et al. De novo emergence of adaptive membrane proteins from thymine-rich genomic sequences, [i]Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14500-z
[b]Journal information:[/b] eLife  Nature Communications 

Provided by Trinity College Dublin

FEBRUARY 19, 2020
New mathematical model reveals how major groups arise in evolution

[Image: evolution.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Researchers at Uppsala University and the University of Leeds presents a new mathematical model of patterns of diversity in the fossil record, which offers a solution to Darwin's "abominable mystery" and strengthens our understanding of how modern groups originate. The research is published in the journal [i]Science Advances

The origins of many major groups of organisms in the fossil record seem to lie shrouded in obscurity. Indeed, one of the most famous examples, the flowering plants, was called "an abominable mystery" by Darwin. Many modern groups appear abruptly, and their predecessors—if there are any—tend to be few in number and vanish quickly from the fossil record shortly afterwards. Conversely, once groups are established, they tend to be dominant for long periods of time until interrupted by the so-called "mass extinctions" such as the one at the end of the Cretaceous period some 66 million years ago.
Such patterns appear surprising, and often seem to be contradicted by the results from "molecular clocks"—using calibrated rates of change of molecules found in living organisms to estimate when they started to diverge from each other. How can this conflict be resolved, and what can we learn from it?
In a paper, Graham Budd, Uppsala University, and Richard Mann, University of Leeds, present a novel mathematical model for how the origin of modern groups based on a so-called "birth-death" process of speciation and extinction. Birth-death models show how random extinction and speciation events give rise to large-scale patterns of diversity through time. Budd and Mann show that the ancestral forms of modern groups are typically rather few in number, and once they give rise to the modern group, they can be expected to quickly go extinct. The modern group, conversely, tends to diversify very quickly and thus swamp out the ancestral forms. Thus, rather surprisingly, living organisms capture a great percentage of all the diversity there has ever been.
The only exceptions to these patterns are caused by the "mass extinctions," of which there have been at least five throughout history, which can massively delay the origin of the modern group, and thus extend the longevity and the diversity of the ancestral forms, called "stem groups." A good example of this is the enormous diversity of the dinosaurs, which properly considered are stem-group birds. The meteorite impact at the end of the Cretaceous some 66 million years ago killed off nearly all of them, apart from a tiny group that survived and flourished to give rise to the more than 10,000 species of living birds.
The new model explains many puzzling features about the fossil record and suggests that it often records a relatively accurate picture of the origin of major groups. This in turn suggests that increased scrutiny should be paid to molecular clock models when they significantly disagree with what the fossil record might be telling us.

Explore further
Well established theories on patterns in evolution might be wrong

[b]More information:[/b] Graham Budd and Richard Mann. The dynamics of stem and crown groups. [i]Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1626 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances 

Provided by Uppsala University


FEBRUARY 18, 2020
Discovery at 'flower burial' site could unravel mystery of Neanderthal death rites

[Image: discoveryatf.jpg]The Neanderthal skull, flattened by thousands of years of sediment and rock fall, in situ in Shanidar Cave, Iraqi Kurdistan. Credit: Graeme Barker
The first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to come out of the ground for over 20 years has been unearthed at one of the most important sites of mid-20th century archaeology: Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Researchers say the new find offers an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the "mortuary practices" of this lost species using the latest technologies.
Shanidar Cave was excavated in the 1950s, when archaeologist Ralph Solecki uncovered partial remains of ten Neanderthal men, women and children.
Some were clustered together, with clumps of ancient pollen surrounding one of the skeletons. Solecki claimed this showed Neanderthals buried their dead and conducted funerary rites with flowers.
The 'flower burial' captured the public imagination, and prompted a reappraisal of a species that—prior to Shanidar Cave—was thought to have been dumb and animalistic.
It also sparked a decades-long controversy over whether evidence from this extraordinary site did actually point to death rituals, or burial of any kind, and if Neanderthals were really capable of such cultural sophistication.
More than 50 years later, a team of researchers have reopened the old Solecki trench to collect new sediment samples, and discovered the crushed skull and torso bones of another Shanidar Neanderthal.
The discovery has been named Shanidar Z by researchers from Cambridge, Birkbeck and Liverpool John Moores universities.

[Image: 1-discoveryatf.jpg]
View of the entrance to Shanidar Cave, in the foothills of the Baradost Mountains of North-East Iraqi Kurdistan. Credit: Graeme Barker
The work was conducted in conjunction with the Kurdistan General Directorate of Antiquities and the Directorate of Antiquities for Soran Province. The find is announced today in a paper published in the journal [i]Antiquity.
"So much research on how Neanderthals treated their dead has to involve returning to finds from sixty or even a hundred years ago, when archaeological techniques were more limited, and that only ever gets you so far," said Dr. Emma Pomeroy, from Cambridge's Department of Archaeology, lead author of the new paper.
"To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death, and whether they were similar to our own."
Ralph Solecki died last year aged 101, having never managed to conduct further excavations at his most famous site, despite several attempts.

In 2011, the Kurdish Regional Government approached Professor Graeme Barker from Cambridge's McDonald Institute of Archaeology about revisiting Shanidar Cave. With Solecki's enthusiastic support, initial digging began in 2014, but stopped after two days when ISIS got too close. It resumed the following year.
"We thought with luck we'd be able to find the locations where they had found Neanderthals in the 1950s, to see if we could date the surrounding sediments," said Barker. "We didn't expect to find any Neanderthal bones."
In 2016, in one of the deepest parts of the trench, a rib emerged from the wall, followed by a lumbar vertebra, then the bones of a clenched right hand. However, metres of sediment needed carefully digging out before the team could excavate the skeleton.
During 2018-19 they went on to uncover a complete skull, flattened by thousands of years of sediment, and upper body bones almost to the waist—with the left hand curled under the head like a small cushion.

[Image: 2-discoveryatf.jpg]
The bones of the Neanderthal's left hand emerging from the sediment in Shanidar Cave. Credit: Graeme Barker
Early analysis suggests it is over 70,000 years old. While the sex is yet to be determined, the latest Neanderthal discovery has the teeth of a "middle- to older-aged adult".
Shanidar Z has now been brought on loan to the archaeological labs at Cambridge, where it is being conserved and scanned to help build a digital reconstruction, as more layers of silt are removed.
The team is also working on sediment samples from around the new find, looking for signs of climate change in fragments of shell and bone from ancient mice and snails, as well as traces of pollen and charcoal that could offer insight into activities such as cooking and the famous 'flower burial'.
Four of the Neanderthals, including the 'flower burial' and the latest find, formed what researchers describe as a "unique assemblage". It raises the question of whether Neanderthals were returning to the same spot within the cave to inter their dead.
A prominent rock next to the head of Shanidar Z may have been used as a marker for Neanderthals repeatedly depositing their dead, says Pomeroy, although whether time between deaths was weeks, decades or even centuries will be difficult to determine.
"The new excavation suggests that some of these bodies were laid in a channel in the cave floor created by water, which had then been intentionally dug to make it deeper," said Barker. "There is strong early evidence that Shanidar Z was deliberately buried."
CT-scans in Cambridge have revealed the petrous bone—one of the densest in the body; a wedge at the base of the skull—to be intact, offering hope of retrieving ancient Neanderthal DNA from the hot, dry region where "interbreeding" most likely took place as humans spilled out of Africa.
Added Pomeroy: "In recent years we have seen increasing evidence that Neanderthals were more sophisticated than previously thought, from cave markings to use of decorative shells and raptor talons.
"If Neanderthals were using Shanidar cave as a site of memory for the repeated ritual interment of their dead, it would suggest cultural complexity of a high order."

Explore further
Wind and insect patterns dispel myth of 'finer feelings' in Neanderthal burial rituals

[b]More information:[/b] Emma Pomeroy et al, New Neanderthal remains associated with the 'flower burial' at Shanidar Cave, [i]Antiquity (2020). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2019.207
[b]Journal information:[/b] Antiquity 

Provided by University of Cambridge

FEBRUARY 17, 2020
Ancient plant foods discovered in Arnhem Land
[Image: ancientplant.jpg]Credit: University of Queensland
Australia's first plant foods—eaten by early populations 65,000 years ago—have been discovered in Arnhem Land.

Preserved as pieces of charcoal, the morsels were recovered from the debris of ancient cooking hearths at the Madjedbebe archaeological site, on Mirarr country in northern Australia.
University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin said a team of archaeologists and Traditional Owners identified 10 plant foods, including several types of fruits and nuts, underground storage organs ('roots and tubers'), and palm stem.
"By working with Elders and co-authors May Nango and Djaykuk Djandjomerr, the team was also able to explain how the plants were likely used at Madjedbebe," Ms Florin said.
"Many of these plant foods required processing to make them edible and this evidence was complemented by grinding stone technology also used during early occupation at the site."
"The First Australians had a great deal of botanical knowledge and this was one of the things that allowed them to adapt to and thrive in this new environment.
"They were able to guarantee access to carbohydrates, fat and even protein by applying this knowledge, as well as technological innovation and labour, to the gathering and processing of Australian plant foods."
Madjedbebe is a sandstone rock shelter at the base of the Arnhem Land escarpment, and is Australia's oldest documented site.
Excavation director Professor Chris Clarkson from UQ's School of Social Science said he was surprised and delighted by the quantity of archaeobotanical evidence recovered from the site.
"Madjedbebe continues to provide startling insights into the complex and dynamic lifestyle of the earliest Australian Aboriginal people," Professor Clarkson said.
The oldest occupation layer at Madjedbebe also holds evidence for the oldest edge ground stone axes in the world, the earliest grindstone technology outside Africa, the early shaping of stone spearheads, many kilograms of ground ochre, and the first recorded use of reflective pigments in the world.
"The site is an important cultural place to Mirarr people today who strive to protect their heritage from numerous threats, including mining," Ms Florin said.
Justin O'Brien, CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners, said that research on country—working in meaningful partnership with Traditional Owners—was a powerful way to share Mirarr's enduring culture with a broader audience.
The study is published in Nature Communications.

Explore further
Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years

[b]More information:[/b] S. Anna Florin et al. The first Australian plant foods at Madjedbebe, 65,000–53,000 years ago, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14723-0
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Communications 

Provided by [url=]University of Queensland
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
RE: Back to the garden(S)...

FEBRUARY 27, 2020
Anthropogenic seed dispersal: Rethinking the origins of plant domestication
[Image: anthropogeni.jpg]A photo of an ear from a wild barley plant, with the ripe seeds naturally shattering off due to the brittle rachis or stem structure at their base. In the wild, this brittle rachis allows the plant to spread its seed up to two meters from the parent plant, which is a rather weak dispersal mechanism and not characteristic of the other crop progenitor plants. The barley that we eat today evolved tougher rachises as part of the mutualistic relationship they evolved with humans. Humans have dispersed barley plants all over the world. Credit: Robert Spengler
The plants consumed for food have changed drastically in the 10,000 years since humans began practicing agriculture, but hominids have been intensively interacting with the plants and animals around them since before the dawn of our species. As humans became aware of the ability to modify crops through selective breeding, the evolution of new traits in plants greatly increased. However, plants have been evolving in response to human selective pressures since long before people began consciously altering them through breeding.

In a new study published in Trends in Plant Science, Dr. Robert Spengler examines these evolutionary responses and theorizes that all of the earliest traits to evolve in the wild relatives of modern domesticated crops are linked to human seed dispersal and the evolutionary need for a plant to spread its offspring.
[b]Domestication syndrome and the emergence of similar traits[/b]
Many of the earliest traits of domestication in plants are similar across different crop species, a phenomenon evolutionary biologists refer to as parallel evolution. For example, in all large-seeded grass crops—e.g. wheat, barley, rice, oats—the first trait of domestication is a toughening of the rachis (the individual stem that holds a cereal grain to the ear). Likewise, in all large-seeded legumes, such as peas, lentils, fava beans, and kidney beans, the earliest trait of domestication is a non-shattering pod.
Archaeobotanists studying early plant domestication agree that the evolution of tougher rachises in cereal crops was a result of humans using sickles to harvest grains. During a harvest, the specimens with the most brittle rachises lost their seeds, whereas the plants with tougher rachises benefited from having their seeds protected and saved for the following year. Humans then cleared away competitive plants (weeding), tilled soil, sowed seeds, and maintained the crops until the next harvest. We can assume that the same process occurred for legumes.
For nearly a century, scholars have been aware of the fact that this parallel evolution was the result of similar selective pressures from people in different centers of domestication around the world, leading to what many researchers call "domestication syndrome." In the simplest biological sense, Spengler suggests, humans provide better seed-dispersal services for food crops than those plants would have had in the wild, causing them to evolve traits that facilitated agriculture and improved their own chances of reproduction.

[Image: 1-anthropogeni.jpg]
The wild progenitors of domesticated legumes, such as this wild relative of grass peas (Lathyrus), explode and shoot out their seeds when they are ripe. The first steps towards domestication included a loss of this trait in favor of retaining seeds in their pods for humans to collect. Humans then became the obligate dispersers for these domesticated legumes. Credit: Robert Spengler
[b]The Evolution of Seed-Dispersal Traits in Crops[/b]
Archaeobotanists have studied seed-dispersal traits in the wild relatives of cereal and legume crops, but few have discussed how the wild relatives of other crops dispersed their seeds. In this manuscript, Spengler steps away from the heavy focus on these few plants and looks at the wild seed-dispersal processes in other crops.

Spengler notes that before the last Ice Age, megafaunal mammals, including humans, were key for the evolution of larger fruits in the wild. While some plants have mechanical methods of seed dispersal, the most common way plants spread their seeds is by recruiting animals to do it for them. Bright red cherries, for example, have evolved to entice birds with red-green color vision. The birds consume the sugary fruit, then fly to a new area and deposit the seed from the cherry. Larger fruits, however, require larger animals to distribute them, meaning the progenitor plants for most of the fruits in our produce markets today evolved to be spread by large mammals. Paleontologists have previously noted the parallel evolution of larger fruits to entice larger animals in many unrelated plant families, a process that Spengler reveals to be mirrored in the evolution of crops cultivated by humans.
Spengler also theorizes that megafaunal mammals may have been key to the dispersal of seeds in the progenitors of small-seeded grains, such as quinoa, millets, and buckwheat. With smooth, hard-shelled seeds that grow at the top of the plant, no secondary defensive compounds or thorns, and a rapid rate of growth, the foliage of these plants are the perfect food for grazing animals. The small size of these wild seeds may have been an evolutionary adaptation that allowed them to pass successfully through the digestive systems of hooved mammals, which often only allow seeds smaller than 2mm to pass. Conceptualizing domestication as seed-dispersal based evolution, as Spengler proposes, explains why the first traits of domestication in all of the small-seeded annual crops were thinning of the seed coat, an increase in seed size, and breaking of dormancy—a reversal of the traits that allowed for seed dispersal by grazing mammals. The domestication process severed the mutualistic ties these plants had with their wild seed dispersers and made them dependent upon humans for dispersal.

[Image: 2-anthropogeni.jpg]
A wild barley grain with a zoomed in image of the base of the rachis. In this wild form, the rachis cleanly snaps off of the ear of barley when it is ripe. In the domesticated form, the rachis has to be forcibly pulled off of the ear causing a jagged break. Archaeobotanists look for specimens with the jagged break as the first indication of plants evolving in response to human cultivation practices. Credit: Robert Spengler
[b]Understanding Plant Domestication as Seed-Dispersal-Based Mutualism[/b]
During the Early and Mid-Holocene, plants in specific locations around the world started to evolve new traits in response to human cultivation practices. As human populations increased in size and became more concentrated, the selective pressures that people placed on these plants increased. In the wild, plants often evolve mutualistic relationships in response to heavy herbivory pressures. The same evolutionary responses, Spengler argues, can be seen in farmers' fields during the early steps towards domestication, with plants developing traits to better use humans as seed dispersers.
"Humans are the best seed dispersers that have ever existed, dispersing plant species all over the world," Spengler says. "We are currently removing all competitive plant species across the Amazon to spread soybean seeds—a plant that originally evolved traits for a mutualistic relationship with humans in East Asia. Likewise, most of the prairies of the American Midwest have been removed in order to grow maize, a crop that evolved to recruit humans in tropical southern Mexico. Humans are powerful seed dispersers and plants will readily evolve new traits to spread their seeds and colonize new areas more successfully."
Dr. Spengler is the director of the archaeobotanical laboratories at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. "It is important look at the domestication of plants from an evolutionary ecology perspective and seek to find parallels between the evolution of plants in the wild and during early cultivation," says Spengler. "By modeling domestication as an equivalent process to evolution in the wild and setting aside the idea of conscious human innovation, we can more effectively study the questions of why and how this process occurred."

Explore further
Grazing animals drove domestication of grain crops

[b]More information:[/b] Anthropogenic Seed Dispersal: Rethinking the Origins of Plant Domestication, Trends in Plant Science (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2020.01.005
[b]Journal information:[/b] Trends in Plant Science [/url]

Provided by 
Max Planck Society

[Image: 2-thenoahsarko.jpg]

Arctic 'doomsday vault' stocks up on 60,000 more food seeds
A "doomsday vault" nestled deep in the Arctic received 60,000 new seed samples on Tuesday, including Prince Charles' cowslips and Cherokee sacred corn, increasing stocks of the world's agricultural bounty in case of global ...

RE: ...origin(S) of mankind(S).

