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The increasing availability of 3D data and tools offers new analytical perspectives in palaeoanthropology, such as the quantitative testing of opposing phylogenetic scenarios. Using optical surface scan data and geometric morphometric techniques, this study explores calvarial shape variation in the "Middle Pleistocene muddle" The morphological variability between H. erectus on the one hand and H. sapiens/. neanderthalensis on the other has long remained obscure: opposing views have attributed the known specimens to any of the three species and possibly one or two more. A large number of landmarks and semilandmarks was extracted from the braincase and the face, in order to quantify the calvarial shape differences among species and key fossils. The results are incompatible with the hypothesis that H. rhodesiensis is the exclusive ancestor of H. sapiens, and offer only weak support for an exclusively European ancestor of Neandertals. © 2010 Académie des sciences.

The study aims at evaluating how land-use modifies the link between the observed distribution of species and the climatic variability and at detecting species involved in that modification. The area studied covers the phytogeographical transition between the South-Sudanian sector and the North-Sudanian sector in western Burkina Faso. It lies along an aridity gradient, of which the aridity index (UNESCO-MAB) ranges from 0.363 to 0.533. The data studied were derived from observations performed on 192 woody species in 603 vegetation survey plots inside and outside protected areas. The species turn-over (β diversity) and the mutual information were assessed along the aridity gradient inside protected areas on one hand and outside protected areas on the other. Our study shows that the statistical links between the geographical distributions of species and the aridity gradient differ according to whether the observations are performed inside or outside the protected areas. Anthropogenic disturbances, mainly agricultural in the region of study, result in a decrease in the β diversity and in the average mutual information between the distribution of all the woody species and the climatic gradient. Moreover, the variation in mutual information differs according to the species: it diversely decreases with agricultural land-use for most of them, but increases for some. Thus, land-use leads to species-specific changes in the realised climatic niches. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Katz D.,University of California at Davis | Friess M.,CNRS Eco-anthropology and Ethnobiology
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2014

This study assessed three-dimensional (3D) photogrammetry as a tool for capturing and quantifying human skull morphology. While virtual reconstruction with 3D surface scanning technology has become an accepted part of the paleoanthropologist's tool kit, recent advances in 3D photogrammetry make it a potential alternative to dedicated surface scanners. The principal advantages of photogrammetry are more rapid raw data collection, simplicity and portability of setup, and reduced equipment costs. We tested the precision and repeatability of 3D photogrammetry by comparing digital models of human crania reconstructed from conventional, 2D digital photographs to those generated using a 3D surface scanner. Overall, the photogrammetry and scanner meshes showed low degrees of deviation from one another. Surface area estimates derived from photogrammetry models tended to be slightly larger. Landmark configurations generally did not cluster together based upon whether the reconstruction was created with photogrammetry or surface scanning technology. Average deviations of landmark coordinates recorded on photogrammetry models were within the generally allowable range of error in osteometry. Thus, while dependent upon the needs of the particular research project, 3D photogrammetry appears to be a suitable, lower-cost alternative to 3D imaging and scanning options. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Palstra F.P.,CNRS Eco-anthropology and Ethnobiology | Fraser D.J.,Concordia University at Montreal
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2012

With an ecological-evolutionary perspective increasingly applied toward the conservation and management of endangered or exploited species, the genetic estimation of effective population size (Ne) has proliferated. Based on a comprehensive analysis of empirical literature from the past two decades, we asked: (i) how often do studies link Ne to the adult census population size (N)? (ii) To what extent is Ne correctly linked to N? (iii) How readily is uncertainty accounted for in both Ne and N when quantifying Ne/N ratios? and (iv) how frequently and to what degree might errors in the estimation of Ne or N affect inferences of Ne/N ratios? We found that only 20% of available Ne estimates (508 of 2617; 233 studies) explicitly attempted to link Ne and N; of these, only 31% (160 of 508) correctly linked Ne and N. Moreover, only 7% (41 of 508) of Ne/N ratios (correctly linked or not) reported confidence intervals for both Ne and N; for those cases where confidence intervals were reported for Ne only, 31% of Ne/N ratios overlapped with 1, of which more than half also reached below Ne/N = 0.01. Uncertainty in Ne/N ratios thus sometimes spanned at least two orders of magnitude. We conclude that the estimation of Ne/N ratios in natural populations could be significantly improved, discuss several options for doing so, and briefly outline some future research directions. © 2012 The Authors.

Gaunet F.,CNRS Eco-anthropology and Ethnobiology
Animal Cognition | Year: 2010

When apes are not fully understood by humans, they persist with attempts to communicate, elaborating their behaviours to better convey their meaning. Such abilities have never been investigated in dogs. The present study aimed to clarify any effect of the visual attentional state of the owner on dogs' (Canis familiaris) social-communicative signals for interacting with humans, and to determine whether dogs persist and elaborate their behaviour in the face of failure to communicate a request. Gaze at a hidden target or at the owner, gaze alternation between a hidden target and the owner, vocalisations and contacts in 12 guide and 12 pet dogs were analysed (i) when the dogs were asked by their owners (blind or sighted) to fetch their inaccessible toy and (ii) when the dogs were subsequently given an unfamiliar object (apparent unsuccessful communication) or their toy (apparent successful communication). No group differences were found, indicating no effect of the visual status of the owner on the dogs' socio-communicative modes (i.e. no sensitivity to human visual attention). Results, however, suggest that the dogs exhibited persistence (but not elaboration) in their "showing" behaviours in each condition, except that in which the toy was returned. Thus, their communication was about a specific item in space (the toy). The results suggest that dogs possess partially intentional non-verbal deictic abilities: (i) to get their inaccessible toy, the dogs gazed at their owners as if to trigger their attention; gaze alternation between the owner and the target direction, and two behaviours directed at the target were performed, apparently to indicate the location of the hidden toy; (ii) after the delivery of the toy, the dogs behaved as if they returned to the play routine, gazing at their owner whilst holding their toy. In conclusion, this study shows that dogs possess partially intentional non-verbal deictic abilities: they exhibit successive visual orienting between a partner and objects, apparent attention-getting behaviours, no sensitivity to the visual status of humans for communication, and persistence in (but no elaboration of) communicative behaviours when apparent attempts to "manipulate" the human partner fail. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

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