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Bibliography on: Neanderthals

The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: Providing world-wide, free access to classic scientific papers and other scholarly materials, since 1993.


ESP: PubMed Auto Bibliography 03 Jul 2022 at 01:47 Created: 


Wikipedia: Neanderthals or Neandertals — named for the Neandertal region in Germany — were a species or subspecies of archaic human, in the genus Homo. Neanderthals became extinct around 40,000 years ago. They were closely related to modern humans, sharing 99.7% of DNA. Remains left by Neanderthals include bone and stone tools, which are found in Eurasia, from Western Europe to Central and Northern Asia. Neanderthals are generally classified by paleontologists as the species Homo neanderthalensis, having separated from the Homo sapiens lineage 600,000 years ago, but a minority consider them to be a subspecies of Homo sapiens (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). Several cultural assemblages have been linked to the Neanderthals in Europe. The earliest, the Mousterian stone tool culture, dates to about 160,000 years ago. Late Mousterian artifacts were found in Gorham's Cave on the south-facing coast of Gibraltar. Compared to Homo sapiens, Neanderthals had a lower surface-to-volume ratio, with shorter legs and a bigger body, in conformance with Bergmann's rule, as an energy-loss reduction adaptation to life in a high-latitude (i.e. seasonally cold) climate. Their average cranial capacity was notably larger than typical for modern humans: 1600 cm3 vs. 1250-1400 cm3. The Neanderthal genome project published papers in 2010 and 2014 stating that Neanderthals contributed to the DNA of modern humans, including most humans outside sub-Saharan Africa, as well as a few populations in sub-Saharan Africa, through interbreeding, likely between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Created with PubMed® Query: Neanderthal OR Neandertal NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2022-06-27

Kerner G, L Quintana-Murci (2022)

The genetic and evolutionary determinants of COVID-19 susceptibility.

European journal of human genetics : EJHG [Epub ahead of print].

Devastating pandemics, such as that due to COVID-19, can provide strong testimony to our knowledge of the genetic and evolutionary determinants of infectious disease susceptibility and severity. One of the most remarkable aspects of such outbreaks is the stunning interindividual variability observed in the course of infection. In recent decades, enormous progress has been made in the field of the human genetics of infectious diseases, and an increasing number of human genetic factors have been reported to explain, to a great extent, the observed variability for a large number of infectious agents. However, our understanding of the cellular, molecular, and immunological mechanisms underlying such disparities between individuals and ethnic groups, remains very limited. Here, we discuss recent findings relating to human genetic predisposition to infectious disease, from an immunological or population genetic perspective, and show how these and other innovative approaches have been applied to deciphering the genetic basis of human susceptibility to COVID-19 and the severity of this disease. From an evolutionary perspective, we show how past demographic and selection events characterizing the history of our species, including admixture with archaic humans, such as Neanderthals, facilitated modern human adaptation to the threats imposed by ancient pathogens. In the context of emerging infectious diseases, these past episodes of genetic adaptation may contribute to some of the observed population differences in the outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the severity of COVID-19 illness.

RevDate: 2022-06-27

Theofanopoulou C, Andirkó A, Boeckx C, et al (2022)

Oxytocin and vasotocin receptor variation and the evolution of human prosociality.

Comprehensive psychoneuroendocrinology, 11:100139 pii:S2666-4976(22)00030-3.

Modern human lifestyle strongly depends on complex social traits like empathy, tolerance and cooperation. These diverse facets of social cognition have been associated with variation in the oxytocin receptor (OTR) and its sister genes, the vasotocin/vasopressin receptors (VTR1A/AVPR1A and AVPR1B/VTR1B). Here, we compared the available genomic sequences of these receptors between modern humans, archaic humans, and 12 non-human primate species, and identified sites that show heterozygous variation in modern humans and archaic humans distinct from variation in other primates, and for which we could find association studies with clinical implications. On these sites, we performed a range of analyses (variant clustering, pathogenicity prediction, regulation, linkage disequilibrium frequency), and reviewed the literature on selection data in different modern-human populations. We found five sites with modern human specific variation, where the modern human allele is the major allele in the global population (OTR: rs1042778, rs237885, rs6770632; VTR1A: rs10877969; VTR1B: rs33985287). Among them, variation in the OTR-rs6770632 site was predicted to be the most functional. Two alleles (OTR: rs59190448 and rs237888) present only in modern humans and archaic humans were putatively under positive selection in modern humans, with rs237888 predicted to be a highly functional site. Three sites showed convergent evolution between modern humans and bonobos (OTR: rs2228485 and rs237897; VTR1A: rs1042615), with OTR-rs2228485 ranking highly in terms of functionality and reported to be under balancing selection in modern humans (Schaschl, 2015) [1]. Our findings have implications for understanding hominid prosociality, as well as the similarities between modern human and bonobo social behavior.

RevDate: 2022-06-23

Weasel L (2022)

How Neanderthals Became White: The Introgression of Race into Contemporary Human Evolutionary Genetics.

The American naturalist, 200(1):129-139.

AbstractHuman evolutionary theory has a history rife with racial biases in what might be considered its distant past that can appear glaringly obvious from our current vantage point. Despite the recognition that as a social activity science is always vulnerable to such biases (and science that attempts to uncover human origin stories all the more so), commitment to the scientific method can lead us to believe that we have improved on, overcome, or otherwise escaped these tendencies in our contemporary practices, whether through scientific contrition, changing social context, or better training and composition of research teams or as a result of advances in technologies and methodologies. This article adapts the evolutionary biology concept of introgression, which refers to the hybridization and repeated bidirectional backcross exchange of information between species, as a metaphorical frame to examine science itself and to trace the ways in which historic race biases from earlier, disowned human evolution research have been retained and selected for beneath the surface of current genomic research today. It takes as its focus the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, first announced in 2006 and refined since, and the explosion of scientific research comparing that sequence to present-day human DNA from individuals around the world to illustrate the ways in which current research questions and findings in comparative evolutionary genomics draw on and dredge up earlier biases, albeit adapted to and disguised within contemporary social relations and power differentials.

RevDate: 2022-06-21

Ping WJ, Liu YC, QM Fu (2022)

Exploring the evolution of archaic humans through sedimentary ancient DNA.

Yi chuan = Hereditas, 44(5):362-369.

Recent success in the retrieval of nuclear DNA of ancient humans and animals from cave sediments paves the way for genome-wide studies of past populations directly from sediments. In three studies, nuclear genomes of different species were obtained from the sediments of multiple archeological caves and their genetic histories were revealed, including an unknown population replacement of Neanderthals from Estatuas cave in Spain, which was recovered using a new DNA capture approach. By extending sediments as a source of DNA beyond fossils, this breakthrough is of particular significance to the field of ancient human genomics, which brings about more possibilities for exploring the history of past population migration, evolution and adaptation within larger time-scales and geographical areas where no fossil remains exist. Here, we mainly review the significance of the technical advances in retrieving ancient nuclear DNA from sediments and present new insights into the genetic history of Neanderthals revealed by this technique. By combining ancient genomes retrieved from fossils and additional mitochondrial DNA extracted from sediments of archaeological sites, we may begin investigating diverse archaic populations and examine their genetic relationships, movements and replacements in detail.

RevDate: 2022-06-10

Pan L, Zanolli C, Martinón-Torres M, et al (2022)

Early Pleistocene hominin teeth from Gongwangling of Lantian, Central China.

Journal of human evolution, 168:103212 pii:S0047-2484(22)00072-0 [Epub ahead of print].

The fossil hominin individual from Gongwangling of Lantian, Central China, represents one of the earliest members attributed to Homo erectus in East Asia. Recent paleomagnetic analyses have yielded an age of 1.63 Ma for the Gongwangling hominin. The fossils from this site are critical to characterize the morphological features of early hominins in East Asia and to understand their relationships with other earlier and later members of the genus Homo. However, most morphological details of the Gongwangling cranium were obliterated due to postmortem erosion and deformation. Here we used high-resolution microcomputed tomography and three-dimensional virtual imaging techniques to extract the teeth and reconstruct the worn/damaged areas, describe the external morphology, measure crown diameters, record nonmetric traits of the crown and root, and investigate the shape of the enamel-dentine junction using geometric morphometrics. We compared the data obtained from the six teeth of the Gongwangling hominin with African early Homo, African and Georgian Homo erectus s.l., Asian Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, pre-Neanderthals, Neanderthals, and modern humans. Our results show that the Gongwangling specimens display affinities with other specimens attributed to H. erectus s.l. The highly divergent and noncoalesced three-root system in the Gongwangling specimens is comparable to that in the Early Pleistocene members of H. erectus s.l., and differs from Middle Pleistocene representatives of the species. The enamel-dentine junction shape of the Gongwangling molars prefigures the Asian H. erectus pattern later found in East Asian Middle Pleistocene H. erectus. The morphological comparisons between East Asian Early Pleistocene (e.g., Gongwangling, Meipu, and Quyuan River Mouth) and Middle Pleistocene H. erectus (e.g., Zhoukoudian, Hexian, and Yiyuan) suggest a potential temporal trend within this species in East Asia.

RevDate: 2022-06-02

Marcazzan D, Miller CE, Ligouis B, et al (2022)

Middle and Upper Paleolithic occupations of Fumane Cave (Italy): a geoarchaeological investigation of the anthropogenic features.

Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS, 100: [Epub ahead of print].

Here we present the results of a microcontextual analysis of purported combustion features recovered from Middle and Upper Paleolithic occupations at the cave site of Fumane, Italy. Our analyses, which integrate micromorphology with organic petrology, show that only a few of the features represent primary, intact hearths; some of them show evidence for various phases of anthropogenic reworking, either through trampling or sweeping and dumping. Several of the features are multi-layered and reflect a complex formation history of various activities related to combustion and site maintenance. Many appear to be the remnants of occupation horizons only partially preserved and peripherally related to combustion. Within several of the intact hearths from the Mousterian, we were able to identify variable fuel sources in different features, implying a degree of flexibility in the fuel-selection strategies of the Neanderthal occupants of Fumane. In this study we design a classification system of the anthropogenic features and also conduct a spatial analysis, through which we can infer diachronic patterns in the frequency and intensity of site occupation and the spatial distribution of activities. We note a decrease in frequency of combustion features throughout the Mousterian which continues into the Uluzzian. The features associated with the Protoaurignacian occupation, in contrast with those from the Mousterian, are multi-layered and well-defined. We argue that these trends, which correspond with other trends in artefact frequency, imply changes in the settlement dynamics of the site during the transition from the last Neanderthal occupation of the cave to the arrival of modern humans.

RevDate: 2022-05-26

Zubova AV, Moiseyev VG, Kulkov AM, et al (2022)

Maxillary second molar from the Rozhok I Micoquian site (Azov Sea region): Another link between Eastern Europe and Siberia.

Journal of human evolution, 168:103209 pii:S0047-2484(22)00069-0 [Epub ahead of print].

RevDate: 2022-05-25

Bergmann I, Hublin JJ, Ben-Ncer A, et al (2022)

The relevance of late MSA mandibles on the emergence of modern morphology in Northern Africa.

Scientific reports, 12(1):8841.

North Africa is a key area for understanding hominin population movements and the expansion of our species. It is home to the earliest currently known Homo sapiens (Jebel Irhoud) and several late Middle Stone Age (MSA) fossils, notably Kébibat, Contrebandiers 1, Dar-es-Soltane II H5 and El Harhoura. Mostly referred to as "Aterian" they fill a gap in the North African fossil record between Jebel Irhoud and Iberomaurusians. We explore morphological continuity in this region by quantifying mandibular shape using 3D (semi)landmark geometric morphometric methods in a comparative framework of late Early and Middle Pleistocene hominins (n = 15), Neanderthals (n = 27) and H. sapiens (n = 145). We discovered a set of mixed features among late MSA fossils that is in line with an accretion of modern traits through time and an ongoing masticatory gracilization process. In Northern Africa, Aterians display similarities to Iberomaurusians and recent humans in the area as well as to the Tighenif and Thomas Quarry hominins, suggesting a greater time depth for regional continuity than previously assumed. The evidence we lay out for a long-term succession of hominins and humans emphasizes North Africa's role as source area of the earliest H. sapiens.

RevDate: 2022-05-16

Buisan R, Moriano J, Andirkó A, et al (2022)

A Brain Region-Specific Expression Profile for Genes Within Large Introgression Deserts and Under Positive Selection in Homo sapiens.

Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 10:824740.

Analyses of ancient DNA from extinct hominins have provided unique insights into the complex evolutionary history of Homo sapiens, intricately related to that of the Neanderthals and the Denisovans as revealed by several instances of admixture events. These analyses have also allowed the identification of introgression deserts: genomic regions in our species that are depleted of "archaic" haplotypes. The presence of genes like FOXP2 in these deserts has been taken to be suggestive of brain-related functional differences between Homo species. Here, we seek a deeper characterization of these regions and the specific expression trajectories of genes within them, taking into account signals of positive selection in our lineage. Analyzing publicly available transcriptomic data from the human brain at different developmental stages, we found that structures outside the cerebral neocortex, in particular the cerebellum, the striatum and the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus show the most divergent transcriptomic profiles when considering genes within large introgression deserts and under positive selection.

RevDate: 2022-05-13

Winter C, Zengerling F, Busch J, et al (2022)

How to classify, diagnose, treat and follow-up extragonadal germ cell tumors? A systematic review of available evidence.

World journal of urology [Epub ahead of print].

PURPOSE: To present the current evidence and the development of studies in recent years on the management of extragonadal germ cell tumors (EGCT).

METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted in Medline and the Cochrane Library. Studies within the search period (January 2010 to February 2021) that addressed the classification, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and follow-up of extragonadal tumors were included. Risk of bias was assessed and relevant data were extracted in evidence tables.

RESULTS: The systematic search identified nine studies. Germ cell tumors (GCT) arise predominantly from within the testis, but about 5% of the tumors are primarily located extragonadal. EGCT are localized primarily mediastinal or retroperitoneal in the midline of the body. EGCT patients are classified according to the IGCCCG classification. Consecutively, all mediastinal non-seminomatous EGCT patients belong to the "poor prognosis" group. In contrast mediastinal seminoma and both retroperitoneal seminoma and non-seminoma patients seem to have a similar prognosis as patients with gonadal GCTs and metastasis at theses respective sites. The standard chemotherapy regimen for patients with a EGCT consists of 3-4 cycles (good vs intermediate prognosis) of bleomycin, etoposid, cisplatin (BEP); however, due to their very poor prognosis patients with non-seminomatous mediastinal GCT should receive a dose-intensified or high-dose chemotherapy approach upfront on an individual basis and should thus be referred to expert centers Ifosfamide may be exchanged for bleomycin in cases of additional pulmonary metastasis due to subsequently planned resections. In general patients with non-seminomatous EGCT, residual tumor resection (RTR) should be performed after chemotherapy.

CONCLUSION: In general, non-seminomatous EGCT have a poorer prognosis compared to testicular GCT, while seminomatous EGGCT seem to have a similar prognosis to patients with metastatic testicular seminoma. The current insights on EGCT are limited, since all data are mainly based on case series and studies with small patient numbers and non-comparative studies. In general, systemic treatment should be performed like in testicular metastatic GCTs but upfront dose intensification of chemotherapy should be considered for mediastinal non-seminoma patients. Thus, EGCT should be referred to interdisciplinary centers with utmost experience in the treatment of germ cell tumors.

RevDate: 2022-05-17
CmpDate: 2022-05-17

Andirkó A, C Boeckx (2022)

Brain region-specific effects of nearly fixed sapiens-derived alleles.

BMC genomic data, 23(1):36.

The availability of high-coverage genomes of our extinct relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, and the emergence of large, tissue-specific databases of modern human genetic variation, offer the possibility of probing the effects of modern-derived alleles in specific tissues, such as the brain, and its specific regions. While previous research has explored the effects of introgressed variants in gene expression, the effects of Homo sapiens-specific gene expression variability are still understudied. Here we identify derived, Homo sapiens-specific high-frequency (≥90%) alleles that are associated with differential gene expression across 15 brain structures derived from the GTEx database. We show that regulation by these derived variants targets regions under positive selection more often than expected by chance, and that high-frequency derived alleles lie in functional categories related to transcriptional regulation. Our results highlight the role of these variants in gene regulation in specific regions like the cerebellum and pituitary.

RevDate: 2022-05-09
CmpDate: 2022-05-09

Mocci S, Littera R, Tranquilli S, et al (2022)

A Protective HLA Extended Haplotype Outweighs the Major COVID-19 Risk Factor Inherited From Neanderthals in the Sardinian Population.

Frontiers in immunology, 13:891147.