FEBRUARY 25, 2020
Human populations survived the Toba volcanic super-eruption 74,000 years ago
[Image: 1-humanpopulat.jpg]Stone tools found at the Dhaba site corresponding with the Toba volcanic super-eruption levels. Pictured here are diagnostic Middle Palaeolithic core types. Credit: Chris Clarkson
In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History's Department of Archaeology, together with international partners, have presented evidence that Middle Palaeolithic tool users were present in India before and after the Toba super-eruption 74,000 years ago. The findings support arguments that Homo sapiens was present in South Asia prior to major waves of human expansion 60,000 years ago, and that populations endured climatic and environmental changes.

The Toba super-eruption was one of the largest volcanic events over the last 2 million years, about 5,000 times larger than Mount St. Helen's eruption in the 1980s. The eruption occurred 74,000 years ago on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, and was argued to have ushered in a "volcanic winter" lasting six to 10 years, leading to a 1,000 year-long cooling of the Earth's surface. Theories purported that the volcanic eruption would have led to major catastrophes, including the decimation of hominin populations and mammal populations in Asia, and the near extinction of our own species. The few surviving Homo sapiens in Africa were said to have survived by developing sophisticated social, symbolic and economic strategies that enabled them eventually to re-expand and populate Asia 60,000 years ago in a single, rapid wave along the Indian Ocean coastline.
Fieldwork in southern India conducted in 2007 by some of this study's authors challenged these theories, leading to major debates between archaeologists, geneticists and earth scientists about the timing of human dispersals out of Africa and the impact of the Toba super-eruption on climate and environments. The current study continues the debate, providing evidence that Homo sapiens were present in Asia earlier than expected and that the Toba super-eruption wasn't as apocalyptic as believed.
[b]The Toba volcanic super-eruption and human evolution[/b]
The current study reports on a unique 80,000 year-long stratigraphic record from the Dhaba site in northern India's Middle Son Valley. Stone tools uncovered at Dhaba in association with the timing of the Toba event provide strong evidence that Middle Palaeolithic tool-using populations were present in India prior to and after 74,000 years ago. Professor J.N. Pal, principal investigator from the University of Allahabad in India notes that "Although Toba ash was first identified in the Son Valley back in the 1980s, until now we did not have associated archaeological evidence, so the Dhaba site fills in a major chronological gap."

[Image: humanpopulat.jpg]
Standing on the Dhaba site, overlooking the Middle Son Valley, India. Note the archaeological trench location on the left hand side of the photo. Credit: Christina Neudorf
Professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland, lead author of the study, adds, "Populations at Dhaba were using stone tools that were similar to the toolkits being used by Homo sapiens in Africa at the same time. The fact that these toolkits did not disappear at the time of the Toba super-eruption or change dramatically soon after indicates that human populations survived the so-called catastrophe and continued to create tools to modify their environments." This new archaeological evidence supports fossil evidence that humans migrated out of Africa and expanded across Eurasia before 60,000 years ago. It also supports genetic findings that humans interbred with archaic species of hominins, such as Neanderthals, before 60,000 years ago.

[b]Toba, climate change and human resilience[/b]
Though the Toba super-eruption was a colossal event, few climatologists and earth scientists continue to support the original formulation of the "volcanic winter" scenario, suggesting that the Earth's cooling was more muted and that Toba may not have actually caused the subsequent glacial period. Recent archaeological evidence in Asia, including the findings unearthed in this study, does not support the theory that hominin populations went extinct on account of the Toba super-eruption.
Instead, archaeological evidence indicates that humans survived and coped with one of the largest volcanic events in human history, demonstrating that small bands of hunter-gatherers were adaptable in the face of environmental change. Nevertheless, the peoples who lived around Dhaba more than 74,000 years ago do not seem to have significantly contributed to the gene pool of contemporary peoples, suggesting that these hunter-gatherers likely faced a series of challenges to their long-term survival, including the dramatic environmental changes of the following millennia. In summarizing the wider implications of this study, Professor Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute says, "The archaeological record demonstrates that although humans sometimes show a remarkable level of resilience to challenges, it is also clear that people did not necessarily always prosper over the long term."

Explore further
No volcanic winter in East Africa from ancient Toba eruption

[b]More information:[/b] Human occupation of northern India spans the Toba super-eruption ~74,000 years ago, Nature CommunicationsDOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14668-4 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Communications 

Provided by Max Planck Society

Lava flows tell 600-year story of biodiversity loss on tropical island

A natural experiment created by an active volcano gives new insight into the long-term negative impacts of human colonisation of tropical forest islands. The findings are published in the British Ecological Society journal, ...

FEBRUARY 24, 2020
Ancient DNA from Sardinia reveals 6,000 years of genetic history
by Matt Wood, University of Chicago
[Image: ancientdnafr.jpg]The s'Orcu 'e Tueri nuraghi, one of many distinctive Sardinian Bronze Age stone towers dating to the mid- to late 2nd millennium BC, at a site including in the study. Credit: Gruppo Grotte Ogliastra
A new study of the genetic history of Sardinia, a Mediterranean island off the western coast of Italy, tells how genetic ancestry on the island was relatively stable through the end of the Bronze Age, even as mainland Europe saw new ancestries arrive. The study further details how the island's genetic ancestry became more diverse and interconnected with the Mediterranean starting in the Iron Age, as Phoenician, Punic, and eventually Roman peoples began arriving to the island.

The research, published in Nature Communications, analyzed genome-wide DNA data for 70 individuals from more than 20 Sardinian archaeological sites spanning roughly 6,000 years from the Middle Neolithic through the Medieval period. No previous study has used genome-wide DNA extracted from ancient remains to look at the population history of Sardinia.
"Geneticists have been studying the people of Sardinia for a long time, but we haven't known much about their past," said the senior author John Novembre, Ph.D., a leading computational biologist at the Univeristy of Chicago who studies genetic diversity in natural populations. "There have been clues that Sardinia has a particularly interesting genetic history, and understanding this history could also have relevance to larger questions about the peopling of the Mediterranean."
[b]An interdisciplinary team[/b]
The people of Sardinia have long been studied by geneticists to understand human health. The island has one of the highest rates of people who live to 100 years or more, and its people have higher than average rates of autoimmune diseases and disorders such as beta-thalassemia and G6PD deficiency. Many villages in Sardinia also have high levels of relatedness, which makes uncovering the genetics of traits simpler. Across the island, the frequencies of genetic variants often differ from mainland Europe. These factors have made Sardinia a useful place for geneticists like senior author Francesco Cucca from the Università di Sassari in Italy to uncover genetic variants that may be linked to disease and aging.
"Contemporary Sardinians represent a reservoir for some variants that are currently very rare in continental Europe," Cucca said. "These genetic variants are tools we can use to dissect the function of genes and the mechanisms that are at the basis of genetic diseases."
Sardinia also has a unique archaeological, linguistic, and cultural heritage, and has been part of Mediterranean trade networks since the Neolithic age. How much the population's genetic ancestry has changed through these times, however, has been unknown.

To generate a new perspective on the genetic history of Sardinia, long-term collaborators Cucca and Novembre brought together an interdisciplinary group with geneticists, archaeologists, and ancient DNA experts. A team led by Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tübingen in Germany helped coordinate the sampling and carried out DNA sequencing and authentication. Teams led by Novembre and Cucca then analyzed the data and shared the results with the whole group for an interdisciplinary interpretation.
"We were thrilled to be able to generate such a dataset spanning six thousand years because the retrieval of ancient DNA from skeletal remains from Sardinia is very challenging," said Cosimo Posth, an archaeogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute and co-first author of the study.

[Image: 1-ancientdnafr.jpg]
The town of Seulo, Sardinia, around which there are several cave archaeological sites that have been excavated by study co-authors Maria Giuseppina Gradoli, Robin Skeates, and Jessica Becket and from which samples were collected for the study. Credit: John Novembre
[b]Periods of stability and change[/b]
Sampling DNA from ancient remains allows scientists to get a snapshot of people living at a specific time and place, instead of using modern DNA and inferring the past based on assumptions and mathematical models. When the team compared the DNA of 70 ancient individuals collected from Sardinia to the DNA of other ancient and modern individuals, they uncovered two major patterns.
First, they saw that Sardinian individuals in the Middle Neolithic period (4100-3500 BCE) were closely related to people from mainland Europe of the time. Genetic ancestry then remained relatively stable on the island through at least the end of the "Nuragic" period (~900 BCE). This pattern differs from other regions of mainland Europe which experienced new ancestries entering from people moving across the continent in the Bronze Age.
The results also show the development of Sardinia's distinctive nuraghe stone towers and culture (after which the Nuragic period is named) did not coincide with any detectable, new genetic ancestry arriving to the island.
"We found striking stability in ancestry from the Middle Neolithic through the end of the Nuragic period in Sardinia," said Joe Marcus, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Genetics at UChicago and a co-first author on the paper.
Second, the team found evidence of the arrival of different populations across the Mediterranean, first with Phoenicians originating from the Levant (modern-day Lebanon) and Punics, whose culture centered in Carthage (modern-day Tunisia). Then, new ancestry continued to appear during the Roman period and further in the Medieval period, as Sardinia became historically influenced by migration of people from modern-day Italy and Spain.
"We observed clear signals of dynamic periods of contact linking the island to the rest of the Mediterranean, appearing first in individuals from two Phoenician and Punic sites as early as 500 BCE, and then in individuals from the Roman and Medieval periods," said Harald Ringbauer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher involved in the computational data analysis at UChicago and a co-first author on the paper.
The group's results help explain similarities with DNA from mainland European individuals of the Neolithic and Copper Age, such as "Ötzi the Iceman," an almost perfectly preserved, 5,300-year-old human discovered in alpine ice in northern Italy in 1991. Specifically, among modern Europeans, Ötzi's DNA is most similar to modern-day Sardinians. The new study supports the theory that this similarity remains because Sardinia had less turnover of genetic ancestry over time than mainland Europe, which experienced large-scale migrations in the Bronze Age.
[b]Insights from the past, implications for the present[/b]
Besides providing new insight into mysteries of the past, studying ancient DNA also has implications for the well-being of present-day humans. This model of Sardinia's population history—establishment followed by relative isolation and then the arrival of new sources of diversity—provides a new framework for understanding how genetic variants with health implications became more frequent on the island.
"For future studies, we want to look more precisely at mutations that we think are involved in disease to see in which period they changed in frequency and how quickly they changed," Novembre said. "That will help us understand the processes acting on these diseases, and in turn gain a richer view that may yield insights for human health."
The study, "Genetic history from the Middle Neolithic to present on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia," was published February 24, 2020 in Nature Communications. An independent study in Nature Ecology and Evolution also published February 24, 2020 comes to similar conclusions using different samples.

Explore further
Looking at Sardinian DNA for genetic clues to an island's—and Europe's—past

[b]More information:[/b] Joseph H. Marcus et al, Genetic history from the Middle Neolithic to present on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14523-6

Daniel M. Fernandes et al. The spread of steppe and Iranian-related ancestry in the islands of the western Mediterranean, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1102-0
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Communications  Nature Ecology & Evolution 

Provided by [url=]University of Chicago
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...

[Image: howmilletssu.jpg]

How millet sustained Mongolia's empires
Researchers have examined stable isotopes from bone collagen and dental enamel to reconstruct the diets of ancient Mongolians. Findings challenge the popular notion of a completely nomadic prehistoric population, linking ...

[Image: earlyagricul.jpg]

As farming developed, so did cooperation—and violence
The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.


MARCH 4, 2020
Siberian Neanderthals originated from various European populations
[Image: neanderthalm.jpg]View of the entrance of the Chagyrskaya cave above the Charysh river. Credit: K. Kolobova/Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the RAS
At least two different groups of Neanderthals lived in Southern Siberia and an international team of researchers including scientists from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now proven that one of these groups migrated from Eastern Europe. The researchers have now published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Neanderthals were widespread in Europe and also migrated to Southern Siberia, but the origins of these Siberian Neanderthals and when they migrated was not known.
An international team of researchers including archaeologist Thorsten Uthmeier, professor of Prehistory and Protohistory at FAU, have now examined tools found in the Chagyrskaya cave in the Altai mountains in Russia in order to find the answer.
[b]Parallels to sites in Central and Eastern Europe[/b]
The site has been excavated since 2019 as part of a DFG research project in conjunction with the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of the Sciences in Novosibirsk. In addition to stone tools and bones from hunting remains, two main find layers yielded numerous Neanderthal fossils. After discovering that the stone tools did not resemble any of the tools from groups living in the Altai during the same period, the team searched for comparable finds in a larger radius.
Geometric morphological analyses of 3-D models of scanned tools showed that the stone tools found in the Chagyrskaya cave were very similar to artefacts from the Micoquien, which is the name given to the corresponding stone tool industry in Central and Eastern Europe. The comparative scans originate among others from find sites in Bavaria including FAU's own Sesselfelsgrotte cave, in which most of the artefacts used in the comparison were found.
The researchers were able to reconstruct the route of migration of the Siberian Neanderthals using DNA analyses of Neanderthal bones and sediments from the Chagyrskaya cave. The route led the groups during the course of several generations via Croatia and the North Caucasus to the Altai.
[b]Several groups of Neanderthals migrated to Siberia[/b]
The DNA analyses also showed that the Neanderthals from the Chagyrskaya cave differ significantly in terms of their DNA from a second Altai group found in the Denisova cave. This discovery fits with the observation that the Denisova Neanderthals were apparently not familiar with tools from the Micoquien. The research team therefore presumes that several groups of Neanderthals migrated to Siberia.
The interdisciplinary examinations of the Neanderthals found in the Chagyrskaya cave, in which Bavarian find sites investigated by FAU play an important role, clearly show that the wave of migration of groups of this species of human 60,000 years ago originated in Central and Eastern Europe.
At the same time, the researchers from Novosibirsk led by Professor Ksenia Kolobova and from FAU found rare evidence that artefacts are culturally informative indicators of population movements.

Explore further
Siberian Neanderthals were intrepid nomads

[b]More information:[/b] Kseniya A. Kolobova et al, Archaeological evidence for two separate dispersals of Neanderthals into southern Siberia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1918047117
[b]Journal information:[/b] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [/url]

Provided by 
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg 

MARCH 5, 2020
Smallest Homo erectus cranium in Africa and diverse stone tools found at Gona, Ethiopia
by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan
[Image: 5-smallesthomo.jpg]The DAN5 cranium, top/frontview. Credit: Dr. Michael J. Rogers, Southern Connecticut State University
An international research team led by scientists from the U.S. and Spain, and including a University of Michigan geologist, has discovered a nearly complete cranium of an early human ancestor, estimated to about 1.5 million years ago, and a partial cranium dated to about 1.26 million years ago, from the Gona study area in Ethiopia's Afar State.

Both crania, assigned to Homo erectus, were associated with simple Oldowan-type (Mode 1) and more complex Acheulian (Mode 2) stone tool assemblages. This suggests that H. erectus had a degree of cultural/behavioral plasticity that has yet to be fully understood.
The team was led by Sileshi Semaw of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) in Spain and Michael Rogers of Southern Connecticut State University. U-M geologist Naomi Levin coordinated the geological work to determine the age of the fossils and their environmental context.
The team's findings were published March 4 in the journal Sciences Advances.
Gona is located in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, adjacent to the well-known Middle Awash and Hadar study areas, where the famous skeletons "Ardi" and "Lucy" were found, respectively.
The nearly complete cranium was discovered at Dana Aoule North (DAN5), and the partial cranium at Busidima North (BSN12), sites that are 5.7 kilometers apart. The research team has been investigating the Gona deposits since 1999, and the BSN12 partial cranium was discovered by N. Toth of Indiana University during the first season. The DAN5 cranium was found a year later by the late Ibrahim Habib, a local Afar colleague, on a camel trail.

[Image: 1-smallesthomo.jpg]
GoogleEarth Map of the Gona study area, showing locations of BSN12 and DAN5. Credit: Google
The BSN12 partial cranium is robust and large, while the DAN5 cranium is smaller and more gracile, suggesting that H. erectus was probably a sexually dimorphic species. Remarkably, the DAN5 cranium has the smallest endocranial volume documented for H. erectus in Africa, about 590 cubic centimeters, probably representing a female.
The smallest Homo erectus cranium in Africa, and the diverse stone tools found at Gona, show that human ancestors were more varied, both physically and behaviorally, than previously known, according to the researchers.
This physical diversity is mirrored by the stone tool technologies exhibited by the artifacts found in association with both crania. Instead of only finding the expected large handaxes or picks, signature tools of H. erectus, the Gona team found both well-made handaxes and plenty of less-complex Oldowan tools and cores.

The toolmakers at both sites lived in close proximity to ancient rivers, in settings with riverine woodlands adjacent to open habitats. The low δ13C isotope value from the DAN5 cranium is consistent with a diet dominated by C3 plants (trees and shrubs, and/or animals that ate food from trees or shrubs) or, alternatively, broad-spectrum omnivory.
U-M's Levin joined the research team as a master's student in 2001 and ultimately became the lead geologist. She coordinated the effort to date the fossils and to determine their environmental context, working with an interdisciplinary team from several institutions.
The ages of the fossils and the associated artifacts were constrained using a variety of techniques: standard field mapping and stratigraphy, as well as analyses of the magnetic properties of the sediments, the chemistry of volcanic ashes, and the distribution of argon isotopes in volcanic ashes.

