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Paige Madison
Fossils are crucial pieces of evidence that illuminate the past. In the case of paleoanthropology, the discipline that studies human evolution, fossils are tangible objects that shape the ways we understand ourselves and our history. But how, exactly, do fossils find their way into these narratives, and into scientific journals and museums? How do they become pieces of evidence? The Forbes skull reveals a fossil that struggled to become a noteworthy piece of evidence. It was twice lost, first in a library cabinet on the Rock of Gibraltar, and later, in a London museum storeroom...
October 15, 2016: Endeavour
Brian Hare
The challenge of studying human cognitive evolution is identifying unique features of our intelligence while explaining the processes by which they arose. Comparisons with nonhuman apes point to our early-emerging cooperative-communicative abilities as crucial to the evolution of all forms of human cultural cognition, including language. The human selfdomestication hypothesis proposes that these early-emerging social skills evolved when natural selection favored increased in-group prosociality over aggression in late human evolution...
October 12, 2016: Annual Review of Psychology
A Gawlikowska-Sroka, J Szczurowski, B Kwiatkowska, P Konczewski, E Dzieciołowska-Baran, M Donotek, A Walecka, D Nowakowski
Concha bullosa is a variant of the sinonasal anatomy in which the middle nasal turbinate contains pneumatized cells, which leads to turbinate enlargement. The reason for concha bullosa formation is unclear, but the variant is seen in up to half the modern population and it may predispose to paranasal sinusitis. The variant has hitherto featured little in paleopathology. Therefore, in the present study we seek to determine the presence of concha bullosa, with the coexisting hypertrophy of the middle turbinate and signs of sinusitis or other pathology of the paranasal complex, in a population living in Tomersdorf-Toporow in the Upper Lausatia, a historical region in Germany and Poland, presently Zgorzelec County in the Lower Silesian voivodeship, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century...
September 11, 2016: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Chris N Bayer, Michael Luberda
Incomprehension and denial of the theory of evolution among high school students has been observed to also occur when teachers are not equipped to deliver a compelling case also for human evolution based on fossil evidence. This paper assesses the outcomes of a novel inquiry-based paleoanthropology lab teaching human evolution to high-school students. The inquiry-based Be a Paleoanthropologist for a Day lab placed a dozen hominin skulls into the hands of high-school students. Upon measuring three variables of human evolution, students explain what they have observed and discuss findings...
2016: PloS One
Tony Chevalier, Philippe Lefèvre, Jan Pieter Clarys, Jean-Pol Beauthier
Different practices in paleoanthropology and legal medicine raise questions concerning the robustness of body mass (BM) prediction. Integrating personal identification from body mass estimation with skeleton is not a classic approach in legal medicine. The originality of our study is the use of an elderly sample in order to push prediction methods to their limits and to discuss about implications in paleoanthropology and legal medicine. The aim is to observe the accuracy of BM prediction in relation to the body mass index (BMI, index of classification) using five femoral head (FH) methods and one shaft (FSH) method...
October 2016: Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Rebecca H Chisholm, James M Trauer, Darren Curnoe, Mark M Tanaka
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), a wildly successful group of organisms and the leading cause of death resulting from a single bacterial pathogen worldwide. It is generally accepted that MTBC established itself in human populations in Africa and that animal-infecting strains diverged from human strains. However, the precise causal factors of TB emergence remain unknown. Here, we propose that the advent of controlled fire use in early humans created the ideal conditions for the emergence of TB as a transmissible disease...
August 9, 2016: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
C Uzoigwe, N Johnson
Introduction Fractures of the distal radius are the most common fracture in humans and are the sempiternal hazard of 3.5 million years of bipedalism. Despite the antiquity of the injury, one of the most controversial topics in current orthopaedics is the management of distal radius fractures. It has been suggested that radiographic appearances rarely correlate with functional outcomes. As the success of the human species is predicated almost exclusively on its dexterity and intelligence, it is conceivable that the distal radius has evolved to preserve function even in the face of injury...
September 2016: Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Sabrina C Curran, Yohannes Haile-Selassie
Woranso-Mille is a paleoanthropological site in Ethiopia sampling an important and under-represented time period in human evolution (3.8-3.6 million years ago). Specimens of cf. Australopithecus anamensis, Australopithecus afarensis, and the recently named Australopithecus deyiremeda have been recovered from this site. Using multiple habitat proxies, this study provides a paleoecological reconstruction of two fossiliferous collection areas from Woranso-Mille, Aralee Issie (ARI) and Mesgid Dora (MSD). Previous reconstructions based on faunal assemblages have pointed, due to the presence of aepycerotins, alcelaphins, and proboscideans, to the existence of open habitats as well as more closed ones, based on the occurrence of cercopithecids, giraffids, and traglephins...
July 2016: Journal of Human Evolution
K M Lesciotto, L L Cabo, H M Garvin
Subnasal prognathism is a morphological feature often described in studies of paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, and forensic anthropology. This trait is commonly quantified using the gnathic index, which compares basion-prosthion and basion-nasion lengths. This study used geometric morphometrics to assess whether the gnathic index is a reliable indicator of subnasal prognathism and to explore the effects of sex, population, and allometry on this trait. Nineteen craniofacial landmarks were collected from three-dimensional cranial surface scans of 192 individuals across five population groups...
August 2016: Homo: Internationale Zeitschrift Für die Vergleichende Forschung Am Menschen
Beverly Z Saylor, Joshua Angelini, Alan Deino, Mulugeta Alene, John H Fournelle, Yohannes Haile-Selassie
Tephra geochemistry and (40)Ar/(39)Ar geochronology are reported for the Waki-Mille area in the northwestern part of the Woranso-Mille paleoanthropological project area in the west central Afar region of Ethiopia. Previous studies documented dentognathic fossils that are morphologically intermediate between Australopithecus anamensis and Australopithecus afarensis and some that are attributed to Australopithecus afarensis. Additional dentognathic remains from the study area were assigned to the newly identified species Australopithecus deyiremeda...