Sardinia has one of the lowest incidences of hospitalization and related mortality in Europe and yet a very high frequency of the Neanderthal risk locus variant on chromosome 3 (rs35044562), considered to be a major risk factor for a severe SARS-CoV-2 disease course. We evaluated 358 SARS-CoV-2 patients and 314 healthy Sardinian controls. One hundred and twenty patients were asymptomatic, 90 were pauci-symptomatic, 108 presented a moderate disease course and 40 were severely ill. All patients were analyzed for the Neanderthal-derived genetic variants reported as being protective (rs1156361) or causative (rs35044562) for severe illness. The β°39 C>T Thalassemia variant (rs11549407), HLA haplotypes, KIR genes, KIRs and their HLA class I ligand combinations were also investigated. Our findings revealed an increased risk for severe disease in Sardinian patients carrying the rs35044562 high risk variant [OR 5.32 (95% CI 2.53 - 12.01), p = 0.000]. Conversely, the protective effect of the HLA-A*02:01, B*18:01, DRB*03:01 three-loci extended haplotype in the Sardinian population was shown to efficiently contrast the high risk of a severe and devastating outcome of the infection predicted for carriers of the Neanderthal locus [OR 15.47 (95% CI 5.8 - 41.0), p < 0.0001]. This result suggests that the balance between risk and protective immunogenetic factors plays an important role in the evolution of COVID-19. A better understanding of these mechanisms may well turn out to be the biggest advantage in the race for the development of more efficient drugs and vaccines.

RevDate: 2022-05-09
CmpDate: 2022-05-09

Rüther PL, Husic IM, Bangsgaard P, et al (2022)

SPIN enables high throughput species identification of archaeological bone by proteomics.

Nature communications, 13(1):2458.

Species determination based on genetic evidence is an indispensable tool in archaeology, forensics, ecology, and food authentication. Most available analytical approaches involve compromises with regard to the number of detectable species, high cost due to low throughput, or a labor-intensive manual process. Here, we introduce "Species by Proteome INvestigation" (SPIN), a shotgun proteomics workflow for analyzing archaeological bone capable of querying over 150 mammalian species by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Rapid peptide chromatography and data-independent acquisition (DIA) with throughput of 200 samples per day reduce expensive MS time, whereas streamlined sample preparation and automated data interpretation save labor costs. We confirm the successful classification of known reference bones, including domestic species and great apes, beyond the taxonomic resolution of the conventional peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF)-based Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) method. In a blinded study of degraded Iron-Age material from Scandinavia, SPIN produces reproducible results between replicates, which are consistent with morphological analysis. Finally, we demonstrate the high throughput capabilities of the method in a high-degradation context by analyzing more than two hundred Middle and Upper Palaeolithic bones from Southern European sites with late Neanderthal occupation. While this initial study is focused on modern and archaeological mammalian bone, SPIN will be open and expandable to other biological tissues and taxa.

RevDate: 2022-05-03
CmpDate: 2022-05-02

Rodríguez J, Willmes C, Sommer C, et al (2022)

Sustainable human population density in Western Europe between 560.000 and 360.000 years ago.

Scientific reports, 12(1):6907.

The time period between 560 and 360 ka (MIS14 to MIS11) was critical for the evolution of the Neanderthal lineage and the appearance of Levallois technology in Europe. The shifts in the distribution of the human populations, driven by cyclical climate changes, are generally accepted to have played major roles in both processes. We used a dataset of palaeoclimate maps and a species distribution model to reconstruct the changes in the area of Western Europe with suitable environmental conditions for humans during 11 time intervals of the MIS14 to MIS 11 period. Eventually, the maximum sustainable human population within the suitable area during each time interval was estimated by extrapolating the relationship observed between recent hunter-gatherer population density and net primary productivity and applying it to the past. Contrary to common assumptions, our results showed the three Mediterranean Peninsulas were not the only region suitable for humans during the glacial periods. The estimated total sustainable population of Western Europe from MIS14 to MIS11 oscillated between 13,000 and 25,000 individuals. These results offer a new theoretical scenario to develop models and hypotheses to explain cultural and biological evolution during the Middle Pleistocene in Western Europe.

RevDate: 2022-04-24
CmpDate: 2022-04-22

Vallini L, Marciani G, Aneli S, et al (2022)

Genetics and Material Culture Support Repeated Expansions into Paleolithic Eurasia from a Population Hub Out of Africa.

Genome biology and evolution, 14(4):.

The population dynamics that followed the Out of Africa (OoA) expansion and the whereabouts of the early migrants before the differentiation that ultimately led to the formation of Oceanian, West and East Eurasian macropopulations have long been debated. Shedding light on these events may, in turn, provide clues to better understand the cultural evolution in Eurasia between 50 and 35 ka. Here, we analyze Eurasian Paleolithic DNA evidence to provide a comprehensive population model and validate it in light of available material culture. Leveraging on our integrated approach we propose the existence of a Eurasian population Hub, where Homo sapiens lived between the OoA and the broader colonization of Eurasia, which was characterized by multiple events of expansion and local extinction. A major population wave out of Hub, of which Ust'Ishim, Bacho Kiro, and Tianyuan are unadmixed representatives, is broadly associated with Initial Upper Paleolithic lithics and populated West and East Eurasia before or around 45 ka, before getting largely extinct in Europe. In this light, we suggest a parsimonious placement of Oase1 as an individual related to Bacho Kiro who experienced additional Neanderthal introgression. Another expansion, started before 38 ka, is broadly associated with Upper Paleolithic industries and repopulated Europe with sporadic admixtures with the previous wave (GoyetQ116-1) and more systematic ones, whereas moving through Siberia (Yana, Mal'ta). Before these events, we also confirm Zlatý Kůň as the most basal human lineage sequenced to date OoA, potentially representing an earlier wave of expansion out of the Hub.

RevDate: 2022-04-20

Brand CM, Colbran LL, JA Capra (2022)

Predicting Archaic Hominin Phenotypes from Genomic Data.

Annual review of genomics and human genetics [Epub ahead of print].

Ancient DNA provides a powerful window into the biology of extant and extinct species, including humans' closest relatives: Denisovans and Neanderthals. Here, we review what is known about archaic hominin phenotypes from genomic data and how those inferences have been made. We contend that understanding the influence of variants on lower-level molecular phenotypes-such as gene expression and protein function-is a promising approach to using ancient DNA to learn about archaic hominin traits. Molecular phenotypes have simpler genetic architectures than organism-level complex phenotypes, and this approach enables moving beyond association studies by proposing hypotheses about the effects of archaic variants that are testable in model systems. The major challenge to understanding archaic hominin phenotypes is broadening our ability to accurately map genotypes to phenotypes, but ongoing advances ensure that there will be much more to learn about archaic hominin phenotypes from their genomes. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Volume 23 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.

RevDate: 2022-05-05

Witt KE, Villanea F, Loughran E, et al (2022)

Apportioning archaic variants among modern populations.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 377(1852):20200411.

The apportionment of human genetic diversity within and between populations has been measured to understand human relatedness and demographic history. Likewise, the distribution of archaic ancestry in modern populations can be leveraged to better understand the interaction between our species and its archaic relatives. Resolving the interactions between modern and archaic human populations can be difficult, as archaic variants in modern populations have been shaped by genetic drift, bottlenecks and gene flow. Here, we investigate the distribution of archaic variation in Eurasian populations. We find that archaic ancestry coverage at the individual- and population-level present distinct patterns in modern human populations: South Asians have nearly twice the number of population-unique archaic alleles compared with Europeans or East Asians, indicating that these populations experienced differing demographic and archaic admixture events. We confirm previous observations that East Asian individuals have more Neanderthal ancestry than European individuals, but surprisingly, when we compare the number of single nucleotide polymorphisms with archaic alleles found across a population, Europeans have more Neanderthal ancestry than East Asians. We compare these results to simulated models and conclude that these patterns are consistent with multiple admixture events between modern humans and Neanderthals. This article is part of the theme issue 'Celebrating 50 years since Lewontin's apportionment of human diversity'.

RevDate: 2022-05-09

Timmermann A, Yun KS, Raia P, et al (2022)

Climate effects on archaic human habitats and species successions.

Nature, 604(7906):495-501.

It has long been believed that climate shifts during the last 2 million years had a pivotal role in the evolution of our genus Homo1-3. However, given the limited number of representative palaeo-climate datasets from regions of anthropological interest, it has remained challenging to quantify this linkage. Here, we use an unprecedented transient Pleistocene coupled general circulation model simulation in combination with an extensive compilation of fossil and archaeological records to study the spatiotemporal habitat suitability for five hominin species over the past 2 million years. We show that astronomically forced changes in temperature, rainfall and terrestrial net primary production had a major impact on the observed distributions of these species. During the Early Pleistocene, hominins settled primarily in environments with weak orbital-scale climate variability. This behaviour changed substantially after the mid-Pleistocene transition, when archaic humans became global wanderers who adapted to a wide range of spatial climatic gradients. Analysis of the simulated hominin habitat overlap from approximately 300-400 thousand years ago further suggests that antiphased climate disruptions in southern Africa and Eurasia contributed to the evolutionary transformation of Homo heidelbergensis populations into Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, respectively. Our robust numerical simulations of climate-induced habitat changes provide a framework to test hypotheses on our human origin.

RevDate: 2022-04-08

Pagano AS, Smith CM, Balzeau A, et al (2022)

Nasopharyngeal morphology contributes to understanding the "muddle in the middle" of the Pleistocene hominin fossil record.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

The late archeologist Glynn Isaac first applied the term "muddle in the middle" to a poorly understood period in the Middle Pleistocene human fossil record. This study uses the nasopharyngeal boundaries as a source of traits that may inform this unclear period of human evolution. The nasopharynx lies at the nexus of several vital physiological systems, yet relatively little is known about its importance in human evolution. We analyzed a geographically diverse contemporary Homo sapiens growth series (n = 180 adults, 237 nonadults), Homo neanderthalensis (La Chapelle aux Saints 1, La Ferrassie 1, Forbes Quarry 1, Monte Circeo 1, and Saccopastore 1), mid-Pleistocene Homo (Atapuerca 5, Kabwe 1, Petralona 1, and Steinheim 1), and two Homo erectus sensu lato (KNM-ER 3733 and Sangiran 17). Methods include traditional (Analysis 1) and 3D geometric morphometric analysis (Analysis 2). H. erectus exhibited tall, narrow nasopharyngeal shape, a robust, ancestral morphology. Kabwe 1 and Petralona 1 plotted among H. sapiens in Analysis 2, exhibiting relatively shorter and vertical cartilaginous Eustachian tubes and vertical medial pterygoid plates. Atapuerca 5 and Steinheim 1 exhibited horizontal vomeral orientation similar to H. neanderthalensis, indicating greater relative soft palate length and anteroposterior nasopharynx expansion. They may exhibit synapomorphies with H. neanderthalensis, supporting the accretionary hypothesis. Species-level differences were found among H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis, including relatively longer dilator tubae muscles and extreme facial airorhynchy among Neanderthals. Furthermore, H. neanderthalensis were autapomorphic in exhibiting horizontal pterygoid plate orientation similar to human infants, suggesting that they may have had inferiorly low placement of the torus tubarius and Eustachian tube orifice on the lateral nasopharyngeal wall in life. This study supports use of osseous nasopharyngeal boundaries both for morphological characters and understanding evolution of otitis media susceptibility in living humans.

RevDate: 2022-05-09

Rios-Garaizar J, Iriarte E, Arnold LJ, et al (2022)

The intrusive nature of the Châtelperronian in the Iberian Peninsula.

PloS one, 17(3):e0265219.

Multiple factors have been proposed to explain the disappearance of Neandertals between ca. 50 and 40 kyr BP. Central to these discussions has been the identification of new techno-cultural complexes that overlap with the period of Neandertal demise in Europe. One such complex is the Châtelperronian, which extends from the Paris Basin to the Northern Iberian Peninsula between 43,760-39,220 BP. In this study we present the first open-air Châtelperronian site in the Northern Iberian Peninsula, Aranbaltza II. The technological features of its stone tool assemblage show no links with previous Middle Paleolithic technology in the region, and chronological modeling reveals a gap between the latest Middle Paleolithic and the Châtelperronian in this area. We interpret this as evidence of local Neandertal extinction and replacement by other Neandertal groups coming from southern France, illustrating how local extinction episodes could have played a role in the process of disappearance of Neandertals.

RevDate: 2022-05-17

Roksandic M, Radović P, Lindal J, et al (2022)

Early Neanderthals in contact: The Chibanian (Middle Pleistocene) hominin dentition from Velika Balanica Cave, Southern Serbia.

Journal of human evolution, 166:103175.

Neanderthals are Eurasian fossil hominins whose distinctive morphology developed in the southwestern corner of Europe and later spread throughout the continent, reaching Southwest Asia before the Late Pleistocene and spreading into Central Asia by 59-49 ka. The timing, tempo, and route of the Neanderthal movements eastward are poorly documented. The earliest probable evidence of Neanderthals in Asia comes from Karain E Cave (Anatolia, Turkey), dated to 250-200 ka. We present four Chibanian (Middle Pleistocene) hominin specimens, representing at least two individuals, from Velika Balanica Cave (Serbia): a permanent upper third molar (BH-2), a deciduous upper fourth premolar (BH-3) refitted to a poorly preserved maxillary fragment with the permanent first molar in the alveolus (BH-4), and a permanent upper central incisor (BH-5). We provide descriptions of the teeth, as well as a comparative analysis of the well-preserved M1 (BH-4), including assessments of cusp angles, relative occlusal polygon area, relative cusp base areas, two- and three-dimensional enamel thickness, and taurodontism. Morphology of both the occlusal surface and the enamel dentine junction of the M1 indicates that the maxillary fragment and associated dP4 belonged to an early Neanderthal child. The heavily worn I1 and M3 are consistent with the Neanderthal morphology, although they are less distinct taxonomically. These Chibanian remains with provenance from layer 3a are constrained by two thermoluminescence dates: 285 ± 34 ka and 295 ± 74 ka. They represent the earliest current evidence of Neanderthal spread into the Eastern Mediterranean Area. We discuss these findings in light of recent direct evidence for cultural connections between Southwestern Asia and Southeast Europe in the Chibanian.

RevDate: 2022-05-17

Pop CM, Wilson L, CL Browne (2022)

Evaluating landscape knowledge and lithic resource selection at the French Middle Paleolithic site of the Bau de l'Aubesier.

Journal of human evolution, 166:103152.

We report on the application of a novel approach to exploring the degree of landscape knowledge, wayfinding abilities, and the nature of decision-making processes reflected in the utilization of stone resources in the French Middle Paleolithic. Specifically, we use data from the site of the Bau de l'Aubesier to explore the reasons why a majority of the 350 raw material sources cataloged in the surrounding region appear not to have been utilized, including several located near the site and yielding high-quality lithic materials. To this end, we focus on the spatial relationships between sources as an explanatory variable, operationalized in terms of minimum travel times. Using geographic information system software and a generalized linear model of resource selection derived from the Bau assemblages, we compute source utilization probabilities from the perspective of hominins located off-site. We do so under three optimization scenarios, factoring in the intrinsic characteristics (e.g., quality) and time required to reach each source on the way to the Bau. More generally, we find that in slightly more than 50% of cases, seemingly viable sources may have been ignored simply because the minimum cost path leading back to the Bau passes through or requires only minimal deviations to reach, higher quality options. More generally, we found that throughout the entire region, a cost/benefit analysis of competing sources favors those from source areas known to have been utilized. Virtually all the available information on lithic procurement at the Bau is consistent with a model of landscape utilization premised on detailed knowledge of a very large area, an ability to accurately estimate travel times between locations, and a pragmatic strategy of stone resource exploitation based on minimizing costs (travel and search times) and maximizing utility.

RevDate: 2022-05-10

Kubicka AM, Balzeau A, Kosicki J, et al (2022)

Variation in cross-sectional indicator of femoral robusticity in Homo sapiens and Neandertals.

Scientific reports, 12(1):4739.