[Image: 2-smallesthomo.jpg]
The late Ibrahim Habib, an Afar colleague,showing fragments of the DAN5 cranium. Credit: Dr. Jay Quade, University of Arizona
"Constraining the age of these sites proved particularly challenging, requiring multiple experts using a range of techniques over several years of field work," said Levin, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and in the Program in the Environment.
"This is a great example of scientific detective work and how science gets done, drawing on a community of scholars and their collective knowledge of the geology of eastern Africa," said Levin, who co-directs an isotope geochemistry lab that conducts studies of ancient environments using carbon and oxygen isotopes.
Along with University of Arizona geologist Jay Quade, Levin also coordinated the environmental reconstruction of the Gona sites.
At the Gona study area in Ethiopia's Afar State, H. erectus used locally available stone cobbles to make their tools, which were accessed from nearby riverbeds. Fossil fauna were abundant at the BSN12 site, but cut marks or hammerstone-percussed bones were not identified.
At the DAN5 site, an elephant toe bone was found with stone tool cut marks, and a small antelope leg bone had a percussion notch, implying that H. erectus butchered both large and small mammals, though it is not clear whether they hunted or scavenged their prey.
There is a common view that early Homo (e.g., Homo habilis) invented the first simple (Oldowan) stone tools, but when H. erectus appeared about 1.8 to 1.7 million years ago, a new stone tool technology called the Acheulian, with purposefully shaped large cutting tools such as handaxes, emerged in Africa.

[Image: 3-smallesthomo.jpg]
Credit: University of Michigan
The timing, causes and nature of this significant transition to the Acheulian by about 1.7 million years ago is not entirely clear, though, and is an issue debated by archaeologists.
The authors of the Science Advances paper said their investigations at DAN5 and BSN12 have clearly shown that Oldowan technology persisted much longer after the invention of the Acheulian, indicative of a particular behavioral flexibility and cultural complexity practiced by H. erectus, a trait not fully understood or appreciated in paleoanthropology.
"Although most researchers in the field consider the Acheulian to have replaced the earlier Oldowan (Mode 1) by 1.7 Ma, our research has shown that Mode 1 technology actually remained ubiquitous throughout the entire Paleolithic," Semaw said.
"The simple view that a single hominin species is responsible for a single stone tool technology is not supported," Rogers said. "The human evolutionary story is more complicated."

[Image: smallesthomo.jpg]
The DAN5 cranium. Credit: Dr. Michael J. Rogers, Southern Connecticut State University
The DAN5 and BSN12 sites at Gona are among the earliest examples of H. erectus associated with both Oldowan and Acheulian stone assemblages.
"In the almost 130 years since its initial discovery in Java, H. erectus has been recovered from many sites across Eurasia and Africa. The new remains from the Gona study area exhibit a degree of biological diversity in Africa that had not been seen previously, notably the small size of the DAN5 cranium," said study co-author Scott Simpson of Case Western Reserve University.

[Image: 4-smallesthomo.jpg]
Credit: University of Michigan
"The BSN12 partial cranium also provides evidence linking the African and eastern Asian fossils, demonstrating how successful Homo erectus was."
In Africa, some argue that multiple hominin species may have been responsible for the two distinct contemporary stone technologies, Oldowan and Acheulian. To the contrary, the evidence from Gona suggests a lengthy and concurrent use of both Oldowan and Acheulian technologies by a single long-lived species, H. erectus, the variable expression of which deserves continued research, according to the researchers.
"One challenge in the future will be to understand better the stone tool attributes that are likely to be passed on through cultural tradition versus others that are more likely to be reinvented by different hominin groups," Rogers said.
The Science Advances paper is titled "Co-occurrence of Acheulian and Oldowan artifacts with Homo erectus cranial fossils from Gona, Afar, Ethiopia."

Explore further
Dating of volcanic ash at Sangiran shows Homo erectus arrived later than thought

[b]More information:[/b] Sileshi Semaw et al. Co-occurrence of Acheulian and Oldowan artifacts with Homo erectus cranial fossils from Gona, Afar, Ethiopia, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4694
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances 

Provided by [url=]University of Michigan

The ancient hominid species that includes ‘Nutcracker Man’ may have made tools
Newly described fossils are the first hand, arm and shoulder specimens from the same [i]Paranthropus boisei[/i] individual

[Image: 022720_BB_boisei-arm_feat-1028x579.jpg]

The first hand, arm and shoulder fossils found from the same [i]Paranthropus boisei[/i] individual were excavated in Kenya. These finds indicate that this ancient hominid combined powerful arms with a hand grip capable of at least simple stone-tool making.


Share this: By Bruce Bower
MARCH 3, 2020 AT 7:00 AM

[i]Paranthropus boisei[/i], an African hominid that lived between around 2.3 million and 1.2 million years ago, may have strong-armed its way into stone-tool making with a deft touch.
That’s the implication of the first hand, arm and shoulder fossils discovered from the same [i]P. boisei[/i] individual, say paleobiologist David Green and colleagues. The fossils suggest that this extinct species combined powerful arms suited to tree climbing with grasping hands capable of fashioning stone implements, the researchers report in the April [i]Journal of Human Evolution[/i].
[i]P. boisei[/i], a distant cousin to modern humans, lacked a thick, powerfully gripping thumb characteristic of its hominid contemporary, [i]Homo erectus [/i]([i]SN: 3/24/15[/i]), a prolific maker of sophisticated stone tools. But the newly described hand bones suggest that [i]P. boisei[/i] gripped well-enough to make and use simple stone and bone tools, just as other members of the human evolutionary family may have as early as 3.3 million years ago ([i]SN: 5/20/15[/i]). That’s long before the emergence of the [i]Homo [/i]genus, which appeared around 2.8 million years ago. But reports of tool-making before [i]Homo[/i] originated are controversial.
“This is the first evidence that creatures that were almost certainly not our direct ancestors could have made tools,” says paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “So we can no longer assume — nor should we ever have assumed — that only [i]Homo[/i] could make tools,” says Wood, who was not involved with the new research.

It’s tempting to argue that only [i]H. erectus[/i], which had a brain approaching twice the average size of [i]P. boisei[/i]’s, could have made teardrop-shaped, double-edged hand axes that date to around the same time as the two hominids. Those tools demanded more skill and planning than earlier, simpler cutting implements. But the case is not closed, says Green, of Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Buies Creek, N.C. “We’ll need to find tools that can be confidently associated with [i]P. boisei[/i] and assess its technical abilities before assuming that [i]H. erectus[/i] was the superior toolmaker.”
Excavations and surveys from 2004 to 2010 at Kenya’s Ileret site produced the new [i]P. boisei[/i] finds. Fossils were found in sediment that dates to between about 1.53 million and 1.51 million years old. Previously excavated 1.5-million-year-old footprints at Ileret may have been left by [i]H. erectus[/i] or [i]P. boisei [/i]([i]SN: 4/16/12[/i]).
A large male skull discovered in 1959 is the best-known [i]P. boisei[/i] fossil. Dubbed Nutcracker Man, the individual has wide cheekbones that project forward and a bony crest atop its braincase that once anchored huge chewing muscles. Nutcracker Man may have eaten mainly grasses and flowering plants called sedges ([i]SN: 5/2/11[/i]).
Suggestions that another member of the [i]Paranthropus[/i] genus, [i]P. robustus, [/i]crafted stone tools, based on isolated finger bones unearthed in South Africa’s Swartkrans cave complex, go back more than 30 years ([i]SN: 5/28/88[/i]). Parts of two arm bones and two leg bones from an adult male [i]P. boisei[/i] have turned up since then at Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge ([i]SN 12/10/13[/i]). But the Ileret discoveries offer the first look at bones from throughout a [i]P. boisei[/i] individual’s upper limb. As a result, researchers can more confidently reconstruct what types of arm and hand movements that hominid could perform.
Stone artifacts are abundant at ancient [i]Homo[/i] sites, a sign that our genus relied far more heavily on toolmaking than [i]P. boisei[/i] did, says biological anthropologist Neil Roach of Harvard University, who wasn’t involved in the research. No stone artifacts have been clearly linked to [i]P. boisei[/i] fossils.
Intriguingly, Roach adds, the Ileret fossils are relatively large and thick, suggesting that [i]P. boisei[/i] was more athletic and physically active than typically presumed for a hominid species that, unlike [i]H. erectus[/i], probably did not eat meat.
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
MARCH 19, 2020
Global human genomes reveal rich genetic diversity shaped by complex evolutionary history
[Image: population.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
A new study has provided the most comprehensive analysis of human genetic diversity to date, after the sequencing of 929 human genomes by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and their collaborators. The study uncovers a large amount of previously undescribed genetic variation and provides new insights into our evolutionary past, highlighting the complexity of the process through which our ancestors diversified, migrated and mixed throughout the world.

The resource, published in Science (20 March), is the most detailed representation of the genetic diversity of worldwide populations to date. It is freely available to all researchers to study human genetic diversity, including studies of genetic susceptibility to disease in different parts of the world.
The consensus view of human history tells us that the ancestors of present-day humans diverged from the ancestors of extinct Neanderthal and Denisovan groups around 500,000-700,000 years ago, before the emergence of 'modern' humans in Africa in the last few hundred thousand years.
Around 50,000-70,000 years ago, some humans expanded out of Africa and soon after mixed with archaic Eurasian groups. After that, populations grew rapidly, with extensive migration and mixture as many groups transitioned from hunter-gatherers to food producers over the last 10,000 years.
This study is the first to apply the latest high-quality sequencing technology to such a large and diverse set of humans, covering 929 genomes from 54 geographically, linguistically and culturally diverse populations from across the globe. The sequencing and analysis of these genomes, which are part of the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP)-CEPH panel, now provides unprecedented detail of our genetic history.
The team found millions of previously unknown DNA variations that are exclusive to one continental or major geographical region. Though most of these were rare, they included common variations in certain African and Oceanian populations that had not been identified by previous studies.
Variations such as these may influence the susceptibility of different populations to disease. However, medical genetics studies have so far predominantly been conducted in populations of European ancestry, meaning that any medical implications that these variants might have are not known. Identifying these novel variants represents a first step towards fully expanding the study of genomics to underrepresented populations.
However, no single DNA variation was found to be present in 100 per cent of genomes from any major geographical region while being absent from all other regions. This finding underlines that the majority of common genetic variation is found across the globe.

Dr. Anders Bergström, of the Francis Crick Institute and an alumnus of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: "The detail provided by this study allows us to look deeper into human history, particularly inside Africa where less is currently known about the timescale of human evolution. We find that the ancestors of present-day populations diversified through a gradual and complex process mostly during the last 250,000 years, with large amounts of gene flow between these early lineages. But we also see evidence that small parts of human ancestries trace back to groups that diversified much earlier than this."
Hélène Blanché, Head of the Biological Resource Centre at the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) in Paris, France, said: "The Human Genome Diversity Project resource has facilitated many new discoveries about human history in the past two decades. It is exciting to see that with the latest genomic sequencing technology, these genomes will continue to help us understand our species and how we have evolved."
The study also provides evidence that the Neanderthal ancestry of modern humans can be explained by just one major 'mixing event', most likely involving several Neanderthal individuals coming into contact with modern humans shortly after the latter had expanded out of Africa. In contrast, several different sets of DNA segments inherited from Denisovans were identified in people from Oceania and East Asia, suggesting at least two distinct mixing events.
The discovery of small amounts of Neanderthal DNA in west African people, most likely reflecting later genetic backflow into Africa from Eurasia, further highlights how human genetic history is characterised by multiple layers of complexity. Until recently, it was thought that only people outside sub-Saharan Africa had Neanderthal DNA.
Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith, recently retired from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: "Though this resource is just the beginning of many avenues of research, already we can glimpse several tantalising insights into human history. It will be particularly important for better understanding human evolution in Africa, as well as facilitating medical research for the full diversity of human ancestries."

Explore further
Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

[b]More information:[/b] A. Bergström el al., "Insights into human genetic variation and population history from 929 diverse genomes," Science (2020). … 1126/science.aay5012
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science [/url]

Provided by [url=]Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
RE: Back to the garden(S)...

It is well known that agriculture developed independently in New Guinea 7000 years ago, but evidence of its influence on how people lived has eluded scientists—until now.

MARCH 26, 2020
Dig for artifacts confirms New Guinea's Neolithic period
by Lachlan Gilbert, University of New South Wales
[Image: digforartefa.jpg]Dr Ben Shaw and some New Guinean locals examine a few of the artefacts unearthed at the Waim dig site in the northern highlands. Credit: UNSW/Ben Shaw
It is well known that agriculture developed independently in New Guinea 7000 years ago, but evidence of its influence on how people lived has eluded scientists—until now.

An archaeological dig in Papua New Guinea has for the first time uncovered strong evidence that a Neolithic period—where agriculture brings about major cultural changes—existed on the island about 5000 years ago.
Scientists believe the cache of artifacts that were unearthed, including stone axes, pestles, figurative carvings and other tools, are the missing clues needed to make the case for a Neolithic period in New Guinea's prehistory.
In a paper published today in the prestigious journal Science Advances, a multi-institutional team of archaeologists and scientists document the relics excavated at Waim (pronounced 'Wy-im'), an area located in the northern highlands of modern Papua New Guinea.
[b]Missing pieces[/b]
Lead author Dr. Ben Shaw of UNSW Science says until now, there was little evidence to demonstrate that New Guinea had enjoyed its own Neolithic period like other global agricultural centers had—despite there being well-documented evidence of agriculture on the island in past millennia.
[Image: 1-digforartefa.jpg]
Waim village as seen from the air, in the rugged highlands of northern Papua New Guinea. Credit: UNSW/Ben Shaw
"We already knew about the wetland crops like taro, yam, sugarcane and bananas from about 7000 years ago in New Guinea," Dr. Shaw says.
"But because the archaeology in this part of the world is not as well-known as places like China and the Middle East, we didn't really know how the development of agriculture changed human behaviors in the New Guinean landscape."
The sorts of changes Dr. Shaw alludes to occurred as humans slowly shifted from a hunter-gatherer mode of existence to one that increasingly involved planting and harvesting crops.
"In Neolithic ages you see people transitioning to smaller living areas in the form of villages where they stayed for at least part of the year. And because they were staying in one place longer, people started changing their technology to look after crops. We also see more specialized skilled labor in the form of buildings and in the material objects they made and traded now that the society has a more stable sort of existence."
[b]Treasure trove[/b]
At Waim, the team was astounded by the sheer bulk and variety of tools that turned up in the one place. They found very finely carved pestles used for the grinding of food, stone axes and adzes, as well as carved figurines. One of them, a large fragment of carved stone depicting the brow ridge of a human or animal face dated at 5050 years old is now the earliest evidence of a carved expression of body form in Oceania.
[Image: 2-digforartefa.jpg]
Some of the stone artefacts, including tools and art, that were dug up at the Waim dig site. Credit: UNSW/Ben Shaw
After examining the pestles under the microscope, co-author Dr. Judith Field identified microfossils—or evidence of plant residue—on the pestles demonstrating they had been used to process some of the wetland crops native to New Guinea.
"It was very exciting for us to find these microfossils on the pestles," Dr. Field says. "It is probably one of the most direct links that you can draw to the influence of agriculture upon human behavior at this time."
The dig was also interesting for what the unearthed relics tell us about the antiquity of some of the technology still being used today in New Guinea. Dr. Shaw says a grooved volcanic stone was found with ochre on it, suggesting that 5000 years ago humans were already using it to paint, stain and decorate.
"Ochre is very important because it is often associated with the development of abstract thought, symbolic art forms and ritual behavior, like burial. When we looked at the grooves on this stone under the microscope, it looked as though they were shaped by having organic fibers pulled through them. The ochre on the stone would have stained these fibers a red color, which even today is how they sometimes stain fibers in the production of their woven string bags, or bilums. This has never been found at a site before."
[b]Mystery carved in stone[/b]
Another surprise was the uncovering of a large block of stone that had been ground and polished, which Dr. Shaw reckons was laid against a hillside and subsequently buried after the village at Waim was abandoned about 4000 years ago. He says that at about half a metre long and 30cm wide, it was a very unusual piece and had the team stumped as to what its purpose was.
[Image: 3-digforartefa.jpg]
A puzzling object that turned out to be a stone template with a bevelled edge which people used to break off individual axe heads. Credit: UNSW/Ben Shaw
"It was shaped like a giant parallelogram, had really sharp edges and had been beautifully polished," Dr. Shaw says.
"And when it came out of the ground, we were trying to think of what it possibly could have been used for. Maybe a stone for grinding plants or something of that nature, but it's an odd shape for a grinding stone. While we were sitting there scratching our heads, one of the elders from the village came up and told us that this is how the old people used to make the axes: they would take a big block of stone, work it into shape, and then simply saw it into the individual sizes of the axes that they wanted."
Later, the team verified that this method had been documented in more recent times. But the type of ax that was associated with this stone template was previously thought to have been used by people coming into the area more than 2000 years later, which Dr. Shaw says "really floored us and blew us away".
[b]Across the Torres Strait[/b]
On the question of whether human society in Australia underwent similar transformations, Dr. Shaw says archaeologists have already demonstrated that there were major changes in technology across Australia around 5000 years ago.
"But why this occurred is still debated," he says. "New Guinea is entirely within the tropics, whereas Australia spans tropical and temperate latitudes, so people would have adapted to very different environments with different plants and animals. Technology, behavior and food production strategies would also have differed, and a major challenge now is to see how all this links together."
[Image: 4-digforartefa.jpg]
Some curious onlookers from Waim village. Credit: UNSW/Ben Shaw
Now that the group has demonstrated the missing link between agriculture and the cultural changes associated with it in New Guinea, the next step is to look more closely at the newly exposed treasures themselves.
"On the back of this we'll be doing a lot more research on individual artifacts to contextualize their use in New Guinea society at that time. So now that we've defined the edges of the puzzle in New Guinea, it's time to fill it in."