April 2016: Journal of Human Evolution
Andrea Parravicini, Telmo Pievani
Evolution is a process that occurs at many different levels, from genes to ecosystems. Genetic variations and ecological pressures are hence two sides of the same coin; but due both to fragmentary evidence and to the influence of a gene-centered and gradualistic approach to evolutionary phenomena, the field of paleoanthropology has been slow to take the role of macro-evolutionary patterns (i.e. ecological and biogeographical at large scale) seriously. However, several very recent findings in paleoanthropology stress both climate instability and ecological disturbance as key factors affecting the highly branching hominin phylogeny, from the earliest hominins to the appearance of cognitively modern humans...
June 20, 2016: Journal of Anthropological Sciences, Rivista di Antropologia: JASS
Pamela K Stone
Global efforts to improve maternal health are the fifth focus goal of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the international community in 2000. While maternal mortality is an epidemic, and the death of a woman in childbirth is tragic, certain assumptions that frame the risk of death for reproductive aged women continue to hinge on the anthropological theory of the "obstetric dilemma." According to this theory, a cost of hominin selection to bipedalism is the reduction of the pelvic girdle; in tension with increasing encephalization, this reduction results in cephalopelvic disproportion, creating an assumed fragile relationship between a woman, her reproductive body, and the neonates she gives birth to...
January 2016: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Denné Reed, W Andrew Barr, Shannon P Mcpherron, René Bobe, Denis Geraads, Jonathan G Wynn, Zeresenay Alemseged
Understanding patterns of human evolution across space and time requires synthesizing data collected by independent research teams, and this effort is part of a larger trend to develop cyber infrastructure and e-science initiatives. At present, paleoanthropology cannot easily answer basic questions about the total number of fossils and artifacts that have been discovered, or exactly how those items were collected. In this paper, we examine the methodological challenges to data integration, with the hope that mitigating the technical obstacles will further promote data sharing...
November 2015: Evolutionary Anthropology
Maurizio Serva
We propose and solve a stochastic mathematical model of general applicability to interbreeding populations which share the same habitat. Resources are limited so that the total population size is fixed by environmental factors. Interbreeding occurs during all the time of coexistence until one of the two population disappears by a random fluctuation. None of the two populations has a selective advantage. We answer the following questions: How long the two populations coexist and how genetically similar they become before the extinction of one of the two? how much the genetic makeup of the surviving population changes by the contribution of the disappearing one? what it is the number of interbreeding events given the observed introgression of genetic material? The model was originally motivated by a paleoanthropological problem concerning the interbreeding of Neanderthals and African modern humans in Middle East which is responsible for the fraction of Neanderthal genes (1-4%) in present Eurasian population...
December 2015: Bulletin of Mathematical Biology
Franck Guy, Vincent Lazzari, Emmanuel Gilissen, Ghislain Thiery
The form of two hard tissues of the mammalian tooth, dentine and enamel, is the result of a combination of the phylogenetic inheritance of dental traits and the adaptive selection of these traits during evolution. Recent decades have been significant in unveiling developmental processes controlling tooth morphogenesis, dental variation and the origination of dental novelties. The enamel-dentine junction constitutes a precursor for the morphology of the outer enamel surface through growth of the enamel cap which may go along with the addition of original features...
2015: PloS One
Jessica L Joganic
OBJECTIVES: Non-human primate growth trajectories are often used to estimate the age and life history traits of fossil taxa. The exclusive use of chimpanzee growth patterns to estimate developmental stages for the earliest hominins is problematic because incomplete lineage sorting in the hominoid clade has produced a mosaic human genome that contains different regions shared with any one of the great apes. The accidental death of a sub-adult male western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) provides not only an opportunity to compare the degree of dentoskeletal maturation in this individual with published data from conspecifics, but also insight into gorilla growth and development as it applies to modeling that of early hominins...
January 2016: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Ann Gibbons
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 11, 2015: Science
Aniol Pujol, Carme Rissech, Jacint Ventura, Daniel Turbón
OBJECTIVE: To describe the morphological changes of the male femur during the adolescent growth spurt and to compare the pattern obtained with that reported previously for females. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Two hundred and forty males from a Spanish population aged between 9 and 16 years were analysed, based on telemetries. Size and shape variation of the femur was quantified by 22 2D-landmarks and analysed using geometric morphometric methods. Likewise, the variation of neck-shaft and bicondylar angles were also determined and evaluated by Student's t-test...
January 2016: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Travis Rayne Pickering, Sergio Almécija, Jason L Heaton, Enrique Baquedano, Audax Mabulla, David Uribelarrea
Modern humans are characterized by specialized hand morphology that is associated with advanced manipulative skills. Thus, there is important debate in paleoanthropology about the possible cause-effect relationship of this modern human-like (MHL) hand anatomy, its associated grips and the invention and use of stone tools by early hominins. Here we describe and analyse Olduvai Hominin (OH) 86, a manual proximal phalanx from the recently discovered >1.84-million-year-old (Ma) Philip Tobias Korongo (PTK) site at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)...
2015: Nature Communications
Johannes Pfleging, Marius Stücheli, Radu Iovita, Jonas Buchli
Reconstructing ancient technical gestures associated with simple tool actions is crucial for understanding the co-evolution of the human forelimb and its associated control-related cognitive functions on the one hand, and of the human technological arsenal on the other hand. Although the topic of gesture is an old one in Paleolithic archaeology and in anthropology in general, very few studies have taken advantage of the new technologies from the science of kinematics in order to improve replicative experimental protocols...
2015: PloS One
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