Variations in the cross-sectional properties of long bones are used to reconstruct the activity of human groups and differences in their respective habitual behaviors. Knowledge of what factors influence bone structure in Homo sapiens and Neandertals is still insufficient thus, this study investigated which biological and environmental variables influence variations in the femoral robusticity indicator of these two species. The sample consisted of 13 adult Neandertals from the Middle Paleolithic and 1959 adult individuals of H. sapiens ranging chronologically from the Upper Paleolithic to recent times. The femoral biomechanical properties were derived from the European data set, the subject literature, and new CT scans. The material was tested using a Mantel test and statistical models. In the models, the polar moment of area (J) was the dependent variable; sex, age, chronological period, type of lifestyle, percentage of the cortical area (%CA), the ratio of second moment areas of inertia about the X and Y axes (Ix/Iy), and maximum slope of the terrain were independent covariates. The Mantel tests revealed spatial autocorrelation of the femoral index in H. sapiens but not in Neandertals. A generalized additive mixed model showed that sex, %CA, Ix/Iy, chronological period, and terrain significantly influenced variation in the robusticity indicator of H. sapiens femora. A linear mixed model revealed that none of the analyzed variables correlated with the femoral robusticity indicator of Neandertals. We did not confirm that the gradual decline in the femoral robusticity indicator of H. sapiens from the Middle Paleolithic to recent times is related to the type of lifestyle; however, it may be associated with lower levels of mechanical loading during adolescence. The lack of correlation between the analysed variables and the indicator of femoral robusticity in Neandertals may suggest that they needed a different level of mechanical stimulus to produce a morphological response in the long bone than H. sapiens.

RevDate: 2022-05-04
CmpDate: 2022-05-04

Urciuoli A, Kubat J, Schisanowski L, et al (2022)

Cochlear morphology of Indonesian Homo erectus from Sangiran.

Journal of human evolution, 165:103163.

Homo erectus s.l. is key for deciphering the origin and subsequent evolution of genus Homo. However, the characterization of this species is hindered by the existence of multiple variants in both mainland and insular Asia, as a result of divergent chronogeographical evolutionary trends, genetic isolation, and interbreeding with other human species. Previous research has shown that cochlear morphology embeds taxonomic and phylogenetic information that may help infer the phylogenetic relationships among hominin species. Here we describe the cochlear morphology of two Indonesian H. erectus individuals (Sangiran 2 and 4), and compare it with a sample of australopiths, Middle to Late Pleistocene humans, and extant humans by means of linear measurements and both principal components and canonical variates analyses performed on shape ratios. Our results indicate that H. erectus displays a mosaic morphology that combines plesiomorphic (australopithlike) features (such as a chimplike round cochlear cross section and low cochlear thickness), with derived characters of later humans (a voluminous and long cochlea, possibly related to hearing abilities)-consistent with the more basal position of H. erectus. Our results also denote substantial variation between the two studied individuals, particularly in the length and radius of the first turn, as well as cross-sectional shape. Given the small size of the available sample, it is not possible to discern whether such differences merely reflect intraspecific variation among roughly coeval H. erectus individuals or whether they might result from greater age differences between them than currently considered. However, our results demonstrate that most characters found in later humans were already present in Indonesian H. erectus, with the exception of Neanderthals, which display an autapomorphic condition relative to other Homo species.

RevDate: 2022-04-26
CmpDate: 2022-04-26

Moradmand M, M Yousefi (2022)

Ecological niche modelling and climate change in two species groups of huntsman spider genus Eusparassus in the Western Palearctic.

Scientific reports, 12(1):4138.

The huntsman spiders' genus Eusparassus are apex arthropod predators in desert ecosystems of the Afrotropical and Palearctic ecoregions. The Eusparassus dufouri and E. walckenaeri clades are two distinct taxonomic, phylogenetic, and geographic units concerning morphology, molecular phylogeny, and spatial data; but little is known about their ecological niche. We applied the maximum-entropy approach and modelled ecologic niches of these two phylogenetically closely related clades. Ecological niches of the two clades were compared using identity and background tests and two different metrics, the Schooner's D and Warren's I. We also predicted the impacts of climate change on the distribution of the two clades. The results of the identity test showed that the ecological niches of the two clades were different in geographic space but were similar in environmental space. While results of the background test revealed that the ecological niches of the two clades were similar in geographic and environmental space. This indicated that "niche conservatism" had an important role over the evolutionary time of allopatric diversification. However, the normalized difference vegetation index vs. topographic heterogeneity had influenced the niches of the dufouri and walckenaeri clades, respectively. The analyses recovered that the two clades' climatically suitable habitats will increase under future climate (the year 2070). However, since the two clades are characterized by the narrow range of environmental optimum and the accordingly high limits of tolerance, they are vulnerable to climate change.

RevDate: 2022-03-13

Picin A, Hajdinjak M, Nowaczewska W, et al (2022)

Author Correction: New perspectives on Neanderthal dispersal and turnover from Stajnia Cave (Poland).

Scientific reports, 12(1):4060 pii:10.1038/s41598-022-08141-z.

RevDate: 2022-04-18
CmpDate: 2022-04-15

Wang FG, Yang SX, Ge JY, et al (2022)

Innovative ochre processing and tool use in China 40,000 years ago.

Nature, 603(7900):284-289.

Homo sapiens was present in northern Asia by around 40,000 years ago, having replaced archaic populations across Eurasia after episodes of earlier population expansions and interbreeding1-4. Cultural adaptations of the last Neanderthals, the Denisovans and the incoming populations of H. sapiens into Asia remain unknown1,5-7. Here we describe Xiamabei, a well-preserved, approximately 40,000-year-old archaeological site in northern China, which includes the earliest known ochre-processing feature in east Asia, a distinctive miniaturized lithic assemblage with bladelet-like tools bearing traces of hafting, and a bone tool. The cultural assembly of traits at Xiamabei is unique for Eastern Asia and does not correspond with those found at other archaeological site assemblages inhabited by archaic populations or those generally associated with the expansion of H. sapiens, such as the Initial Upper Palaeolithic8-10. The record of northern Asia supports a process of technological innovations and cultural diversification emerging in a period of hominin hybridization and admixture2,3,6,11.

RevDate: 2022-02-28

Pfister D, Oechsle K, Schmidt S, et al (2022)

First-line salvage treatment options for germ cell tumor patients failing stage-adapted primary treatment : A comprehensive review compiled by the German Testicular Cancer Study Group.

World journal of urology [Epub ahead of print].

PURPOSE: In this review, we summarize and discuss contemporary treatment standards and possible selection criteria for decision making after failure of adjuvant or first-line cisplatin-based chemotherapy for primarily localized or metastatic germ cell tumors.

METHODS: This work is based on a systematic literature search conducted for the elaboration of the first German clinical practice guideline to identify prospective clinical trials and retrospective comparative studies published between Jan 2010 and Feb 2021. Study end points of interest were progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS), relapse rate (RR), and/or safety.

RESULTS: Relapses of clinical stage I (CS I) patients irrespective of prior adjuvant treatment after orchiectomy are treated stage adapted in accordance for primary metastatic patients. Surgical approaches for sole retroperitoneal relapses are investigated in ongoing clinical trials. The appropriate salvage chemotherapy for metastatic patients progressing or relapsing after first-line cisplatin-based chemotherapy is still a matter of controversy. Conventional cisplatin-based chemotherapy is the international guideline-endorsed standard of care, but based on retrospective data high-dose chemotherapy and subsequent autologous stem cell transplantation may offer a 10-15% survival benefit for all patients. Secondary complete surgical resection of all visible residual masses irrespective of size is paramount for treatment success.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients relapsing after definite treatment of locoregional disease are to be treated by stage-adapted first-line standard therapy for metastatic disease. Patients with primary advanced/metastatic disease failing one line of cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy should be referred to GCT expert centers. Dose intensity is a matter of ongoing debate, but sequential high-dose chemotherapy seems to improve patients' survival.

RevDate: 2022-03-16
CmpDate: 2022-03-16

Cerrito P, Nava A, Radovčić D, et al (2022)

Dental cementum virtual histology of Neanderthal teeth from Krapina (Croatia, 130-120 kyr): an informed estimate of age, sex and adult stressors.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 19(187):20210820.

The evolution of modern human reproductive scheduling is an aspect of our life history that remains vastly uncomprehended. The present work aims to address this gap by validating a non-destructive cutting-edge methodology to infer adult life-history events on modern teeth with known life history and then applying it to fossil specimens. We use phase-contrast synchrotron X-ray microtomography to visualize the dental cementum of 21 specimens: nine contemporary humans; 10 Neanderthals from Krapina (Croatia, 130-120 kyr); one Neolithic Homo sapiens from Ajmana (Serbia); and one Mesolithic H. sapiens from Vlasac (Serbia). We were able to correctly detect and time (root mean square error = 2.1 years; R2 = 0.98) all reproductive (menarche, parturition, menopause) and other physiologically impactful events in the modern sample. Nonetheless, we could not distinguish between the causes of the events detected. For the fossil specimens, we estimated age at death and age at occurrence of biologically significant events. Finally, we performed an exploratory analysis regarding possible sexual dimorphism in dental cementum microstructure, which allowed us to correctly infer the sex of the Neolithic specimen, for which the true value was known via DNA analysis.

RevDate: 2022-03-01
CmpDate: 2022-02-25

Lee HK, Knabl L, Knabl L, et al (2022)

Immune transcriptome analysis of COVID-19 patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying the E484K escape mutation identifies a distinct gene module.

Scientific reports, 12(1):2784.

Fast-spreading variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) energize the COVID-19 pandemic. While viral infections elicit a conserved immune response, it is not known whether SARS-CoV-2 variants, which display enhanced binding to the ACE2 receptor and reduced neutralizing activity by vaccine-elicited antibodies, prompt specific genomic immune responses. To test this, we generated and investigated the transcriptomes in BCs from hospitalized patients infected with either the Alpha variant (n = 36) or with the Alpha variant that had acquired the E484K escape mutation (Alpha+E484K) (n = 13). We identified a gene module preferentially activated in patients infected with the Alpha+E484K variant and in patients infected with the Beta (n = 9) and Gamma (n = 3) variants that also carry by the E484K escape mutation. The E484K signature was enriched for genes preferentially expressed in monocytes and linked to severe viral infection. However, both cohorts had undergone similar treatments and no differences in disease severity were reported suggesting that this signature reflects a variant response and does not necessarily associate with disease outcome. Additionally, longitudinal transcriptome analyses revealed a more persistent retention of immune signatures in Alpha+E484K patients throughout the entire course of COVID-19 disease and convalescence. While the OAS1 Neanderthal mutation has been linked to a milder COVID-19 pathology, we did not identify significant immune transcriptomes differences in the 25 patients homozygous for this mutation. Our study offers insights into distinct molecular immune responses elicited by SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying the E484K escape mutation throughout the COVID-19 disease.

RevDate: 2022-04-15
CmpDate: 2022-04-08

Grigorenko AP, Protasova MS, Lisenkova AA, et al (2022)

Neurodevelopmental Syndrome with Intellectual Disability, Speech Impairment, and Quadrupedia Is Associated with Glutamate Receptor Delta 2 Gene Defect.

Cells, 11(3):.

Bipedalism, speech, and intellect are the most prominent traits that emerged in the evolution of Homo sapiens. Here, we describe a novel genetic cause of an "involution" phenotype in four patients, who are characterized by quadrupedal locomotion, intellectual impairment, the absence of speech, small stature, and hirsutism, observed in a consanguineous Brazilian family. Using whole-genome sequencing analysis and homozygous genetic mapping, we identified genes bearing homozygous genetic variants and found a homozygous 36.2 kb deletion in the gene of glutamate receptor delta 2 (GRID2) in the patients, resulting in the lack of a coding region from the fifth to the seventh exons. The GRID2 gene is highly expressed in the cerebellum cortex from prenatal development to adulthood, specifically in Purkinje neurons. Deletion in this gene leads to the loss of the alpha chain in the extracellular amino-terminal protein domain (ATD), essential in protein folding and transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cell surface. Then, we studied the evolutionary trajectories of the GRID2 gene. There was no sign of strong selection of the highly conservative GRID2 gene in ancient hominids (Neanderthals and Denisovans) or modern humans; however, according to in silico tests using the Mfold tool, the GRID2 gene possibly gained human-specific mutations that increased the stability of GRID2 mRNA.

RevDate: 2022-05-03
CmpDate: 2022-04-14

Göllner T, Larena M, Kutanan W, et al (2022)

Unveiling the Genetic History of the Maniq, a Primary Hunter-Gatherer Society.

Genome biology and evolution, 14(4):.

The Maniq of southern Thailand is one of the last remaining practicing hunter-gatherer communities in the world. However, our knowledge on their genetic origins and demographic history is still largely limited. We present here the genotype data covering ∼2.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms of 11 unrelated Maniq individuals. Our analyses reveal the Maniq to be closely related to the Semang populations of Malaysia (Malay Negritos), who altogether carry an Andamanese-related ancestry linked to the ancient Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers of Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA). Moreover, the Maniq possess ∼35% East Asian-related ancestry, likely brought about by recent admixture with surrounding agriculturist communities in the region. In addition, the Maniq exhibit one of the highest levels of genetic differentiation found among living human populations, indicative of their small population size and historical practice of endogamy. Similar to other hunter-gatherer populations of MSEA, we also find the Maniq to possess low levels of Neanderthal ancestry and undetectable levels of Denisovan ancestry. Altogether, we reveal the Maniq to be a Semang group that experienced intense genetic drift and exhibits signs of ancient Hòabìnhian ancestry.

RevDate: 2022-02-14
CmpDate: 2022-02-14

Price M (2022)

A 10,000-year head start for modern humans in Europe?.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 375(6581):598-599.

Tooth and tools suggest moderns and Neanderthals took turns in French cave.

RevDate: 2022-02-25

Slimak L, Zanolli C, Higham T, et al (2022)

Modern human incursion into Neanderthal territories 54,000 years ago at Mandrin, France.

Science advances, 8(6):eabj9496.

Determining the extent of overlap between modern humans and other hominins in Eurasia, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, is fundamental to understanding the nature of their interactions and what led to the disappearance of archaic hominins. Apart from a possible sporadic pulse recorded in Greece during the Middle Pleistocene, the first settlements of modern humans in Europe have been constrained to ~45,000 to 43,000 years ago. Here, we report hominin fossils from Grotte Mandrin in France that reveal the earliest known presence of modern humans in Europe between 56,800 and 51,700 years ago. This early modern human incursion in the Rhône Valley is associated with technologies unknown in any industry of that age outside Africa or the Levant. Mandrin documents the first alternating occupation of Neanderthals and modern humans, with a modern human fossil and associated Neronian lithic industry found stratigraphically between layers containing Neanderthal remains associated with Mousterian industries.

RevDate: 2022-04-28
CmpDate: 2022-04-28

Liu W, Athreya S, Xing S, et al (2022)

Hominin evolution and diversity: a comparison of earlier-Middle and later-Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil variation in China.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 377(1847):20210040.

Historical views of Asia as an evolutionary 'backwater' are associated with the idea that Homo erectus experienced long periods of stasis and ultimately went extinct. However, recent discoveries of well-dated Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils in China have considerably challenged these ideas and provide sufficient data to propose a testable model that explains the patterning of variation in Middle Pleistocene China, and why it changed over time. A series of hominin fossil studies comparing earlier-Middle and later-Middle Pleistocene groups confirm that the expressions of certain traits shift around 300 ka. Fossils from the later Middle Pleistocene are more variable with a mix of archaic traits as well as ones that are common in Western Eurasian early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. The period around 300 ka appears to have been a critical turning point for later-Middle Pleistocene morphological changes in China. It coincides with a phase of climatic instability in the Northern Hemisphere between Marine Isotope Stages 12 and 10 that would have led to changes in gene flow patterning, and regional population survival/extinction. This localized and testable model can be used for future explorations of hominin evolution in later Pleistocene eastern Eurasia. This article is part of the theme issue 'The impact of Chinese palaeontology on evolutionary research'.

RevDate: 2022-02-15
CmpDate: 2022-02-15

Hallinan E, Barzilai O, Bicho N, et al (2022)

No direct evidence for the presence of Nubian Levallois technology and its association with Neanderthals at Shukbah Cave.

Scientific reports, 12(1):1204.

RevDate: 2022-02-15
CmpDate: 2022-02-15

Blinkhorn J, Zanolli C, Compton T, et al (2022)

Reply to: 'No direct evidence for the presence of Nubian Levallois technology and its association with Neanderthals at Shukbah Cave'.

Scientific reports, 12(1):1208.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Mihailović D, Kuhn SL, Bogićević K, et al (2022)

Connections between the Levant and the Balkans in the late Middle Pleistocene: Archaeological findings from Velika and Mala Balanica Caves (Serbia).

Journal of human evolution, 163:103138.