[b]More information:[/b] Ben Shaw et al. Emergence of a Neolithic in highland New Guinea by 5000 to 4000 years ago, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay4573
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances [/url]
Provided by University of New South Wales

RE: Back to the garden(S)...

MARCH 25, 2020
Weedy rice is unintended legacy of Green Revolution
[Image: weedyriceisu.jpg]Biologist Kenneth M. Olsen tends rice in the Jeanette Goldfarb Plant Growth Facility at Washington University in St. Louis. Credit: Joe Angeles/Washington University
A new global study reveals the extent to which high-yielding rice varieties favored in the decades since the "Green Revolution" have a propensity to go feral, turning a staple food crop into a weedy scourge.

Weedy rice is a de-domesticated form of rice that infests paddies worldwide and aggressively outcompetes cultivated varieties. A new study led by biologists at Washington University in St. Louis shows that weed populations have evolved multiple times from cultivated rice, and a strikingly high proportion of contemporary Asian weed strains can be traced to a few Green Revolution cultivars that were widely grown in the late 20th century.
The scientists believe that a universal process is at work, acting at a genomic and molecular level to allow rapid adaptation to weediness. The new study is published March 26 in the journal Genome Biology.
"One of the hallmarks of the Green Revolution was the use of cross-breeding to create high-yielding cultivars," said Kenneth M. Olsen, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences. "For rice and many other crops, this involved hybridizing traditional varieties to combine their best traits. This type of rice breeding was very different from traditional rice farming, where varieties aren't cross-bred and farmers replant seed from their own harvests."
The Green Revolution was an era of technology transfer that brought high-yield varieties of rice, maize and wheat to the developing world, more than doubling the cereal production in developing countries from 1961 to 1985. Changes in irrigation, fertilizer and seed development brought about remarkable productivity gains.
But there were other less predictable outcomes.
"Once you start hybridizing different varieties, you can wind up with all kinds of new traits, including some that are unexpected and undesirable," Olsen said. "What we learned from our study is that one of those unexpected side effects was a propensity of the elite cultivars to go feral and emerge as agricultural weeds."
Olsen and his collaborators used whole genome sequencing to examine the origin and adaptation of 524 global weedy rice samples representing all major regions of rice cultivation.
Much like a family tree, the new genomic analysis shows relationships among weedy rice strains and demonstrates the extent to which the same genes are involved each time a new weed strain evolves.
This is the first such study to include weedy rice strains from all over the world in a single analysis.
"One of the huge advantages of being able to sequence entire genomes nowadays is that we can achieve very high-level resolution in figuring out who is related to whom," Olsen said. "This same approach is being used now with the novel coronavirus to track the sources of new infections as they show up in new locations."
"For weedy rice, we were able to infer that a lot of the weed strains that are now widespread in Asia are very closely related to rice cultivars that were first developed during the Green Revolution."
Olsen is a national expert in weedy rice. The National Science Foundation recently awarded $2.6 million to Olsen and collaborators to determine what makes weedy rice such a fierce competitor.
"Although the genetic mechanism isn't especially surprising, what did really surprise me was what a high proportion of weedy rice in Asia originated this way," Olsen said. "We estimated that over a third of the weed strains now infesting some regions of China likely evolved from elite cultivars.
"From our previous studies in other regions, we knew that some weedy rice strains have likely been around since the earliest days of agriculture," Olsen said. "What's now clear is that weedy rice has probably been emerging repeatedly throughout the 10,000-year history of rice cultivation—right up to the present day."

Explore further
Rusted root: Weedy rice repeatedly evolves 'cheater' root traits

[b]More information:[/b] Genome Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1186/s13059-020-01980-x
[b]Journal information:[/b] Genome Biology 

Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

RE:... origin(S) of mankind(S).

MARCH 26, 2020
Neanderthals were pioneers in marine resource exploitation: study
[Image: sciencepubli.jpg]Pieces of clam Ruditapes decussatus, found in the site. Credit: Mariana Nabais © João Zilhão
The journal Science has published a study led by the ICREA researcher João Zilhão from the University of Barcelona on the excavation in Cueva de Figueira Brava, Portugal, which was used as shelter by Neanderthal populations about between 86,000 and 106,000 years ago. The study reveals fishing and shellfish gathering contributed significantly to the subsistence economy of the inhabitants of Figueira Brava. The relevance of this discovery lies in the fact that so far, there was little evidence of these practices as being common among Neanderthals.

Regarding the consequences of this study, João Zilhão notes that "an influent model on our origins suggests the common consumption of water resources, rich in Omega3 and other fatty acids that favour the development of brain tissues, would have increased the cognitive skills of modern anatomy humans. That is, those humans who, in Africa, were contemporaries of Neanderthals and are usually regarded as the only ancestors of the current Homo sapiens." But the results of the excavation of Figueira Brava reveal that if this common consumption of marine resources played an important role in the development of cognitive skills, it did so for all humanity, including Neanderthals, and not only the African population that spread later."
Zilhão, a member of the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP-UB), cites "proof that accumulated over the last decade to show Neanderthals had a symbolic material culture." Two years ago, in 2018, the journals Science and Science Advances published two studies co-led by João Zilhão reporting that over 65,000 years ago, Neanderthals made cave paintings in at least three caves in the Iberian Peninsula: La Pasiega, Maltravieso and Ardales (Science).
PIPEnter fullscreen


Drone overview of the Figueira Brava caves and the now unroofed marine terrace in front, the Arrábida range behind, the River Sado estuary to the East and the Holocene-submerged extension of adjacent sea where, at the time of occupation, a paleo-fjord existed. Credit: João de Brito Vidigal
Furthermore, more than 115,000 years ago in Cueva de los Aviones (Murcia, Spain), they used perforated marine shells and ocher remains as pendants and shell containers with residues of complex mixes of pigment (Science Advances). These findings "support a view on human evolution in which the known fossil variants, such as Neanderthals in Europe and African anatomical contemporaries should be understood as remains from our ancestors, not as different higher-lower species," notes Zilhão.

[Image: 1-sciencepubli.jpg]
Cracked-open and burnt fragments of Cancer pagurus pincer? Credit: José Paulo Ruas © João Zilhão
Fifty percent of the diet of the inhabitants in Figueira Brava consisted of coastal resources: molluscs (limpet, mussel and clams); crustaceans (brown crab and spider crab); fish (shark, eel, sea bream, mullet), birds (mallard, common scoter, goose, cormorant, gannet, shag, auk, egret, loon), and mammals (dolphin, seal). They additionally hunted deer, goats, horses, aurochs and other small prey such as tortoises. Among the other carbonised plants were olive trees, vines, fig trees and other Mediterranean climate species, among which the most abundant was the stone pine, burned for heat and cooking. Pine forests were exploited as fruit tree gardens: Mature pines, albeit closed, were taken from the branches and stored in the cave, where the fire could open them.

[Image: neanderthals.jpg]
Marine ressources from Figueira Brava. A. limpets, B. clams, C. crab, D. dolphin vertebrae, E. shark vertebrae. Credit: A-C M. Nabais, D Antunes et al. 2000, E. J. P. Ruas
The study also provides other results suggesting the bias inherent in the concept of Neanderthals as cold and tundra peoples, experts on hunting mammoths, rhinos, buffalo and reindeer. "Most Neanderthals would have lived in southern regions, specially in Italy and in the Iberian Peninsula, and their lifestyle would have been very similar to those in Figueira Brava," notes Zilhão.
  • [Image: 2-neanderthals.jpg]
  • Horizontal exposure of a mussel shell bed. Credit: João Zilhão
    View on the Figueira Brava cave with its three entrances. Credit: João ZilhãoAnother important finding in the study is the familiarity of humans with the sea and its resources as something older and wider than previously thought. "This could probably help explain how, between 45,000 and 50,000 years ago, humans could cross the Timor Sea to colonize Australia and New Guinea, and then, about 30,000 years ago, the closest islands to the western Pacific," says Zilhão.

Explore further
Human evolution was uneven and punctuated, suggests new research

[b]More information:[/b] J. Zilhão at Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA) in Barcelona, Spain el al., "Last Interglacial Iberian Neandertals as fisher-hunter-gatherers," Science (2020). … 1126/science.aaz7943

"Neanderthal surf and turf," … 1126/science.abb3568
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science  Science Advances 

Provided by [url=]University of Barcelona
This Post is not an april fools prank.

in one post...most of humanity's past just got clarified. Arrow

The story is not as neat as it was before. Every single ancient genome that is sequenced seems to create a completely new perspective in our understanding of human evolution, and every new genome that's sequenced in the future may completely change the story again."

APRIL 1, 2020
Modern humans, Neanderthals share a tangled genetic history, study affirms

by Charlotte Hsu, University at Buffalo
[Image: neanderthal.png]Comparison of Modern Human and Neanderthal skulls from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Credit: DrMikeBaxter/Wikipedia
In recent years, scientists have uncovered evidence that modern humans and Neanderthals share a tangled past. In the course of human history, these two species of hominins interbred not just once, but at multiple times, the thinking goes.

A new study supports this notion, finding that people in Eurasia today have genetic material linked to Neanderthals from the Altai mountains in modern-day Siberia. This is noteworthy because past research has shown that Neanderthals connected to a different, distant location—the Vindija Cave in modern-day Croatia—have also contributed DNA to modern-day Eurasian populations.
The results reinforce the concept that Neanderthal DNA has been woven into the modern human genome on multiple occasions as our ancestors met Neanderthals time and again in different parts of the world.
The study was published on March 31 in the journal Genetics.
"It's not a single introgression of genetic material from Neanderthals," says lead researcher Omer Gokcumen, a University at Buffalo biologist. "It's just this spider web of interactions that happen over and over again, where different ancient hominins are interacting with each other, and our paper is adding to this picture. This project will now add to an emerging chorus — we've been looking into this phenomenon for a couple of years, and there are a couple of papers that came out recently that deal with similar concepts."
"The picture in my mind now is we have all these archaic hominin populations in Europe, in Asia, in Siberia, in Africa. For one reason or another, the ancestors of modern humans in Africa start expanding in population, and as they expand their range, they meet with these other hominins and absorb their DNA, if you will," Gokcumen says. "We probably met different Neanderthal populations at different times in our expansion into other parts of the globe."
Gokcumen, associate professor of biological sciences in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, led the study with first author Recep Ozgur Taskent, a recent UB Ph.D. graduate in the department. Co-authors include UB Ph.D. graduate Yen Lung Lin, now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago; and Ioannis Patramanis and Pavlos Pavlidis, Ph.D., of the Foundation for Research and Technology in Greece.
The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.
To complete the project, scientists analyzed the DNA of hundreds of people of Eurasian ancestry. The goal was to hunt for fragments of genetic material that may have been inherited from Neanderthals.
This research found that the Eurasian populations studied could trace some genetic material back to two different Neanderthal lineages: one represented by a Neanderthal whose remains were discovered in the Vindija cave in Croatia, and another represented by a Neanderthal whose remains were discovered in the Altai mountains in Russia.
Scientists also discovered that the modern-day populations they studied also share genetic deletions — areas of DNA that are missing — with both the Vindija and Altai Neanderthal lineages.
The DNA of the Vindija and Altai Neanderthals, along with the modern human populations studied, were previously sequenced by different research teams.
"It seems like the story of human evolution is not so much like at tree with branches that just grow in different directions. It turns out that the branches have all these connections between them," Gokcumen says. "We are figuring out these connections, which is really exciting. The story is not as neat as it was before. Every single ancient genome that is sequenced seems to create a completely new perspective in our understanding of human evolution, and every new genome that's sequenced in the future may completely change the story again."

Explore further
Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

[b]More information:[/b] Ozgur Taskent et al, Analysis of Haplotypic Variation and Deletion Polymorphisms Point to Multiple Archaic Introgression Events, Including from Altai Neanderthal Lineage, Genetics (2020). DOI: 10.1534/genetics.120.303167
[b]Journal information:[/b] Genetics [/url]

Provided by 
University at Buffalo

APRIL 1, 2020
Homo naledi juvenile remains offers clues to how our ancestors grew up

[Image: homonalediju.jpg]Homo naledi juvenile remains offers clues to how our ancestors grew up. Credit: Bolter et al. PLOS ONE 2020 (CC BY)
A partial skeleton of Homo naledi represents a rare case of an immature individual, shedding light on the evolution of growth and development in human ancestry, according to a study published April 1, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Debra Bolter of Modesto Junior College in California and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and colleagues.

Much research has gone into the evolution of ancient hominins—human relatives and ancestors—but little is known about their growth and development. Most hominin fossils represent adult individuals, and remains of developmentally young hominins are rare. This has left a gap in our understanding of how our ancient relatives grew from young into adults, and how modern human growth patterns evolved.
In this study, Bolter and colleagues examined fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave System in South Africa. This site is famous for providing abundant remains of the hominin Homo naledi, including individuals ranging from infants to adult. These fossils date to the late Middle Pleistocene, between 335,000 and 226,000 years ago, possibly overlapping in time with the earliest members of our own species. The team identified a collection of arm and leg bones and a partial jaw as the remains of a single young individual designated DH7.
The bones and teeth of DH7 were not fully developed and display a mixture of maturity patterns seen in modern humans and earlier hominins. DH7 is estimated to be similar in its developmental stage to immature specimens of other fossil hominins between 8-11 years old at death. The authors note, however, that if Homo naledi had a slower growth rate like modern humans, DH7 might have been as old as 15. Further study is needed to assess how Homo naledi grew and where it fits into the evolution of human growth and development.
Bolter adds: The rare juvenile Homo naledi partial skeleton will shed light on whether this extinct species is more human-like in its development, or more primitive. The findings help reconstruct the selective pressures that shaped extended maturity in our own species.

Explore further
What dental remains from Homo naledi can tell us

[b]More information:[/b] Bolter DR, Elliott MC, Hawks J, Berger LR (2020) Immature remains and the first partial skeleton of a juvenile Homo naledi, a late Middle Pleistocene hominin from South Africa. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0230440.
[b]Journal information:[/b] PLoS ONE 

Provided by Public Library of Science

APRIL 1, 2020
Oldest-ever human genetic evidence clarifies dispute over our ancestors

[Image: oldesteverhu.jpg]Skeletal remains of Homo antecessor. Credit: Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro
Genetic information from an 800,000-year-old human fossil has been retrieved for the first time. The results from the University of Copenhagen shed light on one of the branching points in the human family tree, reaching much further back in time than previously possible.

An important advancement in human evolution studies has been achieved after scientists retrieved the oldest human genetic data set from an 800,000-year-old tooth belonging to the hominin species Homo antecessor.
The findings by scientists from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), in collaboration with colleagues from the CENIEH (National Research Center on Human Evolution) in Burgos, Spain, and other institutions, are published April 1st in Nature.
"Ancient protein analysis provides evidence for a close relationship between Homo antecessor, us (Homo sapiens), Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Our results support the idea that Homo antecessor was a sister group to the group containing Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans," says Frido Welker, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, and first author on the paper.
[b]Reconstructing the human family tree[/b]
By using a technique called mass spectrometry, researchers sequenced ancient proteins from dental enamel, and confidently determined the position of Homo antecessor in the human family tree.

[Image: 1-oldesteverhu.jpg]
A tooth of Homo antecessor was studied using ancient protein analysis. Credit: Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro
The new molecular method, palaeoproteomics, developed by researchers at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, enables scientists to retrieve molecular evidence to accurately reconstruct human evolution from further back in time than ever before.
The human and the chimpanzee lineages split from each other about 9-7 million years ago. Scientists have relentlessly aimed to better understand the evolutionary relations between our species and the others, all now extinct, in the human lineage.
"Much of what we know so far is based either on the results of ancient DNA analysis, or on observations of the shape and the physical structure of fossils. Because of the chemical degradation of DNA over time, the oldest human DNA retrieved so far is dated at no more than approximately 400.000 years," says Enrico Cappellini, Associate Professor at the Globe Institute, University of Copenhagen, and leading author on the paper.

"Now, the analysis of ancient proteins with mass spectrometry, an approach commonly known as palaeoproteomics, allow us to overcome these limits," he adds.

[Image: 5e846b86ad0db.jpg]
Digital reconstruction of specimen ATD6-69 from the Homo antecessor collection. Computerized microtomography (micro-CT) techniques were used to perform this reconstruction. Credit: Prof. Laura Martín-Francés.
[b]Theories on human evolution[/b]
The fossils analyzed by the researchers were found by palaeoanthropologist José María Bermúdez de Castro and his team in 1994 in stratigraphic level TD6 from the Gran Dolina cave site, one of the archaeological and paleontological sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain.
Initial observations led researchers to conclude that Homo antecessor was the last common ancestor to modern humans and Neanderthals, a conclusion based on the physical shape and appearance of the fossils. In the following years, the exact relation between Homo antecessor and other human groups, like ourselves and Neanderthals, has been discussed intensely among anthropologists.
Although the hypothesis that Homo antecessor could be the common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans is very difficult to fit into the evolutionary scenario of the genus Homo, new findings in TD6 and subsequent studies revealed several characteristics shared among the human species found in Atapuerca and the Neanderthals. In addition, new studies confirmed that the facial features of Homo antecessor are very similar to those of Homo sapiens and very different from those of the Neanderthals and their more recent ancestors.
"I am happy that the protein study provides evidence that the Homo antecessor species may be closely related to the last common ancestor of Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. The features shared by Homo antecessor with these hominins clearly appeared much earlier than previously thought. Homo antecessor would therefore be a basal species of the emerging humanity formed by Neanderthals, Denisovans, and modern humans," adds José María Bermúdez de Castro, scientific co-director of the excavations in Atapuerca and co-corresponding author on the paper.