Major changes in the technological, economic, and social behavior of Middle Pleistocene hominins occurred at the onset of the Middle Paleolithic, 400-200 ka. However, until recently it was not possible to establish when, where, and how certain forms of Middle Paleolithic behavior appeared and spread into Southeastern Europe, mainly owing to gaps in the Paleolithic record. Here we report new results of dating, material culture, and the archaeological context of finds from the Balanica Cave Complex in Sićevo (Serbia). Two methods-thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance-were used to date the sequence. The geoarchaeological context was examined through sedimentology, micromorphology, and spatial analysis. Microfaunal remains were used to constrain the dates within an ecological zone, whereas macrofauna was analyzed for taxonomy and taphonomy to examine the source of accumulation and hominin behavior. Technological and typological features of the lithic assemblage were used to characterize lithic production at the site. Materials recovered from Layer 3 in Velika Balanica and from Layer 2 in Mala Balanica, both dated to MIS 9-7, include a distinctive set of archaeological assemblages which resemble contemporaneous Yabrudian assemblages from the Levant in important ways, and which are unlike contemporary material from the surrounding regions. In Velika Balanica, the lithic assemblages are associated with a large fireplace containing evidence of human activities similar to those from Qesem Cave (Israel). Dental remains uncovered in the same layer are consistent with Neanderthals. These findings suggest that the end of the Middle Pleistocene (before 300-240 ka) saw population movement and/or cultural transmission between Southwest Asia and the Balkans, which led eventually to a transfer of technology between Middle Eastern and European hominin populations and contributed to the shaping of Neanderthal behaviors throughout the eastern and northern Mediterranean.

RevDate: 2022-01-17

Busch J, Schmidt S, Albers P, et al (2022)

Can magnetic resonance imaging replace conventional computerized tomography for follow-up of patients with testicular cancer? A systematic review.

World journal of urology [Epub ahead of print].

PURPOSE: Follow-up protocols for patients with testicular cancer (TC) have significantly reduced the number of cross-sectional imaging studies to reduce radiation exposure. At present, it is unclear whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could replace conventional computerized tomography (CT) imaging. The objective of this study is to summarize the scientific evidence on this topic and to review guideline recommendations with regard to the use of MRI.

METHODS: A systematic literature review was performed searching Medline and Cochrane databases for prospective studies on patients with TC in the follow-up care (last search in February 2021). Additionally, guideline recommendations for TC were screened. Data extraction and quality assessment of included studies were performed and used for a descriptive presentation of results.

RESULTS: A total of four studies including two ongoing trials were identified. Overall, the scientific evidence of prospective comparative studies is based on 102 patients. Data suggest that abdominal imaging with MRI can replace conventional CT for detection of lymph node metastasis of the retroperitoneum to spare radiation exposure and contrast media application. However, experienced radiologists are needed. Clinical guidelines are aware of the risk of diagnosis-induced secondary malignancy due to CT imaging and some have adapted their recommendations accordingly. Results of the two ongoing trials on 738 patients are expected soon to provide more reliable results on this topic.

CONCLUSIONS: There is growing evidence that abdominopelvic MRI imaging can replace CT imaging during follow-up of patients with TC in order to reduce radiation exposure and diagnosis-induced secondary malignancy.

RevDate: 2022-04-18
CmpDate: 2022-02-24

Huffman JE, Butler-Laporte G, Khan A, et al (2022)

Multi-ancestry fine mapping implicates OAS1 splicing in risk of severe COVID-19.

Nature genetics, 54(2):125-127.

The OAS1/2/3 cluster has been identified as a risk locus for severe COVID-19 among individuals of European ancestry, with a protective haplotype of approximately 75 kilobases (kb) derived from Neanderthals in the chromosomal region 12q24.13. This haplotype contains a splice variant of OAS1, which occurs in people of African ancestry independently of gene flow from Neanderthals. Using trans-ancestry fine-mapping approaches in 20,779 hospitalized cases, we demonstrate that this splice variant is likely to be the SNP responsible for the association at this locus, thus strongly implicating OAS1 as an effector gene influencing COVID-19 severity.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Wu XJ, Bae CJ, Friess M, et al (2022)

Evolution of cranial capacity revisited: A view from the late Middle Pleistocene cranium from Xujiayao, China.

Journal of human evolution, 163:103119.

The Late Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils from the Xujiayao site in northern China have been closely studied in light of their morphological variability. However, all previous studies have focused on separated cranial fragments. Here, we report the first reconstruction of a fairly complete posterior cranium, Xujiayao 6 (XJY 6), confidently dated to ∼200-160 ka, which facilitated an assessment of its overall cranial size. XJY 6 was reconstructed from three of the original fragments-the PA1486 (No.7/XJY 6a) occipital bone, PA1490 (No.10/XJY 6b) right parietal bone, and PA1498 (No.17/XJY 15) left temporal bone-which originated from the same young adult individual. The XJY 6 endocranial capacity, estimated by measuring endocranial volume, was estimated using multiple regression formulae derived from ectocranial and endocranial measurements on select samples of Pleistocene hominins and recent modern humans. The results indicate that the larger pooled sample of both Pleistocene and recent modern humans was more robust for the endocranial capacity estimate. Based on the pooled sample using the ectocranial and endocranial measurements, we conservatively estimate the XJY 6 endocranial volume to be ∼1700 cm3 with a 95% confidence interval of 1555-1781 cm3. This is close to Xuchang 1, which dates to 125-105 ka and whose endocranial volume is ∼1800 cm3. Thus, XJY 6 provides the earliest evidence of a brain size that falls in the upper range of Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens. XJY 6, together with Xuchang 1, Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonensis, and Homo naledi, challenge the general pattern that brain size gradually increases over geological time. This study also finds that hominin brain size expansion occurred at different rates across time and space.

RevDate: 2022-02-10
CmpDate: 2022-02-10

Koch TJ, P Schmidt (2022)

A new method for birch tar making with materials available in the Stone Age.

Scientific reports, 12(1):413.

The use of birch tar can be traced back to the European Middle Palaeolithic and is relevant for our understanding of the technical skills and cognitive abilities of Neanderthals. Due to the lack of archaeological evidence, it remains unknown what techniques were used for birch tar making. Efficiency was recently used as a proxy to determine the method most likely used in the Middle Palaeolithic. Todtenhaupt et al. have proposed a technique employing a groove-like structure that is comparable with the recently presented condensation method. The groove method resulted in higher tar yields compared to other experimental aceramic production processes. However, the implications for Palaeolithic tar making remain unclear because some of the materials used in the experiment were not available then (polished granite slabs). To approach this problem, we replicated the groove with river cobbles and, in a second experiment with flint fragments, to evaluate whether similar results can be obtained. We were successful in producing birch tar in multiple runs with the cobble- and flint-grooves, which, in addition, proved to be more efficient than the condensation method in terms of tar yield per bark input. Our experimental study provides an additional possibility to make prehistoric birch tar.

RevDate: 2022-03-10
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Zanolli C, Kaifu Y, Pan L, et al (2022)

Further analyses of the structural organization of Homo luzonensis teeth: Evolutionary implications.

Journal of human evolution, 163:103124.

The species Homo luzonensis has recently been described based on a set of dental and postcranial elements found at Callao Cave (Northern Luzon, Philippines) and dated to at least 50-67 ka. Seven postcanine maxillary teeth are attributed to this taxon, five of them belonging to the same individual (CCH6) and representing the holotype of H. luzonensis, whereas the isolated upper premolar CCH8 and the upper third molar CCH9 are paratypes of the species. The teeth are characterized by their small dimensions associated with primitive features, as also found in Homo floresiensis, another hominin having evolved in an insular environment of Southeast Asia. Postcranial bones of the hands and feet of H. luzonensis and H. floresiensis show Homo habilis-like or australopith-like features, whereas cranial and dental morphology are more consistent with the Asian Homo erectus morphology. Due to this mosaic morphology, the origin and phylogenetic relationships of both H. luzonensis and H. floresiensis are still debated. To test the hypotheses that H. luzonensis derives from H. erectus or from an earlier small-brained hominin, we analyzed the µCT scans of the teeth. We investigated both external and internal tooth structure using morphometric methods including: crown outline shape, tooth crown tissue proportions, enamel-dentine junction shape, and pulp morphology. Homo luzonensis external crown morphology aligns more with H. erectus than with H. habilis/H. rudolfensis. The internal structural organization of H. luzonensis teeth exhibits more affinities with that of H. erectus and H. floresiensis than with Neanderthals and modern humans. Our results suggest that both H. floresiensis and H. luzonensis likely evolved from some H. erectus groups that dispersed in the various islands of this region and became isolated until endemic speciation events occurred at least twice during the Pleistocene in insular environments.

RevDate: 2022-03-02

Coppo L, Mishra P, Siefert N, et al (2022)

A substitution in the glutathione reductase lowers electron leakage and inflammation in modern humans.

Science advances, 8(1):eabm1148.

Glutathione reductase is a critical enzyme for preventing oxidative stress and maintaining a reduced intracellular environment. Almost all present-day humans carry an amino acid substitution (S232G) in this enzyme relative to apes and Neanderthals. We express the modern human and the ancestral enzymes and show that whereas the activity and stability are unaffected by the amino acid substitution, the ancestral enzyme produces more reactive oxygen species and increases cellular levels of transcripts encoding cytokines. We furthermore show that the ancestral enzyme has been reintroduced into the modern human gene pool by gene flow from Neanderthals and is associated with multiple traits in present-day people, including increased susceptibility for inflammatory-associated disorders and vascular disease.

RevDate: 2022-02-21
CmpDate: 2022-02-21

Massilani D, Morley MW, Mentzer SM, et al (2022)

Microstratigraphic preservation of ancient faunal and hominin DNA in Pleistocene cave sediments.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(1):.

Ancient DNA recovered from Pleistocene sediments represents a rich resource for the study of past hominin and environmental diversity. However, little is known about how DNA is preserved in sediments and the extent to which it may be translocated between archaeological strata. Here, we investigate DNA preservation in 47 blocks of resin-impregnated archaeological sediment collected over the last four decades for micromorphological analyses at 13 prehistoric sites in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America and show that such blocks can preserve DNA of hominins and other mammals. Extensive microsampling of sediment blocks from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains reveals that the taxonomic composition of mammalian DNA differs drastically at the millimeter-scale and that DNA is concentrated in small particles, especially in fragments of bone and feces (coprolites), suggesting that these are substantial sources of DNA in sediments. Three microsamples taken in close proximity in one of the blocks yielded Neanderthal DNA from at least two male individuals closely related to Denisova 5, a Neanderthal toe bone previously recovered from the same layer. Our work indicates that DNA can remain stably localized in sediments over time and provides a means of linking genetic information to the archaeological and ecological records on a microstratigraphic scale.

RevDate: 2021-12-28

Durand S, Dufour J, Rosas A, et al (2021)

Three-Dimensional Comparative Study of Human Bipartite Scaphoids and the Os Centrale of the Wrist in Neandertals and Non-Human Anthropoid Primates.

Diagnostics (Basel, Switzerland), 11(12):.

In humans, bipartite scaphoid still does not differentiate clearly from traumatic non-union of the scaphoid. To aid diagnosis, we sought to analyze the main geometrical similarities among bipartite scaphoids from primate species with fused and unfused scaphoid centrales. Four human embryos, four cases of adult humans with bipartite scaphoid, twelve adult specimens of other extant anthropoid primates, and two Neandertal scaphoid specimens were included in this study. Three-dimensional polygon models of the scaphoid and os centrale were generated from CT scan, micro-CT scan, or histological sections. A 3D comparative study of the morphological and morphometrical parameters was performed using the MSC Patran software. The os centrale was smaller than the scaphoid in all specimens and its shape was elongated in the anteroposterior scaphoid direction. The position of the os centrale centroid compared to the scaphoid using direction vectors had a strong orientation along the proximodistal axis in all species. The main morphological feature of bipartite scaphoid was the continuity of the scaphoid from its proximal pole to its tubercule along the anteroposterior axis. In all specimens, if the os centrale was removed, the scaphoid still appeared normal and whole. The bipartite scaphoid in adult humans shares geometrical analogies with monkeys and orangutans, human embryos, and Neandertals. Morphological and morphometrical features identified in this study are useful to differentiate bipartite scaphoid from scaphoid pseudarthrosis. All other criteria suggested in the past lead to misdiagnosis.

RevDate: 2022-01-24
CmpDate: 2022-01-24

Zhur KV, Trifonov VA, EB Prokhortchouk (2021)

Progress and Prospects in Epigenetic Studies of Ancient DNA.

Biochemistry. Biokhimiia, 86(12):1563-1571.

Development of technologies for high-throughput whole-genome sequencing and improvement of sample preparation techniques made it possible to study ancient DNA (aDNA) from archaeological samples over a million year old. The studies of aDNA have shed light on the history of human migration, replacement of populations, interbreeding of Cro-Magnons with Neanderthals and Denisovans, evolution of human pathogens, etc. Equally important is the possibility to investigate epigenetic modifications of ancient genomes, which has allowed to obtain previously inaccessible information on gene expression, nucleosome positioning, and DNA methylation. Analysis of methylation status of certain genomic sites can predict an individual's age at death and reconstruct some phenotypic features, as it was done for the Denisovan genome, and even to elucidate unfavorable environmental factors that had affected this archaic individual. In this review, we discuss current progress in epigenetic studies of aDNA, including methodological approaches and promising research directions in this field.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Hardy K, Bocherens H, Miller JB, et al (2022)

Reconstructing Neanderthal diet: The case for carbohydrates.

Journal of human evolution, 162:103105.

Evidence for plants rarely survives on Paleolithic sites, while animal bones and biomolecular analyses suggest animal produce was important to hominin populations, leading to the perspective that Neanderthals had a very-high-protein diet. But although individual and short-term survival is possible on a relatively low-carbohydrate diet, populations are unlikely to have thrived and reproduced without plants and the carbohydrates they provide. Today, nutritional guidelines recommend that around half the diet should be carbohydrate, while low intake is considered to compromise physical performance and successful reproduction. This is likely to have been the same for Paleolithic populations, highlighting an anomaly in that the basic physiological recommendations do not match the extensive archaeological evidence. Neanderthals had large, energy-expensive brains and led physically active lifestyles, suggesting that for optimal health they would have required high amounts of carbohydrates. To address this anomaly, we begin by outlining the essential role of carbohydrates in the human reproduction cycle and the brain and the effects on physical performance. We then evaluate the evidence for resource availability and the archaeological evidence for Neanderthal diet and investigate three ways that the anomaly between the archaeological evidence and the hypothetical dietary requirements might be explained. First, Neanderthals may have had an as yet unidentified genetic adaptation to an alternative physiological method to spare blood glucose and glycogen reserves for essential purposes. Second, they may have existed on a less-than-optimum diet and survived rather than thrived. Third, the methods used in dietary reconstruction could mask a complex combination of dietary plant and animal proportions. We end by proposing that analyses of Paleolithic diet and subsistence strategies need to be grounded in the minimum recommendations throughout the life course and that this provides a context for interpretation of the archaeological evidence from the behavioral and environmental perspectives.

RevDate: 2022-02-14
CmpDate: 2022-02-14

Natri HM, Hudjashov G, Jacobs G, et al (2022)

Genetic architecture of gene regulation in Indonesian populations identifies QTLs associated with global and local ancestries.

American journal of human genetics, 109(1):50-65.

Lack of diversity in human genomics limits our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of complex traits, hinders precision medicine, and contributes to health disparities. To map genetic effects on gene regulation in the underrepresented Indonesian population, we have integrated genotype, gene expression, and CpG methylation data from 115 participants across three island populations that capture the major sources of genomic diversity in the region. In a comparison with European datasets, we identify eQTLs shared between Indonesia and Europe as well as population-specific eQTLs that exhibit differences in allele frequencies and/or overall expression levels between populations. By combining local ancestry and archaic introgression inference with eQTLs and methylQTLs, we identify regulatory loci driven by modern Papuan ancestry as well as introgressed Denisovan and Neanderthal variation. GWAS colocalization connects QTLs detected here to hematological traits, and further comparison with European datasets reflects the poor overall transferability of GWAS statistics across diverse populations. Our findings illustrate how population-specific genetic architecture, local ancestry, and archaic introgression drive variation in gene regulation across genetically distinct and in admixed populations and highlight the need for performing association studies on non-European populations.

RevDate: 2022-03-28
CmpDate: 2022-03-28

Williams MJ (2022)

The term "psychosis" is archaic.

Schizophrenia research, 240:31.

RevDate: 2022-01-19
CmpDate: 2022-01-19

Hayakawa T, Terahara M, Fujito NT, et al (2021)

Lower promoter activity of the ST8SIA2 gene has been favored in evolving human collective brains.

PloS one, 16(12):e0259897.

ST8SIA2 is an important molecule regulating expression of the phenotype involved in schizophrenia. Lowered promoter activity of the ST8SIA2 gene is considered to be protective against schizophrenia by conferring tolerance to psychosocial stress. Here, we examined the promoter-type composition of anatomically modern humans (AMHs) and archaic humans (AHs; Neanderthals and Denisovans), and compared the promoter activity at the population level (population promoter activity; PPA) between them. In AMHs, the TCT-type, showing the second lowest promoter activity, was most prevalent in the ancestral population of non-Africans. However, the detection of only the CGT-type from AH samples and recombination tracts in AH sequences showed that the CGT- and TGT-types, exhibiting the two highest promoter activities, were common in AH populations. Furthermore, interspecies gene flow occurred into AMHs from AHs and into Denisovans from Neanderthals, influencing promoter-type compositions independently in both AMHs and AHs. The difference of promoter-type composition makes PPA unique in each population. East and Southeast Asian populations show the lowest PPA. This results from the selective increase of the CGC-type, showing the lowest promoter activity, in these populations. Every non-African population shows significantly lower PPA than African populations, resulting from the TCT-type having the highest prevalence in the ancestral population of non-Africans. In addition, PPA reduction is also found among subpopulations within Africa via a slight increase of the TCT-type. These findings indicate a trend toward lower PPA in the spread of AMHs, interpreted as a continuous adaptation to psychosocial stress arising in migration. This trend is considered as genetic tuning for the evolution of collective brains. The inferred promoter-type composition of AHs differed markedly from that of AMHs, resulting in higher PPA in AHs than in AMHs. This suggests that the trend toward lower PPA is a unique feature in AMH spread.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2021-12-27

Hubacek JA (2021)

Effects of selected inherited factors on susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 progression.

Physiological research, 70(S2):S125-S134.

Genetic predispositions may influence geographical and interethnic differences in COVID-19 prevalence and mortality in affected populations. Of the many genes implicated in COVID-19 progression, a substantial number have no direct functional link on virus transfer/viability or on the host immune system. To address this knowledge deficit, a large number of in silico studies have recently been published. However, the results of these studies often contradict the findings of studies involving real patients. For example, the ACE2 has been shown to play an important role in regulating coronavirus entry into cells, but none of its variations have been directly associated with COVID-19 susceptibility or severity. Consistently was reported that increased risk of COVID-19 is associated with blood group A and with the APOE4 allele. Among other genes with potential impacts are the genes for CCR5, IL-10, CD14, TMPRSS2 and angiotensin-converting enzyme. Variants within the protein-coding genes OAS1 and LZTFL1 (transferred to the human genome from Neanderthals) are understood to be among the strongest predictors of disease severity. The intensive research efforts have helped to identify the genes and polymorphisms that contribute to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity.

RevDate: 2022-03-02

Roebroeks W, MacDonald K, Scherjon F, et al (2021)

Landscape modification by Last Interglacial Neanderthals.

Science advances, 7(51):eabj5567.

Little is known about the antiquity, nature, and scale of Pleistocene hunter-gatherer impact on their ecosystems, despite the importance for studies of conservation and human evolution. Such impact is likely to be limited, mainly because of low population densities, and challenging to detect and interpret in terms of cause-effect dynamics. We present high-resolution paleoenvironmental and archaeological data from the Last Interglacial locality of Neumark-Nord (Germany). Among the factors that shaped vegetation structure and succession in this lake landscape, we identify a distinct ecological footprint of hominin activities, including fire use. We compare these data with evidence from archaeological and baseline sites from the same region. At Neumark-Nord, notably open vegetation coincides with a virtually continuous c. 2000-year-long hominin presence, and the comparative data strongly suggest that hominins were a contributing factor. With an age of c. 125,000 years, Neumark-Nord provides an early example of a hominin role in vegetation transformation.

RevDate: 2021-12-13

Decaup PH, Couture C, Colin M, et al (2021)

Prevalence of taurodontism: meta-analysis in recent humans and evolutionary perspectives.

Homo : internationale Zeitschrift fur die vergleichende Forschung am Menschen [Epub ahead of print].

Taurodontism is a continuous anatomical variation of permanent and primary posterior teeth represented by an enlargement of the pulp cavity. A high prevalence of the trait is reported in Homo neanderthalensis remains. Exploring and refining epidemiology of taurodontism in actual populations could strengthen the hypothesis of a selective advantage for a high attrition diet (as heavy tooth wear in Homo sapiens evolution changed little until recently) or favour pleiotropic or genetic drift effects to explain the high frequency of the trait in Neandertal remains. Prevalence ranges between 0.1% and 48% in the literature. The aim of the present study is to assess the prevalence of taurodontism in recent populations by means of meta-analysis, that is, is the prevalence of taurodontism lower or higher in modern human living populations, where the selective advantages of high attrition diet are still expected? From 90 potentially eligible studies, 15 were included in the meta-analysis. Only cross-sectional studies were reported, and 14,771 participants were included. The meta-analyses were performed with a random model, calculating a weighted-mean prevalence of 11.8%. Gender was found to be unrelated to the prevalence of taurodontism (OR = 0.84 (95% CI 0.67-1.05), p > 0.05). Taurodontism occurs in approximately 11.8% of the living population. This result questions the status of taurodontism as a "typical trait" in Homo neanderthalensis and allows a possible common evolutionary mechanism in Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis for the trait. Further studies should include more accurate and standardized methods to assess the condition.

RevDate: 2021-12-06

Bermúdez de Castro JM, Martínez de Pinillos M, Martín-Francés L, et al (2021)

Dental remains of the Middle Pleistocene hominins from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain): Maxillary dentition.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

The Middle Pleistocene site of the Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Spain) has yielded a considerable number of human fossils during the period 1984-2020. Among them, up to 253 maxillary teeth have been recovered. In this article, we present the description of the eight dental classes of the maxilla following the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System classification. In addition, we present the mean mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters of these teeth compared to those of Neanderthals and a modern human sample. The morphology of both the anterior and posterior teeth suggests a close relationship of the Sima de los Huesos hominins with the populations of the second half of the Middle Pleistocene of Europe and the Near East, as well as with the so-called classic Neanderthals of Europe. Features with a recognizable taxonomic signal allow grouping the Sima de los Huesos hominins with different paleodemes into a Neanderthal clade. The dental evidence of the Sima de los Huesos hominins is key to suggest a complex model for the settlement of Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. During this period, different migrations of human groups probably coming from Southwest Asia, replacements, prolonged isolations, as well as hybridization and introgression processes would have contributed to the diversity of hominins in Europe.

RevDate: 2022-03-02
CmpDate: 2021-12-17

Marom A, Y Rak (2021)

Comment on "A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6572):eabl4336.

Hershkovitz et al. (Reports, 25 June 2021, p. 1424) conclude that the Nesher Ramla (NR) fossils represent a distinctive Homo paleodeme that played a role as a source population for Neanderthals. However, the highly diagnostic features of the Neanderthal mandible—clearly displayed by the NR fossils—are largely overlooked. Our analyses indicate that the NR fossils represent simply a Neanderthal.

RevDate: 2022-03-02
CmpDate: 2021-12-07

May H, Sarig R, Pokhojaev A, et al (2021)

Response to Comment on "A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel".

Science (New York, N.Y.), 374(6572):eabl5789.

Marom and Rak claim, on the basis of a few mandibular features, that the Nesher Ramla (NR) Homo is a Neanderthal. Their comments lack substance and contribute little to the debate surrounding the evolution of Middle Pleistocene Homo. Limitations and preconceptions in their study prevented them from achieving resolution beyond a dichotomous interpretation of the NR as either a Neanderthal or a modern human.

RevDate: 2021-12-01

Bermúdez de Castro JM, Martínez de Pinillos M, Martín-Francés L, et al (2021)

Dental remains of the Middle Pleistocene hominins from the Sima de los Huesos site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain): Mandibular dentition.

Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007) [Epub ahead of print].

The Middle Pleistocene site of the Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Spain) has yielded a considerable number of human fossils during the period 1984-2020. Among them, up to 314 mandibular teeth have been identified. In this second paper dedicated to the dentition we present the description of the eight dental classes of the mandible following the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System (ASUDAS) classification. In addition, we show the mean mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters obtained in these teeth compared to those of Neanderthals and a modern human sample. The morphology of both the anterior and posterior teeth suggests a close relationship of the Sima de los Huesos hominins with the populations of the second half of the Middle Pleistocene of Europe and the Near East, as well as with the so-called classic Neanderthals of Europe. The combination of dental traits in these populations is characteristic and diagnostic and suggests grouping the Sima de los Huesos hominins with the other paleodemes in a Neanderthal clade. The dental evidence of the Sima de los Huesos hominins is key to propose a complex model for the settlement of Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. In this period, different migrations of human groups probably coming from Southwest Asia, replacements, prolonged isolations, as well as hybridization and introgression processes would have contributed to the diversity of hominins in Europe.

RevDate: 2022-03-09
CmpDate: 2022-03-09

Bahain JJ, Mercier N, Valladas H, et al (2022)

Reappraisal of the chronology of Orgnac 3 Lower-to-Middle Paleolithic site (Ardèche, France), a regional key sequence for the Middle Pleistocene of southern France.

Journal of human evolution, 162:103092.

Previous studies have suggested that the Lower-to-Middle Paleolithic transition was associated with the earliest Neanderthals, but recent research has established that the oldest Neanderthal fossils and the first signs of their technologies and behavior appear from MIS 11 or possibly earlier. To understand these changes, re-evaluation of the evidence is necessary to determine if this transition corresponds to a progressive evolution rather than abrupt change. Orgnac 3 is a key and appropriate site to study this research context. Located in southern France, it yields a long stratigraphic sequence testifying the evolution of technical and subsistence behaviors of pre-Neanderthal human groups during a Middle Pleistocene interglacial-glacial cycle. In this article, a new chronological framework is provided for the sequence based on results of dating methods applied to various types of geological materials. Speleothems and volcanic minerals, dated in previous studies by U-series and 40Ar/39Ar, respectively, show periods of calcitic crystallization and regional volcanic activity. Other materials, such as heated flints and herbivore teeth, are directly related to evidence of anthropogenic activities and are analyzed in the present work by trapped-charge dating methods such as thermoluminescence and electron spin resonance combined with uranium series (ESR/U-series). The new thermoluminescence and ESR/U-series dates confirm the attribution of the Orgnac 3 stratigraphic sequence to the MIS 10-MIS 8 period and are discussed in relation to paleoenvironmental data derived from bioarchaeological studies. The paleoanthropological levels, including the emergence of Levallois technology, are dated to ca. 275 ka (early MIS 8) and appear coeval to a wet and temperate period recorded locally, the Amargiers interstadial, defined in the regional palynological records. The implications of this reassessed chronology for the archaeological assemblages are discussed in the wider context of behavioral innovations from MIS 11 onward and their establishment in subsequent periods.

RevDate: 2022-04-18
CmpDate: 2022-03-16

Brown S, Massilani D, Kozlikin MB, et al (2022)

The earliest Denisovans and their cultural adaptation.

Nature ecology & evolution, 6(1):28-35.

Since the initial identification of the Denisovans a decade ago, only a handful of their physical remains have been discovered. Here we analysed ~3,800 non-diagnostic bone fragments using collagen peptide mass fingerprinting to locate new hominin remains from Denisova Cave (Siberia, Russia). We identified five new hominin bones, four of which contained sufficient DNA for mitochondrial analysis. Three carry mitochondrial DNA of the Denisovan type and one was found to carry mtDNA of the Neanderthal type. The former come from the same archaeological layer near the base of the cave's sequence and are the oldest securely dated evidence of Denisovans at 200 ka (thousand years ago) (205-192 ka at 68.2% or 217-187 ka at 95% probability). The stratigraphic context in which they were located contains a wealth of archaeological material in the form of lithics and faunal remains, allowing us to determine the material culture associated with these early hominins and explore their behavioural and environmental adaptations. The combination of bone collagen fingerprinting and genetic analyses has so far more-than-doubled the number of hominin bones at Denisova Cave and has expanded our understanding of Denisovan and Neanderthal interactions, as well as their archaeological signatures.

RevDate: 2021-11-26
CmpDate: 2021-11-26

Dhakal B, Makaju R, R Dhakal R (2021)

The Risk of COVID-19 in People Having a Particular Set of Gene.

Kathmandu University medical journal (KUMJ), 19(74):265-267.

These risk factors of advancing age, male gender and co-existing health conditions like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity do not fully explain why some people have no or mild symptoms whereas others have severe symptoms. Genomewide association study (GWAS) identify a 3p21.31 gene cluster as a genetic susceptibility locus in patients with COVID-19 with respiratory failure. They also found a higher risk among persons with blood group A and protective effect for blood group O than among patients with other blood groups. The particular haplotype in a region of chromosome 3 is contributed to modern humans by neandertals. Another Neanderthal haplotype on chromosome 12 is associated with a 22% reduction in relative risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. The ApoE e4e4 homozygous genotype was found to increase the risk of severe COVID-19. Change in angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) 2 gene was also found to be associated with increased risk of COVID-19, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions.

RevDate: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

Mahoney P, McFarlane G, Smith BH, et al (2021)

Growth of Neanderthal infants from Krapina (120-130 ka), Croatia.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 288(1963):20212079.

Modern humans have a slow and extended period of childhood growth, but to what extent this ontogenetic pathway was present in Neanderthals is debated. Dental development, linked to the duration of somatic growth across modern primates, is the main source for information about growth and development in a variety of fossil primates, including humans. Studies of Neanderthal permanent teeth report a pace of development either similar to recent humans or relatively accelerated. Neanderthal milk teeth, which form and emerge before permanent teeth, provide an opportunity to determine which pattern was present at birth. Here we present a comparative study of the prenatal and early postnatal growth of five milk teeth from three Neanderthals (120 000-130 000 years ago) using virtual histology. Results reveal regions of their milk teeth formed quickly before birth and over a relatively short period of time after birth. Tooth emergence commenced towards the earliest end of the eruption schedules displayed by extant human children. Advanced dental development is consistent with expectations for Neanderthal infant feeding.

RevDate: 2022-04-14
CmpDate: 2021-12-29

Liston A, Humblet-Baron S, Duffy D, et al (2021)

Human immune diversity: from evolution to modernity.

Nature immunology, 22(12):1479-1489.

The extreme diversity of the human immune system, forged and maintained throughout evolutionary history, provides a potent defense against opportunistic pathogens. At the same time, this immune variation is the substrate upon which a plethora of immune-associated diseases develop. Genetic analysis suggests that thousands of individually weak loci together drive up to half of the observed immune variation. Intense selection maintains this genetic diversity, even selecting for the introgressed Neanderthal or Denisovan alleles that have reintroduced variation lost during the out-of-Africa migration. Variations in age, sex, diet, environmental exposure, and microbiome each potentially explain the residual variation, with proof-of-concept studies demonstrating both plausible mechanisms and correlative associations. The confounding interaction of many of these variables currently makes it difficult to assign definitive contributions. Here, we review the current state of play in the field, identify the key unknowns in the causality of immune variation, and identify the multidisciplinary pathways toward an improved understanding.

RevDate: 2021-11-15

Heinzelbecker J, Schmidt S, Lackner J, et al (2021)

Therapy of clinical stage IIA and IIB seminoma: a systematic review.

World journal of urology [Epub ahead of print].

PURPOSE: The optimal treatment for clinical stage (CS) IIA/IIB seminomas is still controversial. We evaluated current treatment options.

METHODS: A systematic review was performed. Only randomized clinical trials and comparative studies published from January 2010 until February 2021 were included. Search items included: seminoma, CS IIA, CS IIB and therapy. Outcome parameters were relapse rate (RR), relapse-free (RFS), overall and cancer-specific survival (OS, CSS). Additionally, acute and long-term side effects including secondary malignancies (SMs) were analyzed.

RESULTS: Seven comparative studies (one prospective and six retrospective) were identified with a total of 5049 patients (CS IIA: 2840, CS IIB: 2209). The applied treatment modalities were radiotherapy (RT) (n = 3049; CS IIA: 1888, CSIIB: 1006, unknown: 155) and chemotherapy (CT) or no RT (n = 2000; CS IIA: 797, CS IIB: 1074, unknown: 129). In CS IIA, RRs ranged from 0% to 4.8% for RT and 0% for CT. Concerning CS IIB RRs of 9.5%-21.1% for RT and of 0%-14.2% for CT have been reported. 5-year OS ranged from 90 to 100%. Only two studies reported on treatment-related toxicities.

CONCLUSIONS: RT and CT are the most commonly applied treatments in CS IIA/B seminoma. In CS IIA seminomas, RRs after RT and CT are similar. However, in CS IIB, CT seems to be more effective. Survival rates of CS IIA/B seminomas are excellent. Consequently, long-term toxicities and SMs are important survivorship issues. Alternative treatment approaches, e.g., retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) or dose-reduced sequential CT/RT are currently under prospective investigation.

RevDate: 2021-12-24
CmpDate: 2021-12-24

Sorrentino R, Stephens NB, Marchi D, et al (2021)

Unique foot posture in Neanderthals reflects their body mass and high mechanical stress.