[Image: 5e846bcbb24db.jpg]
Gran Dolina preserves a long-term record of Pleistocene hominin populations. Credit: Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro.
Findings like these are made possible through an extensive collaboration between different research fields: from paleoanthropology to biochemistry, proteomics and population genomics.
Retrieval of ancient genetic material from the rarest fossil specimens requires top quality expertise and equipment. This is the reason behind the now 10-years-long strategic collaboration between Enrico Cappellini and Jesper Velgaard Olsen, Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen and co-author on the paper.
"This study is an exciting milestone in palaeoproteomics. Using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, we determined the sequence of amino acids within protein remains from Homo antecessor dental enamel. We could then compare the ancient protein sequences to those of other hominins, for example, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, to determine how they are genetically related," says Jesper Velgaard Olsen.
"I really look forward to seeing what palaeoproteomics will reveal in the future," concludes Enrico Cappellini.

Explore further
Teeth of Homo antecessor shed light on trends in Pleistocene hominin dental evolution

[b]More information:[/b] The dental proteome of Homo antecessor, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2153-8 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature 

Provided by University of Copenhagen

APRIL 1, 2020
Skull scans reveal evolutionary secrets of fossil brains

by William Kimbel, Arizona State University
[Image: skullscansre.jpg]Brain imprints in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for "Lucy" and the "Dikika child" from Ethiopia pictured here) shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. The exceptionally preserved endocranial imprint of the Dikika child reveals an ape-like brain organization, and no features derived towards humans. Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig.
Scientists have long been able to measure and analyze the fossil skulls of our ancient ancestors to estimate brain volume and growth. The question of how these ancient brains compare to modern human brains and the brains of our closest primate cousin, the chimpanzee, continues to be a major target of investigation.

A new study published in Science Advances used CT-scanning technology to view three-million-year old brain imprints inside fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for "Lucy" and "Selam" from Ethiopia's Afar region) to shed new light on the evolution of brain organization and growth. The research reveals that while Lucy's species had an ape-like brain structure, the brain took longer to reach adult size, suggesting that infants may have had a longer dependence on caregivers, a human-like trait.
The CT-scanning enabled the researchers to get at two long-standing questions that could not be answered by visual observation and measurement alone: Is there evidence for human-like brain reorganization in Australopithecus afarensis, and was the pattern of brain growth in this species more similar to that of chimpanzees or that of humans?
To study brain growth and organization in A. afarensis, the researchers, including ASU paleoanthropologist William Kimbel, scanned eight fossil crania from the Ethiopian sites of Dikika and Hadar using high-resolution conventional and synchrotron-computed tomography. Kimbel, leader of the field work at Hadar, is director of the Institute of Human Origins and Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
PIPEnter fullscreen


3-million-year old brain imprints in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for “Lucy” and the “Dikika child” from Ethiopia shown here) shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. Credit: Paul Tafforeau, ESRF Grenoble
Lucy's species inhabited eastern Africa more than three million years ago—"Lucy" herself is estimated to be 3.2 million years old—and occupies a key position in the hominin family tree, as it is widely accepted to be ancestral to all later hominins, including the lineage leading to modern humans.
"Lucy and her kin provide important evidence about early hominin behavior—they walked upright, had brains that were around 20 percent larger than those of chimpanzees, and may have used sharp stone tools," explains coauthor Zeresenay Alemseged (University of Chicago), who directs the Dikika field project in Ethiopia and is an International Research Affiliate with the Institute of Human Origins.
Brains do not fossilize, but as the brain grows and expands before and after birth, the tissues surrounding its outer layer leave an imprint on the inside of the bony braincase. The brains of modern humans are not only much larger than those of our closest living ape relatives but are also organized differently and take longer to grow and mature. Compared with chimpanzees, modern human infants learn longer and are entirely dependent on parental care for longer periods of time. Together, these characteristics are important for human cognition and social behavior, but their evolutionary origins remain unclear.

[Image: 1-lucyhadanape.jpg]
Brains do not fossilize, but as the brain grows, the tissues surrounding its outer layer leave an imprint in the bony braincase. The Dikika child's endocranial imprint reveals an ape-like brain organization, and no features derived towards humans. Credit: Philipp Gunz, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
The CT scans resulted in high-resolution digital "endocasts" of the interior of the skulls, where the anatomical structure of the brains could be visualized and analyzed. Based on these endocasts, the researchers could measure brain volume and infer key aspects of cerebral organization from impressions of the brain's structure.

A key difference between apes and humans involves the organization of the brain's parietal lobe—important in the integration and processing of sensory information—and occipital lobe in the visual center at the rear of the brain. The exceptionally preserved endocast of "Selam," a skull and associated skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis infant found at Dikika in 2000, has an unambiguous impression of the lunate sulcus—a fissure in the occipital lobe marking the boundary of the visual area that is more prominent and located more forward in apes than in humans—in an ape-like position. The scan of the endocranial imprint of an adult A. afarensis fossil from Hadar (A.L. 162-28) reveals a previously undetected impression of the lunate sulcus, which is also in an ape-like position.
Some scientists had conjectured that human-like brain reorganization in australopiths was linked to behaviors that were more complex than those of their great ape relatives (e.g., stone-tool manufacture, mentalizing, and vocal communication). Unfortunately, the lunate sulcus typically does not reproduce well on endocasts, so there was unresolved controversy about its position in Australopithecus.

[Image: lucyhadanape.jpg]
Brain imprints (shown in white) in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. Several years of painstaking fossil reconstruction, and counting of dental growth lines, yielded an exceptionally preserved brain imprint of the Dikika child, and a precise age at death. Credit: Philipp Gunz, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
"A highlight of our work is how cutting-edge technology can clear up long-standing debates about these three million-year-old fossils," notes coauthor Kimbel. "Our ability to 'peer' into the hidden details of bone and tooth structure with CT scans has truly revolutionized the science of our origins."
A comparison of infant and adult endocranial volumes also indicates more human-like protracted brain growth in Australopithecus afarensis, likely critical for the evolution of a long period of childhood learning in hominins.
In infants, CT scans of the dentition make it possible to determine an individual's age at death by counting dental growth lines. Similar to the growth rings of a tree, virtual sections of a tooth reveal incremental growth lines reflecting the body's internal rhythm. Studying the fossilized teeth of the Dikika infant, the team's dental experts calculated an age at death of 2.4 years.
PIPEnter fullscreen


Brain imprints in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for “Lucy”, and the “Dikika child” from Ethiopia shown here) shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. Several years of painstaking fossil reconstruction, and counting of dental growth lines, yielded an exceptionally preserved brain imprint of the Dikika child, and a precise age at death. These data suggest that Australopithecus afarensis had an ape-like brain and prolonged brain growth. Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig
The pace of dental development of the Dikika infant was broadly comparable to that of chimpanzees and therefore faster than in modern humans. But given that the brains of Australopithecus afarensis adults were roughly 20 percent larger than those of chimpanzees, the Dikika child's small endocranial volume suggests a prolonged period of brain development relative to chimpanzees.
"The combination of apelike brain structure and humanlike protracted brain growth in Lucy's species was unexpected," says Kimbel. "That finding supports the idea that human brain evolution was very much a piecemeal affair, with extended brain growth appearing before the origin of our own genus, Homo."
PIPEnter fullscreen


Brain imprints in fossil skulls of the species Australopithecus afarensis (famous for “Lucy”, and the “Dikika child” from Ethiopia pictured here) shed new light on the evolution of brain growth and organization. Several years of painstaking fossil reconstruction, and counting of dental growth lines, yielded an exceptionally preserved brain imprint of the Dikika child, and a precise age at death. These data suggest that Australopithecus afarensis had an ape-like brain and prolonged brain growth. Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig
Among primates, different rates of growth and maturation are associated with different infant-care strategies, suggesting that the extended period of brain growth in Australopithecus afarensis may have been linked to a long dependence on caregivers. Alternatively, slow brain growth could also primarily represent a way to spread the energetic requirements of dependent offspring over many years in environments where food is not always abundant. In either case, protracted brain growth in Australopithecus afarensis provided the basis for subsequent evolution of the brain and social behavior in hominins and was likely critical for the evolution of a long period of childhood learning.

Explore further
Peering into Little Foot's 3.67 million-year-old brain

[b]More information:[/b] "Australopithecus afarensis endocasts suggest ape-like brain organization and prolonged brain growth," Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz4729 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science Advances 

Provided by [url=]Arizona State University

Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
RE: Back to the garden(S)

How Stone Age humans unlocked the glucose in plants

27 March 2020[img=614x0][/img]
Ground stones were a 'major evolutionary success' as they allowed people to unlock the energy in plants by making flour. Image credit - José-Manuel Benito Álvarez/Wikimedia commons, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.5

[b]Early cave paintings of hunting scenes may give the impression our Stone Age ancestors lived mainly on chunks of meat, but plants – and the ability to unlock the glucose inside – were just as key to their survival. [/b]

Plants rich in starch helped early humans to thrive even at the height of the last Ice Age, researchers say.
While the evidence around meat eating is clear, the role of plant foods is less understood. Animal bones can last millions of years and still show cuts made by human butchering tools, whereas almost all plant remains disintegrate.
But new studies into the remains of plants that do exist are uncovering why and how our ancestors ate them.
‘Plants were the staples. They were the foods that formed the basis of our calories in most environments,’ said Dr Amanda Henry, a paleobiologist and associate professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
Tubers and cereals are full of starch – making them good sources of glucose, which is important for brain growth as well as energy, says Dr Henry. She leads a project called HARVEST which is studying the diets of early human species and the role of plants as food. Tubers are organs where plants store nutrients – modern examples include potatoes and yams.
Some of the earliest evidence she found of eating tubers and cereals dates back 40,000 years, to the Paleolithic era. Neanderthal remains discovered in caves in Iraq and Belgium show that our cousins likely ate water lily tubers, and grains from relatives of wheat and barley grasses.

[Image: 1280px-algerien_desert.jpg]Cave paintings often depict hunting activities but plants were the staple food for Stone Age people, say researchers. Image credit - Gruban/wikimedia commons, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

But unlocking the energy in them required innovation. The grains may have been eaten green when they are easier to digest, but many tubers are toxic raw, says Dr Henry.
‘They are likely to have cooked them,’ said Dr Henry. This not only releases energy but also makes tubers safe to eat.
‘(We’ve found) evidence of heating food in the presence of water which suggests they were boiling them,’ said Dr Henry. ‘Changes in the starch granules – which suggests this type of cooking – were found on the dental calculus (tartar).’
The Neanderthal remains indicate they ate a wide variety of plant foods. This throws doubt on a theory that they died out because they had a narrower diet than our direct ancestors, Dr Henry says.
Other researchers have found earlier evidence of cooked tubers from South Africa in a fireplace dating back more than 100,000 years.
During the last glacial period when ice caps expanded to cover much of northern Europe, there was an explosion of a new technology driven by the need for processing new sources of plant food: the ground stone.
It was a major evolutionary success, dating back about 30,000 years, says Dr Emanuela Cristiani, associate professor in prehistoric archaeology at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Hunter-gatherers primarily used knapped tools, made from big pieces of stone, says Dr Cristiani. ‘At a certain point another technology appears like a boom which is the ground stone technology … (It was) not used to cut or scrape or pierce, but to grind material,’ she said.
‘It means people were … looking for new ways to eat during this dramatic climatic period,’ she said.

‘A lot of Paleo diets talk about health, but by this they mean weight loss. And I can’t think of a single human ancestor who wanted to lose weight.’

Quote:Amanda Henry, Leiden University, the Netherlands

Through a project called HIDDEN FOODS, Dr Cristiani is studying diets of humans in southeastern Europe from the late Paleolithic era – when they were hunter-gathers – to the Neolithic era, when there is the first evidence of farming in the region about 8,500 years ago. She is also exploring the evolution of plant food processing technologies.
Grinding meant people could make flour, which is another way of unlocking the energy in plants. The team found evidence in ground stones and plant remains in dental calculus that hunter-gatherers in the central Balkans ate a lot of wild oats, legumes and acorn flour, says Dr Cristiani.
The earliest evidence of flour dates back 30,000 years and was found in Russia, the Czech Republic and Italy.
It is likely that hunter-gatherers at the team's Italian research site ate cattail plants, which are abundant in a nearby river.
‘We think they used mostly roots. The plant’s root is very rich in starch and once it’s dried, you can make it into flour,’ said Dr Cristiani. The flour makes a sweet-tasting bread, she adds.

[Image: forest-food-produce.jpg][i]Researchers have found evidence that hunter-gatherers in the central Balkans ate wild oats, legumes and acorn flour. Image credit - Pxhere, licensed under CC0

The average Paleolithic person who survived infancy seems to have lived to age 50 or 60. ‘It wasn’t a life of luxury, it was probably a lot of work and generally cold, requiring quite a bit of effort,’ said Dr Henry.
These early humans are likely to have died primarily from a combination of infections, parasites and physical trauma, she says.
Once people started settling and rearing animals and crops, disease levels rose – mainly because they jumped from animals to humans – and life expectancy appears to have fallen. ‘That being said, agriculture is associated with increase in population size. You’re not living as long, but you’re having more kids,’ said Dr Henry.
Today, some people seeking a healthy alternative to modern industrialised diets look to the eating styles of our hunter-gatherer ancestors for inspiration.
The so-called Paleo diet eschews cereals, recommends few carbs and promotes meat and vegetables. But archaeologists say it does not represent the full diet of hunter-gatherers who ate cereals and relied on carbohydrates.
HIDDEN FOODS researchers found remains of legumes, oats and acorns in 10,000-year-old teeth from the last hunter-gatherer groups who built villages along the Danube river. ‘This shows our idea of a Paleo diet as primarily based on protein intake is completely wrong,’ said Dr Cristiani.
‘It’s important to understand for real what the (ancient) Paleolithic diet was. It was a very balanced way of eating,’ she said.
Hunter-gatherers were looking for calories, so carbohydrates in tubers and cereals would have been important.
‘A lot of Paleo diets talk about health, but by this they mean weight loss. And I can’t think of a single human ancestor who wanted to lose weight,’ said Dr Henry.
Diversity was integral to people’s diets, as was their ability to move to new regions. ‘Plant foods vary a lot between environments. So, every time a human went to a new place, they had to learn what was edible, what was going to kill them and what was medicine,’ she said. ‘There is no one size fits all diet. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.’

RE:... origin(S) of mankind(S)

Arrow'... potentially upending human evolution knowledge with their discovery.'

APRIL 2, 2020
Fossil skull casts doubt over modern human ancestry
[Image: fossilskullc.jpg]The Broken Hill (Kabwe 1) skull is one of the best-preserved fossils of Homo heidelbergensis. Credit: Natural History Museum London.
Griffith University scientists have led an international team to date the skull of an early human found in Africa, potentially upending human evolution knowledge with their discovery.

The Broken Hill (Kabwe 1) skull is one of the best-preserved fossils of the early human species Homo heidelbergensis and was estimated to be about 500,000 years old.
Professor Rainer Grün from the Environmental Futures Research Institute led the team which analysed the skull and other fossil human remains found in the vicinity including a tibia and femur midshaft fragment. The material is curated at the Natural History Museum in London, where collaborators Professor Chris Stringer and Senior Curator Michael Rumsey work.
Discovered in 1921 by miners in Zambia, the Broken Hill remains have been difficult to date due to their haphazard recovery and the site being completely destroyed by quarrying.
Using radiometric dating methods, Professor Grün's analyses now puts the skull at a relatively young date, estimating it is between 274,000 and 324,000 years old.
Publishing their findings and methodology in Nature, Professor Grün said "the new best age estimate of the fossil impacts our understanding of the tempo and mode of modern human origins."

[Image: 1-fossilskullc.jpg]
Credit: Griffith University
The research also suggests that human evolution in Africa around 300,000 years ago was a much more complex process, with the co-existence of different human lineages.
Professor Stringer said: "Previously, the Broken Hill skull was viewed as part of a gradual and widespread evolutionary sequence in Africa from archaic humans to modern humans. But now it looks like the primitive species Homo naledi survived in southern Africa, H. heidelbergensis was in Central Africa, and early forms of our species existed in regions like Morocco and Ethiopia."
Professor Grün said his team's research adds to new and emerging studies which question the mode of modern human evolution in Africa and whether Homo heidelbergensis is a direct ancestor of our species.

Explore further
Homo naledi juvenile remains offers clues to how our ancestors grew up

[b]More information:[/b] Rainer Grün et al. Dating the skull from Broken Hill, Zambia, and its position in human evolution, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2165-4
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature [/url]

Provided by 
Griffith University


APRIL 2, 2020
Direct human ancestor Homo erectus is older than we thought
by University of Johannesburg
[Image: ourdirecthum.jpg]A Homo erectus skullcap found northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa has been identified as the oldest to date, in research published in Science. The hominin is a direct ancestor of modern humans, experienced a changing climate, and moved out of Africa into other continents. The discovery of DNH 134 pushes the possible origin of Homo erectus back between 150,000 and 200,000 years. Credit: Therese van Wyk, University of Johannesburg.
An unusual skullcap and thousands of clues have created a southern twist to the story of human ancestors, in research published in Science on 3 April.