Journal of human evolution, 161:103093.

Neanderthal foot bone proportions and morphology are mostly indistinguishable from those of Homo sapiens, with the exception of several distinct Neanderthal features in the talus. The biomechanical implications of these distinct talar features remain contentious, fueling debate around the adaptive meaning of this distinctiveness. With the aim of clarifying this controversy, we test phylogenetic and behavioral factors as possible contributors, comparing tali of 10 Neanderthals and 81 H. sapiens (Upper Paleolithic and Holocene hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists, and postindustrial group) along with the Clark Howell talus (Omo, Ethiopia). Variation in external talar structures was assessed through geometric morphometric methods, while bone volume fraction and degree of anisotropy were quantified in a subsample (n = 45). Finally, covariation between point clouds of site-specific trabecular variables and surface landmark coordinates was assessed. Our results show that although Neanderthal talar external and internal morphologies were distinct from those of H. sapiens groups, shape did not significantly covary with either bone volume fraction or degree of anisotropy, suggesting limited covariation between external and internal talar structures. Neanderthal external talar morphology reflects ancestral retentions, along with various adaptations to high levels of mobility correlated to their presumably unshod hunter-gatherer lifestyle. This pairs with their high site-specific trabecular bone volume fraction and anisotropy, suggesting intense and consistently oriented locomotor loading, respectively. Relative to H.sapiens, Neanderthals exhibit differences in the talocrural joint that are potentially attributable to cultural and locomotor behavior dissimilarity, a talonavicular joint that mixes ancestral and functional traits, and a derived subtalar joint that suggests a predisposition for a pronated foot during stance phase. Overall, Neanderthal talar variation is attributable to mobility strategy and phylogenesis, while H. sapiens talar variation results from the same factors plus footwear. Our results suggest that greater Neanderthal body mass and/or higher mechanical stress uniquely led to their habitually pronated foot posture.

RevDate: 2022-01-21
CmpDate: 2022-01-21

Di Pietro L, Barba M, Palacios D, et al (2021)

Shaping modern human skull through epigenetic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of the RUNX2 master bone gene.

Scientific reports, 11(1):21316.

RUNX2 encodes the master bone transcription factor driving skeletal development in vertebrates, and playing a specific role in craniofacial and skull morphogenesis. The anatomically modern human (AMH) features sequence changes in the RUNX2 locus compared with archaic hominins' species. We aimed to understand how these changes may have contributed to human skull globularization occurred in recent evolution. We compared in silico AMH and archaic hominins' genomes, and used mesenchymal stromal cells isolated from skull sutures of craniosynostosis patients for in vitro functional assays. We detected 459 and 470 nucleotide changes in noncoding regions of the AMH RUNX2 locus, compared with the Neandertal and Denisovan genomes, respectively. Three nucleotide changes in the proximal promoter were predicted to alter the binding of the zinc finger protein Znf263 and long-distance interactions with other cis-regulatory regions. By surface plasmon resonance, we selected nucleotide substitutions in the 3'UTRs able to affect miRNA binding affinity. Specifically, miR-3150a-3p and miR-6785-5p expression inversely correlated with RUNX2 expression during in vitro osteogenic differentiation. The expression of two long non-coding RNAs, AL096865.1 and RUNX2-AS1, within the same locus, was modulated during in vitro osteogenic differentiation and correlated with the expression of specific RUNX2 isoforms. Our data suggest that RUNX2 may have undergone adaptive phenotypic evolution caused by epigenetic and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, which may explain the delayed suture fusion leading to the present-day globular skull shape.

RevDate: 2021-11-30
CmpDate: 2021-11-30

Yuan K, Ni X, Liu C, et al (2021)

Refining models of archaic admixture in Eurasia with ArchaicSeeker 2.0.

Nature communications, 12(1):6232.

We developed a method, ArchaicSeeker 2.0, to identify introgressed hominin sequences and model multiple-wave admixture. The new method enabled us to discern two waves of introgression from both Denisovan-like and Neanderthal-like hominins in present-day Eurasian populations and an ancient Siberian individual. We estimated that an early Denisovan-like introgression occurred in Eurasia around 118.8-94.0 thousand years ago (kya). In contrast, we detected only one single episode of Denisovan-like admixture in indigenous peoples eastern to the Wallace-Line. Modeling ancient admixtures suggested an early dispersal of modern humans throughout Asia before the Toba volcanic super-eruption 74 kya, predating the initial peopling of Asia as proposed by the traditional Out-of-Africa model. Survived archaic sequences are involved in various phenotypes including immune and body mass (e.g., ZNF169), cardiovascular and lung function (e.g., HHAT), UV response and carbohydrate metabolism (e.g., HYAL1/HYAL2/HYAL3), while "archaic deserts" are enriched with genes associated with skin development and keratinization.

RevDate: 2022-02-11
CmpDate: 2022-02-11

Roksandic M, Radović P, Wu XJ, et al (2022)

Resolving the "muddle in the middle": The case for Homo bodoensis sp. nov.

Evolutionary anthropology, 31(1):20-29.

Recent developments in the field of palaeoanthropology necessitate the suppression of two hominin taxa and the introduction of a new species of hominins to help resolve the current nebulous state of Middle Pleistocene (Chibanian) hominin taxonomy. In particular, the poorly defined and variably understood hominin taxa Homo heidelbergensis (both sensu stricto and sensu lato) and Homo rhodesiensis need to be abandoned as they fail to reflect the full range of hominin variability in the Middle Pleistocene. Instead, we propose: (1) introduction of a new taxon, Homo bodoensis sp. nov., as an early Middle Pleistocene ancestor of the Homo sapiens lineage, with a pan-African distribution that extends into the eastern Mediterranean (Southeast Europe and the Levant); (2) that many of the fossils from Western Europe (e.g. Sima de los Huesos) currently assigned to H. heidelbergensis s.s. be reassigned to Homo neanderthalensis to reflect the early appearance of Neanderthal derived traits in the Middle Pleistocene in the region; and (3) that the Middle Pleistocene Asian fossils, particularly from China, likely represent a different lineage altogether.

RevDate: 2021-12-14
CmpDate: 2021-12-03

Zilhão J, Angelucci DE, Arnold LJ, et al (2021)

Revisiting the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic archaeology of Gruta do Caldeirão (Tomar, Portugal).

PloS one, 16(10):e0259089.

Gruta do Caldeirão features a c. 6 m-thick archaeological stratification capped by Holocene layers ABC-D and Ea, which overlie layer Eb, a deposit of Magdalenian age that underwent significant disturbance, intrusion, and component mixing caused by funerary use of the cave during the Early Neolithic. Here, we provide an updated overview of the stratigraphy and archaeological content of the underlying Pleistocene succession, whose chronology we refine using radiocarbon and single-grain optically stimulated luminescence dating. We find a high degree of stratigraphic integrity. Dating anomalies exist in association with the succession's two major discontinuities: between layer Eb and Upper Solutrean layer Fa, and between Early Upper Palaeolithic layer K and Middle Palaeolithic layer L. Mostly, the anomalies consist of older-than-expected radiocarbon ages and can be explained by bioturbation and palimpsest-forming sedimentation hiatuses. Combined with palaeoenvironmental inferences derived from magnetic susceptibility analyses, the dating shows that sedimentation rates varied in tandem with the oscillations in global climate revealed by the Greenland oxygen isotope record. A steep increase in sedimentation rate is observed through the Last Glacial Maximum, resulting in a c. 1.5 m-thick accumulation containing conspicuous remains of occupation by people of the Solutrean technocomplex, whose traditional subdivision is corroborated: the index fossils appear in the expected stratigraphic order; the diagnostics of the Protosolutrean and the Lower Solutrean predate 24,000 years ago; and the constraints on the Upper Solutrean place it after Greenland Interstadial 2.2. (23,220-23,340 years ago). Human usage of the site during the Early Upper and the Middle Palaeolithic is episodic and low-intensity: stone tools are few, and the faunal remains relate to carnivore activity. The Middle Palaeolithic is found to persist beyond 39,000 years ago, at least three millennia longer than in the Franco-Cantabrian region. This conclusion is upheld by Bayesian modelling and stands even if the radiocarbon ages for the Middle Palaeolithic levels are removed from consideration (on account of observed inversions and the method's potential for underestimation when used close to its limit of applicability). A number of localities in Spain and Portugal reveal a similar persistence pattern. The key evidence comes from high-resolution fluviatile contexts spared by the site formation issues that our study of Caldeirão brings to light-palimpsest formation, post-depositional disturbance, and erosion. These processes. are ubiquitous in the cave and rock-shelter sites of Iberia, reflecting the impact on karst archives of the variation in climate and environments that occurred through the Upper Pleistocene, and especially at two key points in time: between 37,000 and 42,000 years ago, and after the Last Glacial Maximum. Such empirical difficulties go a long way towards explaining the controversies surrounding the associated cultural transitions: from the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic, and from the Solutrean to the Magdalenian. Alongside potential dating error caused by incomplete decontamination, proper consideration of sample association issues is required if we are ever to fully understand what happened with the human settlement of Iberia during these critical intervals, and especially so with regards to the fate of Iberia's last Neandertal populations.

RevDate: 2022-01-26
CmpDate: 2022-01-26

Mahadevan J, Pathak AK, Vemula A, et al (2021)

Analysis of whole exome sequencing in severe mental illness hints at selection of brain development and immune related genes.

Scientific reports, 11(1):21088.

Evolutionary trends may underlie some aspects of the risk for common, non-communicable disorders, including psychiatric disease. We analyzed whole exome sequencing data from 80 unique individuals from India coming from families with two or more individuals with severe mental illness. We used Population Branch Statistics (PBS) to identify variants and genes under positive selection and identified 74 genes as candidates for positive selection. Of these, 20 were previously associated with Schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and cognitive abilities in genome wide association studies. We then checked whether any of these 74 genes were involved in common biological pathways or related to specific cellular or molecular functions. We found that immune related pathways and functions related to innate immunity such as antigen binding were over-represented. We also evaluated for the presence of Neanderthal introgressed segments in these genes and found Neanderthal introgression in a single gene out of the 74 candidate genes. However, the introgression pattern indicates the region is unlikely to be the source for selection. Our findings hint at how selection pressures in individuals from families with a history of severe mental illness may diverge from the general population. Further, it also provides insights into the genetic architecture of severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and its link to immune factors.

RevDate: 2022-01-27
CmpDate: 2022-01-27

Jagoda E, Xue JR, Reilly SK, et al (2022)

Detection of Neanderthal Adaptively Introgressed Genetic Variants That Modulate Reporter Gene Expression in Human Immune Cells.

Molecular biology and evolution, 39(1):.

Although some variation introgressed from Neanderthals has undergone selective sweeps, little is known about its functional significance. We used a Massively Parallel Reporter Assay (MPRA) to assay 5,353 high-frequency introgressed variants for their ability to modulate the gene expression within 170 bp of endogenous sequence. We identified 2,548 variants in active putative cis-regulatory elements (CREs) and 292 expression-modulating variants (emVars). These emVars are predicted to alter the binding motifs of important immune transcription factors, are enriched for associations with neutrophil and white blood cell count, and are associated with the expression of genes that function in innate immune pathways including inflammatory response and antiviral defense. We combined the MPRA data with other data sets to identify strong candidates to be driver variants of positive selection including an emVar that may contribute to protection against severe COVID-19 response. We endogenously deleted two CREs containing expression-modulation variants linked to immune function, rs11624425 and rs80317430, identifying their primary genic targets as ELMSAN1, and PAN2 and STAT2, respectively, three genes differentially expressed during influenza infection. Overall, we present the first database of experimentally identified expression-modulating Neanderthal-introgressed alleles contributing to potential immune response in modern humans.

RevDate: 2022-01-10
CmpDate: 2021-11-29

Chen T, Lin YX, Zha Y, et al (2021)

A Low-Producing Haplotype of Interleukin-6 Disrupting CTCF Binding Is Protective against Severe COVID-19.

mBio, 12(5):e0137221.

Interleukin6 (IL-6) is a key driver of hyperinflammation in COVID-19, and its level strongly correlates with disease progression. To investigate whether variability in COVID-19 severity partially results from differential IL-6 expression, functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of IL-6 were determined in Chinese COVID-19 patients with mild or severe illness. An Asian-common IL-6 haplotype defined by promoter SNP rs1800796 and intronic SNPs rs1524107 and rs2066992 correlated with COVID-19 severity. Homozygote carriers of C-T-T variant haplotype were at lower risk of developing severe symptoms (odds ratio, 0.256; 95% confidence interval, 0.088 to 0.739; P = 0.007). This protective haplotype was associated with lower levels of IL-6 and its antisense long noncoding RNA IL-6-AS1 by cis-expression quantitative trait loci analysis. The differences in expression resulted from the disturbance of stimulus-dependent bidirectional transcription of the IL-6/IL-6-AS1 locus by the polymorphisms. The protective rs2066992-T allele disrupted a conserved CTCF-binding locus at the enhancer elements of IL-6-AS1, which transcribed antisense to IL-6 and induces IL-6 expression in inflammatory responses. As a result, carriers of the protective allele had significantly reduced IL-6-AS1 expression and attenuated IL-6 induction in response to acute inflammatory stimuli and viral infection. Intriguingly, this low-producing variant that is endemic to present-day Asia was found in early humans who had inhabited mainland Asia since ∼40,000 years ago but not in other ancient humans, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans. The present study suggests that an individual's IL-6 genotype underlies COVID-19 outcome and may be used to guide IL-6 blockade therapy in Asian patients. IMPORTANCE Overproduction of cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a hallmark of severe COVID-19 and is believed to play a critical role in exacerbating the excessive inflammatory response. Polymorphisms in IL-6 account for the variability of IL-6 expression and disparities in infectious diseases, but its contribution to the clinical presentation of COVID-19 has not been reported. Here, we investigated IL-6 polymorphisms in severe and mild cases of COVID-19 in a Chinese population. The variant haplotype C-T-T, represented by rs1800796, rs1524107, and rs2066992 at the IL-6 locus, was reduced in patients with severe illness; in contrast, carriers of the wild-type haplotype G-C-G had higher risk of severe illness. Mechanistically, the protective variant haplotype lost CTCF binding at the IL-6 intron and responded poorly to inflammatory stimuli, which may protect the carriers from hyperinflammation in response to acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. These results point out the possibility that IL-6 genotypes underlie the differential viral virulence during the outbreak of COVID-19. The risk loci we identified may serve as a genetic marker to screen high-risk COVID-19 patients.

RevDate: 2021-12-14

Villanea FA, Huerta-Sanchez E, K Fox (2021)

Corrigendum to: ABO Genetic Variation in Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Molecular biology and evolution, 38(12):5835.

RevDate: 2022-05-02
CmpDate: 2021-10-19

Shiba T, Komatsu K, Sudo T, et al (2021)

Comparison of Periodontal Bacteria of Edo and Modern Periods Using Novel Diagnostic Approach for Periodontitis With Micro-CT.

Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 11:723821.

Ancient dental calculus, formed from dental plaque, is a rich source of ancient DNA and can provide information regarding the food and oral microbiology at that time. Genomic analysis of dental calculus from Neanderthals has revealed the difference in bacterial composition of oral microbiome between Neanderthals and modern humans. There are few reports investigating whether the pathogenic bacteria of periodontitis, a polymicrobial disease induced in response to the accumulation of dental plaque, were different between ancient and modern humans. This study aimed to compare the bacterial composition of the oral microbiome in ancient and modern human samples and to investigate whether lifestyle differences depending on the era have altered the bacterial composition of the oral microbiome and the causative bacteria of periodontitis. Additionally, we introduce a novel diagnostic approach for periodontitis in ancient skeletons using micro-computed tomography. Ancient 16S rDNA sequences were obtained from 12 samples at the Unko-in site (18th-19th century) of the Edo era (1603-1867), a characteristic period in Japan when immigrants were not accepted. Furthermore, modern 16S rDNA data from 53 samples were obtained from a database to compare the modern and ancient microbiome. The microbial co-occurrence network was analyzed based on 16S rDNA read abundance. Eubacterium species, Mollicutes species, and Treponema socranskii were the core species in the Edo co-occurrence network. The co-occurrence relationship between Actinomyces oricola and Eggerthella lenta appeared to have played a key role in causing periodontitis in the Edo era. However, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum subsp. vincentii, and Prevotella pleuritidis were the core and highly abundant species in the co-occurrence network of modern samples. These results suggest the possibility of differences in the pathogens causing periodontitis during different eras in history.

RevDate: 2021-12-30
CmpDate: 2021-12-30

Rothschild B, M Haeusler (2021)

Possible vertebral brucellosis infection in a Neanderthal.