The rolling hills northwest of Johannesburg are famous for fossils of human-like creatures called hominins. Because of this, the area is known as the Cradle of Humankind.
"During our field school excavations at Drimolen, a student began uncovering a cluster of fragments. We could see that they were parts of a skull. But they weren't immediately identifiable," says Ms Stephanie Baker.
Baker is a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the Palaeo-Research Institute at the University of Johannesburg. She manages research at the Drimolen fossil site in the Cradle of Humankind where the fragments of DNH 134 were found.
The international team was led by researchers from La Trobe University in Australia and Washington University in St. Louis in the United States.
[b]Fossil forensics[/b]
Fossils that are millions of years old often come out of the soil in fragments. The fragments need to be rebuilt before researchers can confidently identify what kind of animal they came from.
"Over the course of the field season, more and more fragments were uncovered. We began piecing them together. No one could decide what this skullcap was from, until one night it all came together—and we realized we were looking at a hominin," she says. They named the skullcap DNH 134.
PIPEnter fullscreen


One of our direct human ancestors is older than we thought. The Cradle of Humankind northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa has yielded its first Homo erectus fossil, and the oldest found anywhere. Homo erectus experienced a changing climate, and moved out of Africa into other continents. The discovery of skullcap DNH 134 pushes the possible origin of Homo erectus back between 150,000 and 200,000 years. Credit: Therese van Wyk, University of Johannesburg
The next question was—what kind of hominin? The Cradle of Humankind has several different species of human ancestors and the Drimolen site had at least two kinds.
"This find really challenged us. We compared the assembled skullcap to all of the other examples of hominins in the Cradle area. Eventually, its teardrop shape and relatively big brain cavity meant we were looking at Homo erectus," says Baker.
Homo erectus is one of our direct human ancestors and is best known for migrating out of Africa into the rest of the world.
These hominins walked upright and were a more human-like species than the other hominins found in the Cradle. They had shorter arms and longer legs. They could walk and run for longer distances over the African grasslands than the others.
[b]How old?[/b]
Once the question of 'which species?" was answered, two other huge questions presented themselves. How long ago was this individual alive? And how old were they when they died?

The researchers knew that no other Homo erectus fossils had ever been found in South Africa before. Even more surprising was the time period suggested by the soil layers the skull fragments were found in."Before we found DNH 134, we knew that the oldest Homo erectus in the world was from Dmanisi in Georgia dating to 1.8 million years ago," says Baker.
PIPEnter fullscreen


A Homo erectus skullcap found northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa has been identified as the oldest to date, in research published in Science. The hominin is a direct ancestor of modern humans, experienced a changing climate, and moved out of Africa into other continents. The discovery of DNH 134 pushes the possible origin of Homo erectus back between 150,000 and 200,000 years. Credit: Therese van Wyk, University of Johannesburg.
[b]Building a 3-D puzzle over time[/b]
Trying to figure out how old fossils are from the caves west of Johannesburg is quite tricky. There were no volcanoes during the time of the hominins, so there are no ash layers to give the researchers quick age estimates, like they use for eastern African sites.
But while they were uncovering the fragments at Drimolen, they kept and recorded every clue they could find. This included fragments of small animals like bats and lizards, but also things like soil samples.
They can also tell exactly where in 3-D-space in the Drimolen quarry each little fossil fragment was found.
Then the research team used every possible dating technique available to get the most accurate possible date for the deposit. This included Palaeomagnetic dating, Electron spin resonance, Uranium lead dating, and faunal dating.
[b]Possible shifted, earlier origin[/b]
"We collated all of the dates from each of these techniques and together they showed that we had a very precise age. We now know that the Drimolen Main Quarry and all of the fossils in it, are dated from 2.04 to 1.95 million years ago," says Baker.

[Image: 5e85d169bc1d7.jpg]
DNH 134 cranium with styalised projection of the outline of the rest of the skull. Credit: Andy Herries, Jesse Martin and Renaud Joannes-Boyau
That means that DNH 134 is much older than the next oldest Homo erectus in Africa; and from Georgia.
"The age of the DNH 134 fossil shows that Homo erectus existed 150,000 to 200,000 years earlier than previously thought," says Professor Andy Herries. Herries is the project co-director with Ms Baker and lead researcher. He is Head of the Department of Archaeology and History, at La Trobe University in Australia and an associate in the Palaeo-Research Institute at UJ.
Because Homo erectus is one of our direct ancestors, the discovery has implications for the origins of modern humans.
"Until this find, we always assumed Homo erectus originated from eastern Africa. But DNH 134 shows that Homo erectus, one of our direct ancestors, possibly comes from southern Africa instead. That would mean that they later moved northwards into East Africa. From there they went through North Africa to populate the rest of the world," says Baker.
The skull is also unusual because it is the skull of a young Homo erectus.
"The Homo erectus skull we found, was likely aged between two and three years old when it died," says Herries.

[Image: 5e85d17552174.jpg]
The Drimolen excavations and excavated fossils. Credit: Andy Herries
[b]Sharing a landscape[/b]
The age of the DNH 134 skullcap shows something else—that three species of early human ancestor lived in southern Africa at the same time at the Drimolen fossil site.
"We can now say Homo erectus shared the landscape with two other types of humans in South Africa, Paranthropus and Australopithecus," says Herries.
This might mean they needed to use different parts of the landscape to avoid competing with one another. For a start, they looked different.
Paranthropus robustus hominins were shorter than Homo erectus and Australopithecus, says Baker.
"Paranthropus robustus ate things like roots and tubers, which is why their teeth are really big. They used their enormous teeth for grinding down what we call fall-back foods—tough hard plants."
[b]Changing weather[/b]
In comparison to the other two species, Homo erectus hominins were tall and slender. They ate things which are easier to digest, like fruits and berries.

[Image: 5e85d1831b838.jpg]
The drimolen fossil site. Credit: Andy Herries
"We also know that they were eating meat, but we aren't exactly sure how they were getting it yet. We can say that at least these early Homo erectus weren't hunting with any weaponry yet," says Baker.
"We also know that they were able to cover long distances. Which turned out lucky for them, because during their time, the climate changed in southern Africa.
Paranthropus and Australopithecus evolved in warm and humid climates and were used to that. But then the weather began to shift from warm and humid, to cool and dry," she says.
Gradually the tree-cover diminished, and grasses took their place. Eventually the forests were replaced with the African savannah grasslands of today. The cooler weather suited the more mobile and social Homo erectus better. But it meant that Paranthropus had to rely on less desirable foods.

Explore further
Dating of volcanic ash at Sangiran shows Homo erectus arrived later than thought

[b]More information:[/b] A.I.R. Herries el al., "Contemporaneity of Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and early Homo erectus in S. Africa," Science (2020). … 1126/science.aaw7293

"All Who Wander Are Not Lost," Science (2020). … 1126/science.abb4590
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science 

Provided by University of Johannesburg

RE: Back to the garden(S)... 

APRIL 8, 2020
Amazonian crops domesticated 10,000 years ago
by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Pennsylvania State University
[Image: amazoniancro.jpg]Forest island in the Bolivian Llanos de Moxos, one of the sites where archaeologicalexcavations revealed the existence of Early and Middle Holocene human occupations including burials. Credit: José Capriles, Penn State
As agriculture emerged in early civilizations, crops were domesticated in four locations around the world—rice in China; grains and pulses in the Middle East; maize, beans and squash in Mesoamerica; and potatoes and quinoa in the Andes. Now, an international team of researchers have confirmed a fifth domestication area in southwestern Amazonia where manioc, squash and other edibles became garden plants during the early Holocene, starting over 10,000 years ago.

"Our results confirm the Llanos de Moxos as a hotspot for early plant cultivation, and demonstrate that ever since their arrival, humans have caused a profound alteration of Amazonian landscapes, with lasting repercussions for habitat heterogeneity and species conservation," the researchers report today in Nature.
The Llanos de Moxos is a savannah of approximately 48,700 square miles located in the Beni Department of Bolivia in southwestern Amazonia. The landscape is dotted by earthworks, including raised fields, mounds, canals and forest islands. The researchers looked at the forest islands located within the vast savannah for signs of early gardening.
"We basically mapped large sections of forest islands using remote sensing," said José Capriles, assistant professor of anthropology, Penn State. "We hypothesized that the regularly shaped forest islands had anthropic origin.
However, as Umberto Lombardo, University of Bern, who leads the paper, noted, "Most circular forest islands are in fact artificial and irregular ones are not. There is not a clear pattern."

[Image: 1-amazoniancro.jpg]
José Capriles, assistant professor of anthropology, Penn State, during excavations in the San Pablo forest islands Credit: José Capriles, Penn State
In fact, there are more than 4,700 artificial forest islands in the Llanos de Moxos savannah according to the researchers who "ground truthed" approximately 30 of these islands and showed that many might have served as human planting areas.
"Archaeological evidence for plant domestication is very poorly available, especially in Amazonia where the climate destroys most organic materials," said Capriles. "There is no stone in this area because it is an alluvial plain (water deposited) and it is hard to find evidence of early hunter-gatherers."
The researchers—including Capriles; Lombardo, Heinz Veit from the University of Bern; Jose Iriarte and Lautaro Hilbert from the University of Exeter; and Javier Ruiz-Pérez from Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain—analyzed phytoliths, tiny mineral particles that form inside plants, from radio-carbon-dated samples taken from forest island archaeological excavations and sedimentary cores. The shape of the silica-based phytoliths depends on the plants in which they form, allowing archaeologists to identify the plants that were grown in the forest islands. The team found evidence of manioc—cassava, yuca—10,350 years ago, and squash 10,250 years ago. Early maize appears 6,850 years ago.

Manioc, squash, maize and other carbohydrate-rich foods such as sweet potato and peanuts probably made up the bulk of the diet in Llanos de Moxos, supplemented by fish and large herbivores.

[Image: 2-amazoniancro.jpg]
Umberto Lombardo, University of Bern, sampling sediment cores in the Llanos de Moxos. Credit: José Capriles, Penn State
"Archaeologists, geographers and biologists have argued for many years that Southwestern Amazonia was a probable center of early plant domestication because many important cultivars like manioc, squash, peanuts and some varieties of chili pepper and beans are genetically very close to wild plants living here," said Lombardo, who was lead author on the paper. "However, until this recent study, scientist had neither searched for, nor excavated, old archaeological sites in this region that might document the pre-Columbian domestication of these globally important crops."
The researchers suggest that their data indicate that the earliest inhabitants of Southwestern Amazonia were not just hunter-gatherers, but engaged in plant cultivation in the early Holocene. The earliest people in the area may have arrived to the region already possessing a mixed economy.

Explore further
Human settlements in Amazonia much older than previously thought

[b]More information:[/b] Early Holocene crop cultivation and landscape modification in Amazonia, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2162-7 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature [/url]

Provided by 
Pennsylvania State University

origin(S) of mankind(S).

Study Compares The Parietal Lobes In Neanderthals And Modern Humans
 [url=]4/08/2020 10:02:00 PM 
Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

The Paleoneurobiology Group of the Centro Nacional de Investigacion sobre la Evolucion Humana (CENIEH), led by Emiliano Bruner, has just published a morphological analysis of the brains of Neanderthals and modern humans in the Journal of Human Evolution, whose results suggest that the more rounded shape of modern human brains is due in part to larger and bulgier parietal lobes, on average.

[Image: parietal-lobes.jpg]
Neanderthal and Homo sapiens brains [Credit: Pereira Pedro et al. 2020]

Two regions in particular may be more highly developed in homo sapiens. The first is the dorsal posterior parietal region, and the second is the intermediate area of the intraparietal sulcus, in the inferior parietal lobule, says Sofia Pereira, who coordinated this study in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig (Germany).

The study was conducted using three-dimensional spatial models, which have enabled comparison of brain shape in 52 modern humans with that in eight Neanderthals, employing endocranial casts and the impressions left by the cerebral sulci on the surface of the braincase. The geometric model not only includes information on the general shape of the brain, but also the specific locations of the parietal anatomy.

The parietal lobes are implicated in visuospatial functions such as visual imagination and handling, and in general in all those cognitive aspects relating to coordination between brain, body and external environment, including the eye-hand relationship and that between hand and tools.

Source: CENIEH [April 07, 2020]

Climate Change Encouraged Colonization Of South Pacific Islands Earlier Than First Thought
 4/08/2020 08:54:00 PM 
Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

Research led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found settlers arrived in East Polynesia around 200 years earlier than previously thought.

[Image: pacific-islands-01.jpg]
Lake Te Roto on Atiu where evidence was found of the arrival of early humans
[Credit: University of Southampton]

Colonisation of the vast eastern Pacific with its few and far-flung island archipelagos was a remarkable achievement in human history. Yet the timing, character, and drivers of this accomplishment remain poorly understood.

However, this new study has found a major change in the climate of the region, which resulted in a dry period, coinciding with the arrival of people on the tiny island of Atiu, in the southern group of the Cook Islands, around 900AD.

"The ancestors of the Polynesians, the Lapita people, migrated east into the Pacific Ocean as far as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, reaching them around 2800 years ago. But for almost 1500 years humans failed to migrate any further into the pacific," explains lead researcher, Professor David Sear of the University of Southampton. "Our research gives us a much more accurate timescale of when people first arrived in the region and helps answer some key questions about why they made their hazardous journey east."

A team of geographers, archaeologists and geochemists from the UK, New Zealand and the US, worked with the people of Atiu, to collect core samples of lake mud, charting over 6000 years of history. Back in the labs in UK and US, the mud samples were subjected to a range of analyses including new techniques for reconstructing precipitation, and detecting the presence of mammalian faeces.

[Image: pacific-islands-02.jpg]
Two halves of core sample taken from Lake Te Roto on Atiu
[Credit: University of Southampton]

Apart from fruit bats, the Southern Cook Islands never had mammal populations before humans settled there, so when the researchers found evidence of mammal faeces alongside other evidence for landscape disturbance and burning, it was a clear sign of the arrival of people. Within 100 years the first settlers, most likely from Tonga or Samoa, changed the landscape by burning native forest to make way for crops.

The team, including undergraduate and postgraduate students from the universities of Southampton and Washington, as well as scientists from Newcastle, Liverpool and Auckland universities, also examined lake sediments from Samoa and Vanuata. Using this data, they found evidence for a major climate change which coincided with the newly established arrival time of the settlers.

The data revealed a major change in the climate of the South Pacific region with the main rainbands that bring water to the archipelagos of Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji migrating north. The result was the driest period in the last 2000 years.

This led the researchers to conclude that, alongside growing populations, water stress drove decisions to make dangerous voyages, aided by changes in winds that enabled easterly sailing. Soon after the arrival of people to Atiu, the climate changed again. Rain returned to the eastern Pacific - supporting a rapid (c. 200 years) settlement of the remaining islands of Polynesia.

Professor Sear adds: "Today, changing climate is again putting pressures on Pacific island communities, only this time the option to migrate is not so simple. Within two centuries of first arrival those first settlers changed the landscape and the ecology, but were able to make a home. Pacific islanders now live with modified ecologies, permanent national boundaries and islands already occupied by people. The ability to migrate in response to changing climate is no longer the option it once was."

Findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: University of Southampton [April 06, 2020]

Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
APRIL 8, 2020
Revolutionary new method for dating pottery sheds new light on prehistoric past
by Richard Evershed, University of Bristol
[Image: pottery.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
A team at the University of Bristol has developed a new method of dating pottery which is allowing archaeologists to date prehistoric finds from across the world with remarkable accuracy.

The exciting new method, reported in detail today in the journal Nature, is now being used to date pottery from a range of key sites up to 8,000 years old in Britain, Europe and Africa.
[b]Pottery and the dating game[/b]
Archaeological pottery has been used to date archaeological sites for more than a century, and from the Roman period onwards can offer quite precise dating. But further back in time, for example at the prehistoric sites of the earliest Neolithic farmers, accurate dating becomes more difficult because the kinds of pottery are often less distinctive and there are no coins or historical records to give context.
This is where radiocarbon dating, also known as 14C-dating, comes to the rescue. Until now, archaeologists had to radiocarbon date bones or other organic materials buried with the pots to understand their age.
But the best and most accurate way to date pots would be to date them directly, which the University of Bristol team has now introduced by dating the fatty acids left behind from food preparation.
Professor Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol's School of Chemistry led the team. He said: "Being able to directly date archaeological pots is one of the "Holy Grails" of archaeology. This new method is based on an idea I had going back more than 20 years and it is now allowing the community to better understand key archaeological sites across the world.
"We made several earlier attempts to get the method right, but it wasn't until we established our own radiocarbon facility in Bristol that we cracked it. There's a particular beauty in the way these new technologies came together to make this important work possible and now archaeological questions that are currently very difficult to resolve could be answered."
[b]How the method works[/b]
The trick was isolating individual fat compounds from food residues, perhaps left by cooking meat or milk, protected within the pores of prehistoric cooking pots. The team brought together the latest high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry technologies to design a new way of isolating the fatty acids and checking they were pure enough for accurate dating.