Scientific reports, 11(1):19846.

The La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 skeleton of an old (>60-year-old) male Neanderthal is renowned for the advanced osteoarthritis of its spinal column and hip joint, and their implications for posture and lifestyle in these Mid- to Late Pleistocene humans. Reassessment of the pathologic lesions reveals erosions at multiple non-contiguous vertebrae and reactive bone formation extending far beyond the left hip joint, which suggests the additional diagnosis of brucellosis. This implies the earliest secure evidence of this zoonotic disease in hominin evolution. Brucellosis might have been transmitted via butchering or eating raw meat and is well compatible with the range of prey animals documented for Neanderthals. The associated infertility could have represented an important aspect of health in these late archaic humans.

RevDate: 2021-12-14
CmpDate: 2021-12-10

Findley AS, Zhang X, Boye C, et al (2021)

A signature of Neanderthal introgression on molecular mechanisms of environmental responses.

PLoS genetics, 17(9):e1009493.

Ancient human migrations led to the settlement of population groups in varied environmental contexts worldwide. The extent to which adaptation to local environments has shaped human genetic diversity is a longstanding question in human evolution. Recent studies have suggested that introgression of archaic alleles in the genome of modern humans may have contributed to adaptation to environmental pressures such as pathogen exposure. Functional genomic studies have demonstrated that variation in gene expression across individuals and in response to environmental perturbations is a main mechanism underlying complex trait variation. We considered gene expression response to in vitro treatments as a molecular phenotype to identify genes and regulatory variants that may have played an important role in adaptations to local environments. We investigated if Neanderthal introgression in the human genome may contribute to the transcriptional response to environmental perturbations. To this end we used eQTLs for genes differentially expressed in a panel of 52 cellular environments, resulting from 5 cell types and 26 treatments, including hormones, vitamins, drugs, and environmental contaminants. We found that SNPs with introgressed Neanderthal alleles (N-SNPs) disrupt binding of transcription factors important for environmental responses, including ionizing radiation and hypoxia, and for glucose metabolism. We identified an enrichment for N-SNPs among eQTLs for genes differentially expressed in response to 8 treatments, including glucocorticoids, caffeine, and vitamin D. Using Massively Parallel Reporter Assays (MPRA) data, we validated the regulatory function of 21 introgressed Neanderthal variants in the human genome, corresponding to 8 eQTLs regulating 15 genes that respond to environmental perturbations. These findings expand the set of environments where archaic introgression may have contributed to adaptations to local environments in modern humans and provide experimental validation for the regulatory function of introgressed variants.

RevDate: 2022-03-02

Saitou M, Resendez S, Pradhan AJ, et al (2021)

Sex-specific phenotypic effects and evolutionary history of an ancient polymorphic deletion of the human growth hormone receptor.

Science advances, 7(39):eabi4476.

The common deletion of the third exon of the growth hormone receptor gene (GHRd3) in humans is associated with birth weight, growth after birth, and time of puberty. However, its evolutionary history and the molecular mechanisms through which it affects phenotypes remain unresolved. We present evidence that this deletion was nearly fixed in the ancestral population of anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals but underwent a recent adaptive reduction in frequency in East Asia. We documented that GHRd3 is associated with protection from severe malnutrition. Using a novel mouse model, we found that, under calorie restriction, Ghrd3 leads to the female-like gene expression in male livers and the disappearance of sexual dimorphism in weight. The sex- and diet-dependent effects of GHRd3 in our mouse model are consistent with a model in which the allele frequency of GHRd3 varies throughout human evolution as a response to fluctuations in resource availability.

RevDate: 2022-03-02
CmpDate: 2021-10-01

Liu Y, Mao X, Krause J, et al (2021)

Insights into human history from the first decade of ancient human genomics.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 373(6562):1479-1484.

Recent advancements in DNA sequencing technologies and laboratory preparation protocols have rapidly expanded the scope of ancient DNA research over the past decade, both temporally and geographically. Discoveries include interactions between archaic and modern humans as well as modern human population dynamics, including those coinciding with the Last Glacial Maximum and the settlement history of most world regions. This new type of data allows us to examine the deep past of human population dynamics and sharpen the current understanding of our present. The continued development in the ancient DNA field has transformed our understanding of human genetic history and will keep uncovering the further mysteries of our recent evolutionary past.

RevDate: 2021-11-29
CmpDate: 2021-10-15

Keller M, Hagag IT, Balzer J, et al (2021)

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 in a cat in Germany.

Research in veterinary science, 140:229-232.

Several non-variant of concern SARS-CoV-2 infections in pets have been reported as documented in the OIE and GISAID databases and there is only one fully documented case of an alpha variant of concern (VOC)(B.1.1.7) in the United States so far. Here, we describe the first case in a cat infected with the alpha SARS-CoV-2 variant in Germany. A cat suffering from pneumonia was presented to a veterinary practice. The pneumonia was treated symptomatically, but 16 days later the cat was presented again. Since the owner had been tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the meantime, swab samples were taken from the cat and analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 specific nucleic acids. The various RT-qPCR analyses and whole-genome sequencing revealed the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant in this cat. This study shows that pets living in close contact with SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 infected owners can contract this virus and also suffer from a respiratory disease. It is not clear yet whether onward transmissions to other cats and humans can occur. To minimize transmission risks, pet owners and veterinarians should comply to the hygienic rules published by OIE and others. It must be stated, that infections of cats with SARS-CoV-2 is still a rare event. Cats with clinical signs of a respiratory disease should be presented to a veterinarian, who will decide on further steps.

RevDate: 2021-11-02
CmpDate: 2021-11-02

Neto de Carvalho C, Belaústegui Z, Toscano A, et al (2021)

First tracks of newborn straight-tusked elephants (Palaeoloxodon antiquus).

Scientific reports, 11(1):17311.

Tracks and trackways of newborns, calves and juveniles attributed to straight-tusked elephants were found in the MIS 5 site (Upper Pleistocene) known as the Matalascañas Trampled Surface (MTS) at Huelva, SW Spain. Evidence of a snapshot of social behaviour, especially parental care, can be determined from the concentration of elephant tracks and trackways, and especially from apparently contemporaneous converging trackways, of small juvenile and larger, presumably young adult female tracks. The size frequency of the tracks enabled us to infer body mass and age distribution of the animals that crossed the MTS. Comparisons of the MTS demographic frequency with the morphology of the fore- and hind limbs of extant and fossil proboscideans shed light into the reproductive ecology of the straight-tusked elephant, Palaeloxodon antiquus. The interdune pond habitat appeared to have been an important water and food resource for matriarchal herds of straight-tusked elephants and likely functioned as a reproductive habitat, with only the rare presence of adult and older males in the MTS. The preservation of this track record in across a paleosol surface, although heavily trampled by different animals, including Neanderthals, over a short time frame, permitted an exceptional view into short-term intraspecific trophic interactions occurring in the Last Interglacial coastal habitat. Therefore, it is hypothesized that Neanderthals visited MTS for hunting or scavenging on weakened or dead elephants, and more likely calves.

RevDate: 2022-01-13
CmpDate: 2021-10-22

Yan SM, Sherman RM, Taylor DJ, et al (2021)

Local adaptation and archaic introgression shape global diversity at human structural variant loci.

eLife, 10:.

Large genomic insertions and deletions are a potent source of functional variation, but are challenging to resolve with short-read sequencing, limiting knowledge of the role of such structural variants (SVs) in human evolution. Here, we used a graph-based method to genotype long-read-discovered SVs in short-read data from diverse human genomes. We then applied an admixture-aware method to identify 220 SVs exhibiting extreme patterns of frequency differentiation - a signature of local adaptation. The top two variants traced to the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus, tagging a haplotype that swept to near fixation in certain southeast Asian populations, but is rare in other global populations. Further investigation revealed evidence that the haplotype traces to gene flow from Neanderthals, corroborating the role of immune-related genes as prominent targets of adaptive introgression. Our study demonstrates how recent technical advances can help resolve signatures of key evolutionary events that remained obscured within technically challenging regions of the genome.

RevDate: 2022-01-13
CmpDate: 2022-01-13

Árnason Ú (2021)

The unidirectional phylogeny of Homo sapiens anchors the origin of modern humans in Eurasia.

Hereditas, 158(1):36.

BACKGROUND: The Out of Africa hypothesis, OOAH, was challenged recently in an extended mtDNA analysis, PPA (Progressive Phylogenetic Analysis), that identified the African human populations as paraphyletic, a finding that contradicted the common OOAH understanding that Hss had originated in Africa and invaded Eurasia from there. The results were consistent with the molecular Out of Eurasia hypothesis, OOEH, and Eurasian palaeontology, a subject that has been largely disregarded in the discussion of OOAH.

RESULTS: In the present study the mtDNA tree, a phylogeny based on maternal inheritance, was compared to the nuclear DNA tree of the paternally transmitted Y-chromosome haplotypes, Y-DNAs. The comparison showed full phylogenetic coherence between these two separate sets of data. The results were consistent with potentially four translocations of modern humans from Eurasia into Africa, the earliest taking place ≈ 250,000 years before present, YBP. The results were in accordance with the postulates behind OOEH at the same time as they lent no support to the OOAH.

CONCLUSIONS: The conformity between the mtDNA and Y-DNA phylogenies of Hss is consistent with the understanding that Eurasia was the donor and not the receiver in human evolution. The evolutionary problems related to OOAH became similarly exposed by the mtDNA introgression that took place from Hss into Neanderthals ≈ 500,000 YBP, a circumstance that demonstrated the early coexistence of the two lineages in Eurasia.

RevDate: 2021-10-06
CmpDate: 2021-10-06

Coll Macià M, Skov L, Peter BM, et al (2021)

Different historical generation intervals in human populations inferred from Neanderthal fragment lengths and mutation signatures.

Nature communications, 12(1):5317.

After the main Out-of-Africa event, humans interbred with Neanderthals leaving 1-2% of Neanderthal DNA scattered in small fragments in all non-African genomes today. Here we investigate what can be learned about human demographic processes from the size distribution of these fragments. We observe differences in fragment length across Eurasia with 12% longer fragments in East Asians than West Eurasians. Comparisons between extant populations with ancient samples show that these differences are caused by different rates of decay in length by recombination since the Neanderthal admixture. In concordance, we observe a strong correlation between the average fragment length and the mutation accumulation, similar to what is expected by changing the ages at reproduction as estimated from trio studies. Altogether, our results suggest differences in the generation interval across Eurasia, by up 10-20%, over the past 40,000 years. We use sex-specific mutation signatures to infer whether these changes were driven by shifts in either male or female age at reproduction, or both. We also find that previously reported variation in the mutational spectrum may be largely explained by changes to the generation interval. We conclude that Neanderthal fragment lengths provide unique insight into differences among human populations over recent history.

RevDate: 2021-11-23
CmpDate: 2021-11-23

Çep B, Schürch B, Münzel SC, et al (2021)

Adaptive capacity and flexibility of the Neanderthals at Heidenschmiede (Swabian Jura) with regard to core reduction strategies.

PloS one, 16(9):e0257041.

The branched reduction system at the Heidenschmiede described here is hitherto exceptional for the Middle Paleolithic of the Swabian Jura. By means of refits and supporting objects, we are able to describe a superordinate reduction system that combines several individual reduction concepts, such as Levallois and blade production, within one volume. In the Middle Paleolithic of the Swabian Jura, blade technology has thus far played a rather minor role. On the one hand, it is possible to split a selected volume (nodule) into three parts, which are reduced separately according to individual concepts. On the other hand, it is also possible to reduce parts of a volume with one concept first and then with another. The hypothetical reduction system can be branched or linear, thus emphasizing the technological flexibility in core reduction, which requires a high degree of cognitive skills of three-dimensional imagination.

RevDate: 2022-01-13
CmpDate: 2022-01-13

Gregory MD, Eisenberg DP, Hamborg M, et al (2021)

Neanderthal-derived genetic variation in living humans relates to schizophrenia diagnosis, to psychotic symptom severity, and to dopamine synthesis.

American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics, 186(5):329-338.

Schizophrenia has been hypothesized to be a human-specific condition, but experimental approaches to testing this idea have been limited. Because Neanderthals, our closest evolutionary relatives, interbred with modern humans prior to their disappearance from the fossil record, leaving a residual echo that survives in our DNA today, we leveraged new discoveries about ancient hominid DNA to explore this hypothesis in living people in three converging ways. First, in four independent case-control datasets totaling 9,362 individuals, individuals with schizophrenia had less Neanderthal-derived genetic variation than controls (p = .044). Second, in 49 unmedicated inpatients with schizophrenia, having more Neanderthal admixture predicted less severe positive symptoms (p = .046). Finally, using 18 F-fluorodopa PET scanning in 172 healthy individuals, having greater Neanderthal introgression was significantly associated with lower dopamine synthesis capacity in the striatum and pons (p's < 2 × 10-5), which is fundamentally important in the pathophysiology and treatment of psychosis. These results may help to elucidate the evolutionary history of a devastating neuropsychiatric disease by supporting the notion of schizophrenia as a human-specific condition. Additionally, the relationship between Neanderthal admixture and dopamine function suggests a potential mechanism whereby Neanderthal admixture may have affected our gene pool to alter schizophrenia risk and/or course.

RevDate: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

Ferreira JC, Alshamali F, Montinaro F, et al (2021)

Projecting Ancient Ancestry in Modern-Day Arabians and Iranians: A Key Role of the Past Exposed Arabo-Persian Gulf on Human Migrations.

Genome biology and evolution, 13(9):.

The Arabian Peninsula is strategic for investigations centered on the early structuring of modern humans in the wake of the out-of-Africa migration. Despite its poor climatic conditions for the recovery of ancient human DNA evidence, the availability of both genomic data from neighboring ancient specimens and informative statistical tools allow modeling the ancestry of local modern populations. We applied this approach to a data set of 741,000 variants screened in 291 Arabians and 78 Iranians, and obtained insightful evidence. The west-east axis was a strong forcer of population structure in the Peninsula, and, more importantly, there were clear continuums throughout time linking western Arabia with the Levant, and eastern Arabia with Iran and the Caucasus. Eastern Arabians also displayed the highest levels of the basal Eurasian lineage of all tested modern-day populations, a signal that was maintained even after correcting for a possible bias due to a recent sub-Saharan African input in their genomes. Not surprisingly, eastern Arabians were also the ones with highest similarity with Iberomaurusians, who were, so far, the best proxy for the basal Eurasians amongst the known ancient specimens. The basal Eurasian lineage is the signature of ancient non-Africans who diverged from the common European-eastern Asian pool before 50,000 years ago, prior to the later interbred with Neanderthals. Our results appear to indicate that the exposed basin of the Arabo-Persian Gulf was the possible home of basal Eurasians, a scenario to be further investigated by searching ancient Arabian human specimens.

RevDate: 2022-03-04
CmpDate: 2021-12-06

Warinner C, Velsko IM, JA Fellows Yates (2021)

Reply to Ben-Dor et al.: Oral bacteria of Neanderthals and modern humans exhibit evidence of starch adaptation.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(37):.

RevDate: 2022-04-06
CmpDate: 2021-11-04

Groucutt HS, White TS, Scerri EML, et al (2021)

Multiple hominin dispersals into Southwest Asia over the past 400,000 years.

Nature, 597(7876):376-380.

Pleistocene hominin dispersals out of, and back into, Africa necessarily involved traversing the diverse and often challenging environments of Southwest Asia1-4. Archaeological and palaeontological records from the Levantine woodland zone document major biological and cultural shifts, such as alternating occupations by Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. However, Late Quaternary cultural, biological and environmental records from the vast arid zone that constitutes most of Southwest Asia remain scarce, limiting regional-scale insights into changes in hominin demography and behaviour1,2,5. Here we report a series of dated palaeolake sequences, associated with stone tool assemblages and vertebrate fossils, from the Khall Amayshan 4 and Jubbah basins in the Nefud Desert. These findings, including the oldest dated hominin occupations in Arabia, reveal at least five hominin expansions into the Arabian interior, coinciding with brief 'green' windows of reduced aridity approximately 400, 300, 200, 130-75 and 55 thousand years ago. Each occupation phase is characterized by a distinct form of material culture, indicating colonization by diverse hominin groups, and a lack of long-term Southwest Asian population continuity. Within a general pattern of African and Eurasian hominin groups being separated by Pleistocene Saharo-Arabian aridity, our findings reveal the tempo and character of climatically modulated windows for dispersal and admixture.

RevDate: 2021-12-14
CmpDate: 2021-12-03

Buck LT, Katz DC, Ackermann RR, et al (2021)

Effects of hybridization on pelvic morphology: A macaque model.

Journal of human evolution, 159:103049.