The team then had to show that the new approach gave dates as accurate as those given by materials commonly dated in archaeology, such as bones, seeds and wood. To do this the team looked at fat extracts from ancient pottery at a range of key sites in Britain, Europe and Africa with already precise dating which were up to 8,000 years old.
From the famous Sweet Track site in Somerset and several sites in the Alsace region of France, to the World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey and the famous rock shelter site of Takarkori in Saharan Africa, the new method was proven to date sites incredibly accurately, even to within a human life span.
Professor Alex Bayliss, Head of Scientific Dating at Historic England, who undertook the statistical analyses, added: "It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this advance to the archaeological community. Pottery typology is the most widely used dating technique in the discipline, and so the opportunity to place different kinds of pottery in calendar time much more securely will be of great practical significance."
[b]Using the pottery calendar to better understand London's pre-history[/b]
In London, England, the new dating method has been used on a remarkable collection of pottery found in Shoreditch, thought to be the most significant group of Early Neolithic pottery ever found in the capital. The extraordinary trove, comprising 436 fragments from at least 24 separate vessels weighing nearly 6.5 kilos in total, was discovered by archaeologists from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology).
The site appeared to date from the time when the first farmers came to Britain but accurately dating it was difficult until the Bristol team, using their new dating method on traces of milk fats extracted from the pots, showed the pottery was 5,500 years old. The team were able to date the pottery collection to a window of just 138 years, to around 3600BC.
The results indicate that around 5600 years ago the area around what is now Shoreditch High Street was used by established farmers who ate cow, sheep or goat dairy products as a central part of their diet. These people were likely to have been linked to the migrant groups who were the first to introduce farming to Britain from Continental Europe around 4000 BC—just 400 years earlier.
Jon Cotton, a consultant prehistorian working for MOLA, said: "This remarkable collection helps to fill a critical gap in London's prehistory. Archaeological evidence for the period after farming arrived in Britain rarely survives in the capital, let alone still in-situ. This is the strongest evidence yet that people in the area later occupied by the city and its immediate hinterland were living a less mobile, farming-based lifestyle during the Early Neolithic period."
The results from this site are a prime example of where pottery survives in circumstances that other organic materials do not, so using this revolutionary new method will unlock important information about our prehistoric past.

Explore further
New insights into what Neolithic people ate in southeastern Europe

[b]More information:[/b] Accurate compound-specific 14C dating of archaeological pottery vessels, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2178-z ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature [/url]

Provided by [url=]University of Bristol

APRIL 13, 2020
Molecular and isotopic evidence of milk, meat and plants in prehistoric food systems
[Image: molecularamp.jpg]Examples of potsherds analysed. Credit: Kate Grillo
A team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, with colleagues from the University of Florida, provide the first evidence for diet and subsistence practices of ancient East African pastoralists.

The development of pastoralism is known to have transformed human diets and societies in grasslands worldwide. Cattle-herding has been (and still is) the dominant way of life across the vast East African grasslands for thousands of years.
This is indicated by numerous large and highly fragmentary animal bone assemblages found at archaeological sites across the region, which demonstrate the importance of cattle, sheep and goat to these ancient people.
Today, people in these areas, such as the Maasai and Samburu of Kenya, live off milk and milk products (and sometimes blood) from their animals, gaining 60—90 percent of their calories from milk.
Milk is crucial to these herders and milk shortages during droughts or dry seasons increase vulnerabilities to malnutrition, and result in increased consumption of meat and marrow nutrients.
Yet we do not have any direct evidence for how long people in East Africa have been milking their cattle, how herders prepared their food or what else their diet may have consisted of.
Significantly though, we do know they have developed the C-14010 lactase persistence allele, which must have resulted from consumption of whole milk or lactose-containing milk products. This suggests there must be a long history of reliance on milk products in the area.
To address this question, the researchers examined ancient potsherds from four sites in Kenya and Tanzania, covering a 4000-year timeframe (c 5000 to 1200 BP), known as the Pastoral Neolithic, using a combined chemical and isotopic approach to identify and quantify the food residues found within the vessels. This involves extracting and identifying the fatty acids, residues of animal fats absorbed into the pot wall during cooking.
The findings, published today in the journal PNAS, showed that by far the majority of the sherds yielded evidence for ruminant (cattle, sheep or goat) meat, bones, marrow and fat processing, and some cooking of plants, probably in the form of stews.
This is entirely consistent with the animal bone assemblages from the sites sampled. Across this entire time frame, potsherds preserving milk residues were present at low frequencies, but this is very similar to modern pastoralist groups, such as the heavily milk-reliant Samburu, who cook meat and bones in ceramic pots but milk their cattle into gourds and wooden bowls, which rarely preserve at archaeological sites.
In the broader sense, this work provides insights into the long-term development of pastoralist foodways in east Africa and the evolution of milk-centred husbandry systems. The time frame of the findings of at least minor levels of milk processing provides a relatively long period (around 4,000 years) in which selection for the C-14010 lactase persistence allele may have occurred within multiple groups in eastern Africa, which supports genetic estimates. Future work will expand to studies of other sites within the region.
Dr. Julie Dunne, from the University of Bristol's School of Chemistry, who led the study, said: "How exciting it is to be able to use chemical techniques to extract thousands of year-old foodstuffs from pots to find out what these early East African herders were cooking.
"This work shows the reliance of modern-day herders, managing vast herds of cattle, on meat and milk-based products, has a very long history in the region."

Explore further
Researchers find earliest evidence of milk consumption

[b]More information:[/b] Katherine M. Grillo el al., "Molecular and isotopic evidence for milk, meat, and plants in prehistoric eastern African herder food systems," PNAS (2020).
[b]Journal information:[/b] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

APRIL 9, 2020
Tie game: Ancient bit of string shows Neanderthal handiwork
by Malcolm Ritter
[Image: neanderthalc.jpg]Photograph of the cord fragment taken by digital microscopy (the fragment is approximately 6.2 mm long and 0.5 mm wide). Credit: © C2RMF
It looked like a white splotch on the underside of a Neanderthal stone tool. But a microscope showed it was a bunch of fibers twisted around each other.

Further examination revealed it was the first direct evidence that Neanderthals could make string, and the oldest known direct evidence for string-making overall, researchers say.
The find implies our evolutionary cousins had some understanding of numbers and the trees that furnished the raw material, they say. It's the latest discovery to show Neanderthals were smarter than modern-day people often assume.
Bruce Hardy, of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and colleagues report the discovery in a paper released Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports. The string hints at the possibility of other abilities, like making bags, mats, nets and fabric, they said.
It came from an archaeological site in the Rhone River valley of southeastern France, and it's about 40,000 to 50,000 years old. Researchers don't know how Neanderthals used the string or even whether it had been originally attached to the stone cutting tool.
Maybe the tool happened to fall on top of the string, preserving the quarter-inch (6.2 mm) segment while the rest perished over time, Hardy said. The string is about one-fiftieth of an inch (0.55 mm) wide.
  • [Image: 5e8f1e98ae3e3.jpg]

  • Modern cordage made from grass.  Twisted fibres can form the basis of rope, nets, fabric, and clothing. Credit: B. Hardy

  • [Image: 5e8f1e7149eb2.jpg]

  • Excavation of Abri du Maras.  Credit: M-H. Moncel

  • [Image: 5e8f1e7f406c0.jpg]

  • SEM photo of Neanderthal cord from Abri du Maras. Credit: M-H. Moncel

  • [Image: 5e8f1e8a7cd84.jpg]

  • Close-up of modern flax cordage showing tisted fibre construction. Credit: S. Deryck

  • [Image: 5e8f1e98ae3e3.jpg]

  • Modern cordage made from grass.  Twisted fibres can form the basis of rope, nets, fabric, and clothing. Credit: B. Hardy

     string-making by Neanderthals. The new work now shows that directly, she said.


Explore further
New hope for spinal cord injuries

[b]More information:[/b] Direct evidence of Neanderthal fibre technology and its cognitive and behavioral implications, Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-61839-w ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Scientific Reports
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
MAY 11, 2020
New research determines our species created earliest modern artifacts in Europe
by James Devitt, New York University
[Image: newresearchd.jpg]Stone artifacts from the Initial Upper Paleolithic at Bacho Kiro Cave. 1-3, 5-7: Pointed blades and fragments from Layer I; 4: Sandstone bead with morphology similar to bone beads; 8: The longest complete blade. Credit: Tsenka Tsanova, MPI-EVA Leipzig, License: CC-BY-SA 2.0
Blade-like tools and animal tooth pendants previously discovered in Europe, and once thought to possibly be the work of Neanderthals, are in fact the creation of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, who emigrated from Africa, finds a new analysis by an international team of researchers.

Its conclusions, reported in the journal Nature, add new clarity to the arrival of Homo sapiens into Europe and to their interactions with the continent's indigenous and declining Neanderthal population.
The analysis centers on an earlier discovery of bones and other artifacts found in the Bacho Kiro cave in what is modern-day Bulgaria.
"Our findings link the expansion of what were then advanced technologies, such as blade tools and pendants made from teeth and bone, with the spread of Homo sapiens more than 45,000 years ago," explains Shara Bailey, a professor in NYU's Department of Anthropology and one of the paper's co-authors. "This confirms that Homo sapiens were mostly responsible for these 'modern' creations and that similarities between these and other sites in which Neanderthals made similar things are due to interaction between the populations."
The findings offer a new understanding of both the nature of these species and their interactions.
"If Neanderthals had created these 'modern' tools and jewelry, it would have indicated they had more advanced cognitive abilities than previously recognized," explains Bailey. "Nonetheless, there are some similarities in manufacturing techniques used by Homo sapiens at Bacho Kiro and Neanderthals elsewhere, which makes clear that there was cultural transmission going on between the two groups."
The analysis was led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
The team, which included scientists from Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom, focused on the transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic period, between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago. During this time, the European continent experienced the replacement and partial absorption of local Neanderthals by Homo sapiens populations from Africa. However, this process, anthropologists say, likely varied across regions, and the details of this transition remain largely unknown.
To better comprehend a piece of this transition, the team focused on one of several places—Bacho Kiro—where discoveries of the earliest modern technologies, such as pendants and blades, have been made.

[Image: theoldestupp.jpg]
Excavations in Initial Upper Paleolithic Layer I at Bacho Kiro Cave (Bulgaria). Four Homo sapiens bones were recovered from this layer along with a rich stone tool assemblage, animal bones, bone tools, and pendants. Credit: Tsenka Tsanova, License: CC-BY-SA 2.0
To ascertain which species occupied the area of these discoveries, the scientists deployed several methodologies. Bailey, an expert in tooth analysis, and her colleagues examined teeth and bones that had been found in Bacho Kiro.

Using state-of-the-art technology called ZooMS (collagen peptide mass fingerprinting), they identified human bone fragments and concluded that they were at least 45,000 years old—a period coinciding with the arrival of multiple waves of Homo sapiens into Europe. Subsequent shape analyses of the tooth and DNA examination of the fragments determined that they belonged to Homo sapiens and not Neanderthals, whose presence was not evident among the discovered fossils.
"ZooMS allows us to identify previously unidentifiable bone fragments as some form of human," explains Bailey. "From there, we can apply more sophisticated techniques to identify the species and more accurately date human bones."

Explore further
Video: The muddle in the middle-Pleistocene

[b]More information:[/b] Initial Upper Palaeolithic Homo sapiens from Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2259-z ,

A 14C chronology for the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition at Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria, Nature Ecology & Evolution, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1136-3 ,
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature [/url]

Provided by 
New York University

MAY 20, 2020
Supercomputer model simulations reveal cause of Neanderthal extinction
[Image: 5ec51b0015068.jpg]Figure 1: Computer simulations of population density of Neanderthals (left) and Homo sapiens (right) 43,000 years ago (upper) and 38,000 years ago (lower). Orange (green) circles indicate archeological sites of Neanderthals (Homo sapiens) during 5,000-year-long intervals centered around 43 and 38 thousand years before present. Credit: Institute for Basic Science
Climate scientists from the IBS Center for Climate Physics discover that, contrary to previously held beliefs, Neanderthal extinction was neither caused by abrupt glacial climate shifts, nor by interbreeding with Homo sapiens. According to new supercomputer model simulations, only competition between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens can explain the rapid demise of Neanderthals around 43 to 38 thousand years ago.

Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for at least 300,000 years. Then, around 43 to 38 thousand years ago they quickly disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving only weak genetic traces in present-day Homo sapiens populations. It is well established that their extinction coincided with a period of rapidly fluctuating climatic conditions, as well as with the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe. However, determining which of these factors was the dominant cause, has remained one of the biggest challenges of evolutionary anthropology.
To quantify which processes played a major role in the collapse of Neanderthal populations one needs to use mathematical models that can realistically simulate the migration of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, their interactions, competition and interbreeding in a changing climatic environment. Such models did not exist previously.
In a new paper published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, Axel Timmermann, director of the IBS Center for Climate Physics at Pusan National University, presents the first realistic computer model simulation of the extinction of Neanderthals across Eurasia (Figure 1). The model which is comprised of several thousands of lines of computer code and is run on the IBS supercomputer Aleph, solves a series of mathematical equations that describe how Neanderthals and Homo sapiens moved in a time-varying glacial landscape and under shifting temperature, rainfall and vegetation patterns. In the model both hominin groups compete for the same food resources and a small fraction is allowed to interbreed. The key parameters of the model are obtained from realistic climate computer model simulations, genetic and demographic data.
"This is the first time we can quantify the drivers of Neanderthal extinction," said Timmermann. "In the computer model I can turn on and off different processes, such as abrupt climate change, interbreeding or competition" he said. By comparing the results with existing paleo-anthropological, genetic and archeological data (Figure 1), Timmermann demonstrated that a realistic extinction in the computer model is only possible if Homo sapiens had significant advantages over Neanderthals in terms of exploiting existing food resources. Even though the model does not specify the details, possible reasons for the superiority of Homo sapiens could have been associated with better hunting techniques, stronger resistance to pathogens or higher level of fecundity.
What exactly caused the rapid Neanderthal demise has remained elusive for a long time. This new computer modeling approach identifies competitive exclusion as the likely reason for the disappearance of our cousins.
"Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for the last 300,000 years and experienced and adapted to abrupt climate shifts, that were even more dramatic than those that occurred during the time of Neanderthal disappearance. It is not a coincidence that Neanderthals vanished just at the time, when Homo sapiens started to spread into Europe," says Timmermann. He adds "The new computer model simulations show clearly that this event was the first major extinction caused by our own species."
A research team at the IBS Center for Climate Physics is now improving the computer model to also include megafauna and implement more realistic climate forcings. "This is a new field of research in which climate scientists can interact with mathematicians, geneticists, archeologists and anthropologists," said Axel Timmermann.

Explore further
Cold, dry climate shifts linked to Neanderthal disappearance

[b]More information:[/b] Axel Timmermann. Quantifying the potential causes of Neanderthal extinction: Abrupt climate change versus competition and interbreeding, Quaternary Science Reviews (2020). DOI: 10.1016/J.QUASCIREV.2020.106331
[b]Journal information:[/b] Quaternary Science Reviews 

Provided by Institute for Basic Science

MAY 20, 2020
Oldest connection with Native Americans identified near Lake Baikal in Siberia
[Image: oldestconnec.jpg]Excavation in 1976 of the Ust'-Kyakhta-3 site located on right bank of the Selenga River in the vicinity of Ust-Kyakhta village in the Kyakhtinski Region of the Republic of Buryatia (Russia). Credit: A. P. Okladnikov
Using human population genetics, ancient pathogen genomics and isotope analysis, a team of researchers assessed the population history of the Lake Baikal region, finding the deepest connection to date between the peoples of Siberia and the Americas. The current study, published in the journal Cell, also demonstrates human mobility, and hence connectivity, across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.

Modern humans have lived near Lake Baikal since the Upper Paleolithic, and have left behind a rich archaeological record. Ancient genomes from the region have revealed multiple genetic turnovers and admixture events, indicating that the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age was facilitated by human mobility and complex cultural interactions. The nature and timing of these interactions, however, remains largely unknown.
A new study published in the journal Cell reports the findings of 19 newly sequenced ancient human genomes from the region of Lake Baikal, including one of the oldest reported from that region. Led by the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the study illuminates the population history of the region, revealing deep connections with the First Peoples of the Americas, dating as far back as the Upper Paleolithic period, as well as connectivity across Eurasia during the Early Bronze Age.
[b]The deepest link between peoples[/b]
"This study reveals the deepest link between Upper Paleolithic Siberians and First Americans," says He Yu, first author of the study. "We believe this could shed light on future studies about Native American population history."

[Image: 1-oldestconnec.jpg]
Recent view on the Selenga River close to the archeological site Ust-Kyakhta-3. Credit: G. Pavlenok
Past studies have indicated a connection between Siberian and American populations, but a 14,000-year-old individual analysed in this study is the oldest to carry the mixed ancestry present in Native Americans. Using an extremely fragmented tooth excavated in 1962 at the Ust-Kyahta-3 site, researchers generated a shotgun-sequenced genome enabled by cutting edge techniques in molecular biology.
This individual from southern Siberia, along with a younger Mesolithic one from northeastern Sibe-ria, shares the same genetic mixture of Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) and Northeast Asian (NEA) ancestry found in Native Americans, and suggests that the ancestry which later gave rise to Native Americans in North- and South America was much more widely distributed than previously assumed. Evidence suggests that this population experienced frequent genetic contacts with NEA populations, resulting in varying admixture proportions across time and space.