Ancient DNA analyses have shown that interbreeding between hominin taxa occurred multiple times. Although admixture is often reflected in skeletal phenotype, the relationship between the two remains poorly understood, hampering interpretation of the hominin fossil record. Direct study of this relationship is often impossible due to the paucity of hominin fossils and difficulties retrieving ancient genetic material. Here, we use a sample of known ancestry hybrids between two closely related nonhuman primate taxa (Indian and Chinese Macaca mulatta) to investigate the effect of admixture on skeletal morphology. We focus on pelvic shape, which has potential fitness implications in hybrids, as mismatches between maternal pelvic and fetal cranial morphology are often fatal to mother and offspring. As the pelvis is also one of the skeletal regions that differs most between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, investigating the pelvic consequences of interbreeding could be informative regarding the viability of their hybrids. We find that the effect of admixture in M. mulatta is small and proportional to the relatively small morphological difference between the parent taxa. Sexual dimorphism appears to be the main determinant of pelvic shape in M. mulatta. The lack of difference in pelvic shape between Chinese and Indian M. mulatta is in contrast to that between Neanderthals and H. sapiens, despite a similar split time (in generations) between the hybridizing pairs. Greater phenotypic divergence between hominins may relate to adaptations to disparate environments but may also highlight how the unique degree of cultural buffering in hominins allowed for greater neutral divergence. In contrast to some previous work identifying extreme morphologies in first- and second-generation hybrids, here the relationship between pelvic shape and admixture is linear. This linearity may be because most sampled animals have a multigenerational admixture history or because of relatively high constraints on the pelvis compared with other skeletal regions.

RevDate: 2021-11-29
CmpDate: 2021-11-29

Heydari-Guran S, Benazzi S, Talamo S, et al (2021)

The discovery of an in situ Neanderthal remain in the Bawa Yawan Rockshelter, West-Central Zagros Mountains, Kermanshah.

PloS one, 16(8):e0253708.

Neanderthal extinction has been a matter of debate for many years. New discoveries, better chronologies and genomic evidence have done much to clarify some of the issues. This evidence suggests that Neanderthals became extinct around 40,000-37,000 years before present (BP), after a period of coexistence with Homo sapiens of several millennia, involving biological and cultural interactions between the two groups. However, the bulk of this evidence relates to Western Eurasia, and recent work in Central Asia and Siberia has shown that there is considerable local variation. Southwestern Asia, despite having a number of significant Neanderthal remains, has not played a major part in the debate over extinction. Here we report a Neanderthal deciduous canine from the site of Bawa Yawan in the West-Central Zagros Mountains of Iran. The tooth is associated with Zagros Mousterian lithics, and its context is preliminary dated to between ~43,600 and ~41,500 years ago.

RevDate: 2021-09-24
CmpDate: 2021-09-24

Hsieh P, Dang V, Vollger MR, et al (2021)

Evidence for opposing selective forces operating on human-specific duplicated TCAF genes in Neanderthals and humans.

Nature communications, 12(1):5118.

TRP channel-associated factor 1/2 (TCAF1/TCAF2) proteins antagonistically regulate the cold-sensor protein TRPM8 in multiple human tissues. Understanding their significance has been complicated given the locus spans a gap-ridden region with complex segmental duplications in GRCh38. Using long-read sequencing, we sequence-resolve the locus, annotate full-length TCAF models in primate genomes, and show substantial human-specific TCAF copy number variation. We identify two human super haplogroups, H4 and H5, and establish that TCAF duplications originated ~1.7 million years ago but diversified only in Homo sapiens by recurrent structural mutations. Conversely, in all archaic-hominin samples the fixation for a specific H4 haplotype without duplication is likely due to positive selection. Here, our results of TCAF copy number expansion, selection signals in hominins, and differential TCAF2 expression between haplogroups and high TCAF2 and TRPM8 expression in liver and prostate in modern-day humans imply TCAF diversification among hominins potentially in response to cold or dietary adaptations.

RevDate: 2021-11-24
CmpDate: 2021-11-24

Richards MP, Mannino MA, Jaouen K, et al (2021)

Strontium isotope evidence for Neanderthal and modern human mobility at the upper and middle palaeolithic site of Fumane Cave (Italy).

PloS one, 16(8):e0254848.

To investigate the mobility patterns of Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe during the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition period, we applied strontium isotope analysis to Neanderthal (n = 3) and modern human (n = 2) teeth recovered from the site of Fumane Cave in the Monti Lessini region of Northern Italy. We also measured a large number of environmental samples from the region, to establish a strontium 'baseline', and also micromammals (vole teeth) from the levels associated with the hominin teeth. We found that the modern humans and Neanderthals had similar strontium isotope values, and these values match the local baseline values we obtained for the site and the surrounding region. We conclude that both groups were utilizing the local mountainous region where Fumane Cave is situated, and likely the nearby Lessini highlands and Adige plains, and therefore the strontium evidence does not show differening mobility patterns between Neanderthals and modern humans at the Fumane site.

RevDate: 2021-11-02
CmpDate: 2021-11-02

Bensusan K, Holmes TL, Perez C, et al (2021)

Crag Martin neontology complements taphonomy at the Gorham's Cave Complex.

Scientific reports, 11(1):16851.

Species present in the fossil record may continue to exist at an archaeological site, allowing study that fine-tunes our picture of the ecological past. A large wintering population of Eurasian Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne rupestris (ECM) roosts at the 'Gorham's Cave Complex' UNESCO World Heritage site in Gibraltar, which is best known for its occupation by Neanderthals at times when ECMs were also present. Its complex geomorphology allows the study of use of different micro-sites (caves) within the roost. We used mark-recapture to test whether birds showed fidelity to micro-sites for roosting, and for differences in condition of birds across micro-sites. ECM showed very high fidelity towards micro-sites, within and between years, with > 90% chance of recapture at caves where they were first caught. Condition of birds differed between micro-sites, suggesting differences in roost quality between caves; birds were more likely to be recaptured at the micro-site where birds were in best condition, indicating higher survivorship. Our results demonstrate extremely fine-scale fidelity at the largest roosting site documented for ECM globally. Implications for conservation are discussed. The study provides current knowledge of a bird that has been using these caves since the Pleistocene and more generally on these caves as refuges.

RevDate: 2021-10-08
CmpDate: 2021-10-08

Estalrrich A, AB Marín-Arroyo (2021)

Evidence of habitual behavior from non-alimentary dental wear on deciduous teeth from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic Cantabrian region, Northern Spain.

Journal of human evolution, 158:103047.

The use of 'teeth as tools' (non-masticatory or cultural-related dental wear) has largely been employed as a proxy for studying of past human behavior, mainly in permanent dentition from adult individuals. Here we present the analysis of the non-masticatory dental wear modifications on the deciduous dentition assigned to eight Neanderthal and anatomically modern human subadult individuals from Mousterian to Magdalenian technocultural contexts in the Cantabrian region (Northern Spain). Although preliminary, we tentatively suggest that these eight subadults present activity-related dental wear, including cultural striations, chipped enamel, toothpick grooves, and subvertical grooves. We also found evidence of habitual dental hygienic practices in the form of toothpicking on a deciduous premolar. Orientation of the cultural striations indicates similar handedness development as in modern children. Taken together, these dental wear patterns support the participation of young individuals in group activities, making them potential contributors to group welfare. This study potentially adds new evidence to the importance of the use of the mouth in paramasticatory activities or as a third hand throughout the Pleistocene, which can be confirmed with a more specific reference sample.

RevDate: 2022-04-08
CmpDate: 2022-04-08

Larena M, McKenna J, Sanchez-Quinto F, et al (2021)

Philippine Ayta possess the highest level of Denisovan ancestry in the world.

Current biology : CB, 31(19):4219-4230.e10.

Multiple lines of evidence show that modern humans interbred with archaic Denisovans. Here, we report an account of shared demographic history between Australasians and Denisovans distinctively in Island Southeast Asia. Our analyses are based on ∼2.3 million genotypes from 118 ethnic groups of the Philippines, including 25 diverse self-identified Negrito populations, along with high-coverage genomes of Australopapuans and Ayta Magbukon Negritos. We show that Ayta Magbukon possess the highest level of Denisovan ancestry in the world-∼30%-40% greater than that of Australians and Papuans-consistent with an independent admixture event into Negritos from Denisovans. Together with the recently described Homo luzonensis, we suggest that there were multiple archaic species that inhabited the Philippines prior to the arrival of modern humans and that these archaic groups may have been genetically related. Altogether, our findings unveil a complex intertwined history of modern and archaic humans in the Asia-Pacific region, where distinct Islander Denisovan populations differentially admixed with incoming Australasians across multiple locations and at various points in time.

RevDate: 2021-09-17
CmpDate: 2021-09-17

Paar V, Vlahović I, Rosandić M, et al (2021)

Global Repeat Map (GRM): Advantageous Method for Discovery of Largest Higher-Order Repeats (HORs) in Neuroblastoma Breakpoint Family (NBPF) Genes, in Hornerin Exon and in Chromosome 21 Centromere.

Progress in molecular and subcellular biology, 60:203-234.

Here we present three interesting novel human Higher-Order Repeats (HORs) discovered using the HOR-searching method with GRM algorithm: (a) The novel Neuroblastoma Breakpoint Family gene (NBPF) 3mer HOR, discovered applying GRM algorithm to human chromosome 1 (Paar et al., Mol Biol Evol 28:1877-1892, 2011). NBPF 3mer HOR is based on previously known ~1.6 kb NBPF primary repeat monomers (known as DUF1220 domain) in human chromosome 1, but the NBPF HOR was not known before its discovery by using GRM. It should be stressed that the NBPF HOR presents a unique human-specific pattern, distinguishing human from nonhuman primates. (b) The novel quartic HOR (2mer⊃2mer⊃9mer) discovered using the GRM algorithm for analysis of hornerin genes in human chromosome 1 (Paar et al., Mol Biol Evol 28:1877-1892, 2011). This quartic HOR is based on 39 bp hornerin primary repeat monomer in human chromosome 1. To our knowledge, this is the first known case of quartic HOR, with four levels of hierarchy of HOR organization. (c) The novel 33mer alpha satellite HOR in human chromosome 21, discovered using the GRM algorithm (Glunčić et al., Sci Rep 9:12629, 2019). This 33mer HOR in the smallest human chromosome is the largest alpha satellite HOR copy among all 22 somatic human chromosomes. Moreover, the same 33mer HOR is present in the hg38 human genome assembly of four human chromosomes: 21, 22, 13, and 14. We point out that the DUF1220 encoding genomic structures in NBPF genes in human chromosome 1, recently studied and related to the brain evolution and pathologies and cognitive aptitude, can be considered in the framework of the general concept of HORs, already extensively studied in genomics, especially in the centromeric region.

RevDate: 2022-01-04
CmpDate: 2022-01-04

Almarri MA, Haber M, Lootah RA, et al (2021)

The genomic history of the Middle East.

Cell, 184(18):4612-4625.e14.

The Middle East region is important to understand human evolution and migrations but is underrepresented in genomic studies. Here, we generated 137 high-coverage physically phased genome sequences from eight Middle Eastern populations using linked-read sequencing. We found no genetic traces of early expansions out-of-Africa in present-day populations but found Arabians have elevated Basal Eurasian ancestry that dilutes their Neanderthal ancestry. Population sizes within the region started diverging 15-20 kya, when Levantines expanded while Arabians maintained smaller populations that derived ancestry from local hunter-gatherers. Arabians suffered a population bottleneck around the aridification of Arabia 6 kya, while Levantines had a distinct bottleneck overlapping the 4.2 kya aridification event. We found an association between movement and admixture of populations in the region and the spread of Semitic languages. Finally, we identify variants that show evidence of selection, including polygenic selection. Our results provide detailed insights into the genomic and selective histories of the Middle East.

RevDate: 2021-12-20
CmpDate: 2021-12-20

Madison P (2021)

Brutish Neanderthals: History of a merciless characterization.

Evolutionary anthropology, 30(6):366-374.

The idea that Neanderthals were brutish and unintelligent is often traced back to Marcellin Boule, a French paleontologist who examined the specimen known as the Old Man in the first decades of the 20th century. This article examines the work of Boule's predecessors and aggregate a variety of literature to underline an argument that this idea has much earlier origins and is rooted in the first recognized specimen discovered in the Neander Valley in 1856. Reorienting our understanding of the brutish Neanderthal to account for its 19th-century origins, allows for a reexamination of the factors in 19th-century culture, science, and society which contributed to this caricature, especially the concepts of race and species' extinction. Such a reexamination dismantles the narrative of Boule's error while providing a new vantage point to think about Neanderthals in the present.

RevDate: 2022-02-04
CmpDate: 2021-12-06

Pitarch Martí A, Zilhão J, d'Errico F, et al (2021)

The symbolic role of the underground world among Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(33):.

Cueva de Ardales in Málaga, Spain, is one of the richest and best-preserved Paleolithic painted caves of southwestern Europe, containing over a thousand graphic representations. Here, we study the red pigment in panel II.A.3 of "Sala de las Estrellas," dated by U-Th to the Middle Paleolithic, to determine its composition, verify its anthropogenic nature, infer the associated behaviors, and discuss their implications. Using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction, we analyzed a set of samples from the panel and compared them to natural coloring materials collected from the floor and walls of the cave. The conspicuously different texture and composition of the geological samples indicates that the pigments used in the paintings do not come from the outcrops of colorant material known in the cave. We confirm that the paintings are not the result of natural processes and show that the composition of the paint is consistent with the artistic activity being recurrent. Our results strengthen the hypothesis that Neanderthals symbolically used these paintings and the large stalagmitic dome harboring them over an extended time span.

RevDate: 2021-10-08
CmpDate: 2021-10-08

Bowland LA, Scott JE, Kivell TL, et al (2021)

Homo naledi pollical metacarpal shaft morphology is distinctive and intermediate between that of australopiths and other members of the genus Homo.

Journal of human evolution, 158:103048.

Homo naledi fossils from the Rising Star cave system provide important insights into the diversity of hand morphology within the genus Homo. Notably, the pollical (thumb) metacarpal (Mc1) displays an unusual suite of characteristics including a median longitudinal crest, a narrow proximal base, and broad flaring intrinsic muscle flanges. The present study evaluates the affinities of H. naledi Mc1 morphology via 3D geometric morphometric analysis of shaft shape using a broader comparative sample (n = 337) of fossil hominins, recent humans, apes, and cercopithecoid monkeys than in prior work. Results confirm that the H. naledi Mc1 is distinctive from most other hominins in being narrow at the proximal end but surmounted by flaring muscle flanges distally. Only StW 418 (Australopithecus cf. africanus) is similar in these aspects of shape. The gracile proximal shaft is most similar to cercopithecoids, Pan, Pongo, Australopithecus afarensis, and Australopithecus sediba, suggesting that H. naledi retains the condition primitive for the genus Homo. In contrast, Neandertal Mc1s are characterized by wide proximal bases and shafts, pinched midshafts, and broad distal flanges, while those of recent humans generally have straight shafts, less robust muscle flanges, and wide proximal shafts/bases. Although uncertainties remain regarding character polarity, the morphology of the H. naledi thumb might be interpreted as a retained intermediate state in a transformation series between the overall gracility of the shaft and the robust shafts of later hominins. Such a model suggests that the addition of broad medial and lateral muscle flanges to a primitively slender shaft was the first modification in transforming the Mc1 into the overall more robust structure exhibited by other Homo taxa including Neandertals and recent Homo sapiens in whose shared lineage the bases and proximal shafts became expanded, possibly as an adaptation to the repeated recruitment of powerful intrinsic pollical muscles.


ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.

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The first fossil recognized to be an ancestral human was found in the Neander Valley (thal in German) in 1856. William King suggested Homo neanderthalensis (human from the Neander Valley) as the scientific name for the specimen — hence Neanderthal became the common name by which this early human became known. Now Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced, more is known about their path to extinction, and the existence of Neanderthal culture, including music, has been established. To understand the evolutionary path of the hominid line, one must be familiar with Homo neanderthalensis. These books are highly recommended. R. Robbins

Electronic Scholarly Publishing
961 Red Tail Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226

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Papers in Classical Genetics

The ESP began as an effort to share a handful of key papers from the early days of classical genetics. Now the collection has grown to include hundreds of papers, in full-text format.

Digital Books

Along with papers on classical genetics, ESP offers a collection of full-text digital books, including many works by Darwin (and even a collection of poetry — Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg).


ESP now offers a much improved and expanded collection of timelines, designed to give the user choice over subject matter and dates.


Biographical information about many key scientists.

Selected Bibliographies

Bibliographies on several topics of potential interest to the ESP community are now being automatically maintained and generated on the ESP site.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 07 JUL 2018 )