"The Upper Paleolithic genome will provide a legacy to study human genetic history in the future," says Cosimo Posth, a senior author of the paper. Further genetic evidence from Upper Paleolithic Siberian groups is necessary to determine when and where the ancestral gene pool of Native Ameri-cans came together.

[Image: 2-oldestconnec.jpg]
The fragmented tooth of individual UKY001 excavated from an archeological layer at the Ust-Kyakhta-3 site dated to the Upper Paleolithic, around 14,000 years old. Credit: G. Pavlenok(Published in Pavlenok, G.D., and Zubova, A. V. (2019). New Dental Finds Associated with the Paleolithic Selenga Culture, Western Trans-Baikal Region. Archaeol. Ethnol. Anthropol. Eurasia 47.)
[b]A web of prehistoric connections[/b]
In addition to this transcontinental connection, the study presents connectivity within Eurasia as evidenced in both human and pathogen genomes as well as stable isotope analysis. Combining these lines of evidence, the researchers were able to produce a detailed description of the population histo-ry in the Lake Baikal region.
The presence of Eastern European steppe-related ancestry is evidence of contact between southern Siberian and western Eurasian steppe populations in the preamble to the Early Bronze Age, an era characterized by increasing social and technological complexity. The surprising presence of Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing pathogen, points to further wide-ranging contacts.
Although spreading of Y. pestis was postulated to be facilitated by migrations from the steppe, the two individuals here identified with the pathogen were genetically northeastern Asian-like. Isotope analysis of one of the infected individuals revealed a non-local signal, suggesting origins outside the region of discovery. In addition, the strains of Y. pestis the pair carried is most closely related to a contemporaneous strain identified in an individual from the Baltic region of northeastern Europe, further supporting the high mobility of those Bronze age pathogens and likely also people.
"This easternmost appearance of ancient Y. pestis strains is likely suggestive of long-range mobility during the Bronze Age," says Maria Spyrou, one of the study's coauthors. "In the future, with the generation of additional data we hope to delineate the spreading patterns of plague in more detail." concludes Johannes Krause, senior author of the study.

Explore further
Neolithic genomes from modern-day Switzerland indicate parallel ancient societies

[b]More information:[/b] Cell (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.037
[b]Journal information:[/b] Cell 

Provided by Max Planck Society

MAY 14, 2020
Ancient DNA unveils important missing piece of human history
[Image: ancientdnaun.jpg]Sampling a tooth in the IVPP cleanroom Credit: IVPP
Newly released genomes from Neolithic East Asia have unveiled a missing piece of human prehistory, according to a study conducted by Prof. Fu Qiaomei's team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The study, published in Science on May 14, reveals that population movement played a profound role in the early genetic history of East Asians.
The researchers used advanced ancient DNA capture techniques to retrieve ancient DNA from 25 individuals dating back 9,500-4,200 years and one individual dating back 300 years from northern and southern East Asia.
The newly sequenced DNA casts a spotlight on an important period in East Asia's early history: the transition from hunter-gathering to agricultural economies.
One hypothesis for population movement in East Asia is that during the Neolithic, a "second layer" of agriculturalists replaced a "first layer" of hunter-gatherers in East and Southeast Asia.
While the genetics of ancient humans in Southeast Asia, Siberia, and the Japanese archipelago have been well-studied, little has been known until now about the genetics of ancient humans in northern and southern China.
Prof. Fu and her team found that these Neolithic humans share the closest genetic relationship to present-day East Asians who belong to this "second layer." This suggests that by 9,500 years ago, the primary ancestries composing the genetic makeup of East Asians today could already be found in mainland East Asia.

[Image: 2-ancientdnaun.jpg]
Skull of Qihe 2, a ~8,400-year-old individual from Qihe Cave, Fujian, China Credit: FAN Xuechun
While more divergent ancestries can be found in Southeast Asia and the Japanese archipelago, in the Chinese mainland, Neolithic populations already displayed genetic features belonging to present-day East Asians.
Notably, this includes the Early Neolithic southern East Asians dating to ~8,000 years from this study that should have been "first layer" early Asians, according to the earlier hypothesis. In fact, Prof. Fu and her team showed that they shared a closer relationship to present-day "second layer" East Asians. Thus, the results of the current study fail to support a "two layer" dispersal model in Neolithic East Asia in this area.
The scientists also found that Early Neolithic East Asians were more genetically differentiated from each other than present-day East Asians are. In early Neolithic East Asia since 9,500 BP, a northern ancestry existed along the Yellow River and up into the eastern steppes of Siberia, distinct from a southern ancestry that existed along the coast of the southern Chinese mainland and islands in the Taiwan Strait since 8,400 BP.

Population movement may have already started impacting East Asians by the Late Neolithic. For example, the Late Neolithic southern East Asians may have shared a connection to coastal northern East Asians and the former's ancestry may have extended north as well.
Today, most East Asian populations are not clearly separated into two distinct groups. Present-day mainland East Asians from both the north and south share a closer genetic relationship to northern Neolithic East Asians along the Yellow River than to southern Neolithic East Asians on the southern coast of China.
Further analyses show that they are almost all a mixture of northern and southern ancestry from Neolithic East Asia, with northern ancestry playing a larger role. Population movement, particularly from the north along the Yellow River southward was a prominent part of East Asian prehistory after the Neolithic.

[Image: 1-ancientdnaun.jpg]
Piece of petrous bone from a ~9,500-year-old individual from Bianbian Cave, Shandong, China. This individual was part of a northern ancestry group found along the Yellow River and up into the eastern steppes of Siberia Credit: GAO Wei
Interestingly, present-day Han Chinese in all provinces, north and south, show a similar amount of northern and southern influences.
Southern ancestry, while less represented in mainland East Asia today, had extensive influence on other regions. Present-day Austronesian speakers, who share a close genetic relationship to present-day mainland East Asians but live across a wide swath of islands in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, show a remarkably close genetic relationship to Neolithic populations from the southern coast of China.
Archaeological materials dating back to the Middle Neolithic have long hinted at the connection between Austronesian islanders and populations in mainland East Asia. Now, the genetic relationships uncovered by Prof. Fu and her team show unambiguous evidence that Austronesian speakers today originated from a proto-Austronesian population that derived from southern China at least 8,400 year ago.
The history revealed by these 26 ancient humans highlights the profound impact that population movement and mixture had on human history, but they also reveal continuity that extends back 9,500 years. Unlike in Europe, influences from Central Asia had no role in the formation of East Asian ancestry, with mixing largely occurring regionally between northern and southern populations in East Asia.
The whole slate of ancestries present across East Asia during the Neolithic is still unknown, as genome-wide data have not been retrieved from many inland regions of mainland East Asia.
But coastal connections between ancient populations in Siberia, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia suggest that as more ancient DNA is retrieved and studied, a complex history of population contact and admixture in East Asian human prehistory will be revealed.

Explore further
Genome-wide data from a 40,000-year-old man in China reveals complicated genetic history of Asia

[b]More information:[/b] Ancient DNA Reveals Genetic History of China, Science (2020). … 1126/science.aba0909
[b]Journal information:[/b] Science 

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

Back to The Garden (non-biblical TRUE EDEN) Arrow 

MAY 15, 2020
Early humans thrived in this drowned South African landscape
[Image: earlyhumanst.jpg]An artist's depiction of what life might have been like for early humans living on South Africa's Paleo-Agulhas Plain. Credit: Maggie Newman/African Centre for Coastal Paleosciences
Early humans lived in South African river valleys with deep, fertile soils filled with grasslands, floodplains, woodlands, and wetlands that abounded with hippos, zebras, antelopes, and many other animals, some extinct for millennia.

In contrast to ice age environments elsewhere on Earth, it was a lush environment with a mild climate that disappeared under rising sea levels around 11,500 years ago.
An interdisciplinary, international team of scientists has now brought this pleasant cradle of humankind back to life in a special collection of articles that reconstruct the paleoecology of the Paleo-Agulhas Plain, a now-drowned landscape on the southern tip of Africa that was high and dry during glacial phases of the last 2 million years.
"These Pleistocene glacial periods would have presented a very different resource landscape for early modern human hunter-gatherers than the landscape found in modern Cape coastal lowlands, and may have been instrumental in shaping the evolution of early modern humans," said Janet Franklin, a distinguished professor of biogeography in the department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside, an associate member of the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, and co-author of several of the papers.
Some of the oldest anatomically modern human bones and artifacts have been found in cliff caves along the coast of South Africa. For many years, the lack of shellfish in some layers at these sites puzzled archaeologists. In spite of apparently living near the ocean, the inhabitants hunted mostly big game—the sort of animals that typically live farther inland.
Scientists knew a submerged landscape existed on the continental shelf just offshore, but it wasn't until recently, perhaps inspired by rising sea levels of our current human-caused global warming, they realized these caves might have made up the westernmost edge of a long-lost plain.
During most of the Pleistocene, the geological era before the one we live in now, these caves were not located on the coast. With so much of the Earth's water locked up in continent-sized glaciers, sea level was much lower, and humans could have thrived between the cliffs and a gentler coastline miles and miles to the east.
A special issue of Quaternary Science Reviews presents papers using a wide range of techniques to reconstruct the environment and ecology of the Paleo-Agulhas Plain. They reveal a verdant world rich with game, plant, and coastal resources, periodically cut off from the mainland during warm spells between glacial periods when sea level rose to levels similar to those of today, which would have played an important role in human evolution.

Franklin and her colleagues used modern vegetation patterns along the Cape south coast to develop models of the expected vegetation for the various soil types, as well as the climate (especially rainfall) and fire regimes of the past glacial periods that framed most of the timeframe in which modern humans emerged.
Joining her in the research were Richard M. Cowling and Alastair J. Potts of Nelson Mandela University; Guy F. Midgley at Stellenbosch University; Francois Engelbrecht of the University of Witwatersrand; and Curtis W. Marean of Arizona State University.
Vegetation was reconstructed based on a model of the ancient climate and fire patterns of these glacial phases that define human evolution. The group developed the vegetation model based on present-day patterns and environmental conditions, compared their model to an independently derived vegetation map to validate it, then applied it to the climate, landforms, and soils reconstructed for the peak of the last ice age on the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain.
Reconstruction, mapping, and modeling of the paleo-climate, geology, and soils by their collaborators are featured in other articles in the special issue.
The model found the paleo-landscape exposed during glacial low-sea levels added a land area the size of Ireland to the southern tip of Africa. Near the coast, it was dominated by "limestone fynbos," a low-stature, but species-rich shrubland typical of contemporary South Africa's Cape Floristic Province, a global plant diversity hotspot. The northern plains were mostly grasslands in shallow floodplains and on shale bedrock.
This savanna-like vegetation is rare in the modern landscape and would have supported the megafauna typical of glacial periods. These game animals, found in the archaeological record, include a great diversity of grazing animals, including the now-extinct giant Cape Buffalo, and others of which no longer occur naturally in this part of Africa, such as giraffes.
The Paleo-Agulhas plain had extremely high plant species diversity, as well as a greater variety of ecosystems and plant communities than currently found in this region, including shale grassland with dune fynbos-thicket mosaic on uplands and broad and shallow floodplains supporting a mosaic of woodland and grassland on fertile, alluvial soils.

Explore further
A lost world and extinct ecosystem

[b]More information:[/b] Richard M. Cowling et al, Describing a drowned Pleistocene ecosystem: Last Glacial Maximum vegetation reconstruction of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, Quaternary Science Reviews (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105866
[b]Journal information:[/b] Quaternary Science Reviews 

Provided by [url=]University of California - Riverside
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
New Evidence Supports Modern Greeks Having DNA of Ancient Mycenaeans
 Stavros Anastasiou

Jun 22, 2020

[Image: Mycenaean-Civilization.png]
Exterior of the Treasury of Atreus or the Tomb of Agamemnon on Panagitsa Hill at Mycenae, Greece. This tomb is one of the many archaeological sites left behind of the ancient mainland civilization.
New emerging DNA evidence suggests that living Greeks are indeed descendants of the ancient Mycenaeans, who ruled mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea from 1,600 BC to 1,200 BC.
The proof comes from a study in which scientists analyzed the genes from the teeth of 19 people across various archaeological sites within mainland Greece and Mycenae. A total of 1.2 million letters of genetic code were compared to those of 334 people across the world.
Genetic information was also compiled from a group of thirty modern Greek individuals in order to compare it to the ancient genomes. This allowed researchers to effectively plot how individuals were related to one another.
One aspect that was revealed in the study was how the Mycenaeans themselves were closely related to the Minoan civilization, which flourished on the island of Crete from 2,000 BC to 1,400 BC.
Both cultures were shown to carry genes for brown hair and brown eyes, characteristics that are reflected on their frescoes and pottery, despite having different languages.

[Image: Mycenaean-Woman.png]
Fresco of a Mycenaean Woman depicted with dark hair and eyes.
According to Harvard population geneticist Iosif Lazaridis, any difference between the two civilizations suggests that a second wave of people came to mainland Greece from Eastern Europe, yet were unable to reach the island of Crete — and in time they became known as the Mycenaeans.
After comparing the DNA of modern Greeks to ancient Mycenaeans, a genetic overlap was discovered that suggests that these ancient Bronze Age civilizations laid the genetic groundwork for later peoples.
Swedish Archaeologist Kristian Kristiansen at the University of Gothenburg commented on the significance of the study recently, saying that “The results have now opened up the next chapter in the genetic history of western Eurasia — that of the Bronze Age Mediterranean.”

Oldest Viking settlement possibly unearthed in Iceland
By Tom Metcalfe - Live Science Contributor 12 hours ago
It dates back decades before Vikings are supposed to have settled the island.

[Image: UhaCZQzbCtipG2QMHZKpZe-320-80.jpg]The oldest of the two Viking longhouses at Stöð dates from around A.D. 800, several decades before the commonly accepted date of the settlement of Iceland in A.D. 874.
(Image: © Bjarni Einarsson)

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest Viking settlement in Iceland.
The ancient longhouse is thought to be a summer settlement built in the 800s, decades before seafaring refugees are supposed to have settled the island, and was hidden beneath a younger longhouse brimming with treasures, said archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson, who led the excavations.
"The younger hall is the richest in Iceland so far," Einarsson told Live Science. "It is hard not to conclude that it is a chieftain's house."
Related: Photos: Viking outposts possibly found in Canada
Communal houses
The youngest of the two longhouses contained the most valuable horde of objects ever found in Iceland and was probably the hall of a Viking chieftain. (Image credit: Bjarni Einarsson)
Longhouses were large wooden halls, up to 250 feet (75 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) wide, covered with turf and thatch and used as communal habitations throughout the Norse lands during the Viking Age
They were divided into rooms and could be shared by several families. Fires were built in stone hearths along the center, and farm animals could be stabled there to protect them from cold.
Both longhouses were found at Stöð, near the village and fjord of Stöðvarfjörður in the east of Iceland. The younger structure dates to around A.D. 874 — the commonly accepted date for Iceland's settlement by people, who, according to Icelandic lore, were escaping the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair. It contains one of the most valuable hoards of ornamental beads, silver and ancient coins ever found in Scandinavia, Einarsson said. 
Related: Fierce fighters: 7 secrets of Viking seamen
Among the finds: Roman and Middle Eastern silver coins, and "hacksilver," which are cut and bent pieces of silver used as bullion or currency by the Vikings and other ancient peoples.
The excavations of the 130 foot-long (40 m) hall have also unearthed decorative glass beads, rings, weights and a tiny fragment of gold, Einarsson said. The inhabitants likely acquired these goods by trading local resources, such as the skins and meat from whales and seals, which were prized throughout Viking Scandinavia.
As well as Roman and Middle Eastern coins and pieces of silver, the excavations unearthed many decorative glass beads and a large sandstone bead that were probably used for trading. (Image credit: Bjarni Einarsson)

Atlantic expansion
Hidden beneath the treasure-filled longhouse was an even older structure. Chemical and other analysis suggest this buried longhouse was built in the 800s, long before the permanent settlement of Iceland, Einarsson said.
He thinks it was a seasonal settlement or camp, occupied only during the summer and maybe into the fall, by workers in the area.
Although walruses were not found in eastern Iceland, the local resources that could be eaten, preserved or traded could have included produce from fish, whales, seals and birds, he said.
The archaeologists have also found artifacts from the everyday life of the settlement, including several spindle whorls made of local sandstone that were used for spinning fibers into thread or twine. (Image credit: Bjarni Einarsson)
Parts of the older building investigated so far show it was one of the largest longhouses ever found in Iceland.
"We know that the westernmost part of the older hall was a smithy [for working with metal] — the only smithy within a hall known in Iceland," Einarsson said.
The seasonal camp at Stöð was similar in scale and function to the Viking settlement discovered at L'Anse aux Meadows, in what is now Newfoundland in Canada, which has been dated to around A.D. 1000, he said.
"This was a pattern of the settlement of the islands in the Atlantic Ocean," Einarsson said. "First, we had the seasonal camps, and then the settlement followed."
Einarsson has directed a private archaeological firm for more than 20 years, and from 2009 excavated a Viking Age settlement at Vogur, on Iceland's west coast, which depended on hunting walruses for their ivory, skins and meat.
He discovered the longhouse ruins at Stöð in 2007 and began excavations at the site in 2015. The project is paid for by Iceland's Archaeological Fund, the region's municipal government, companies and local people.
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)