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Del Cerro I.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Marmi J.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Ferrando A.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Chashchin P.,Russian Academy of Sciences | And 2 more authors.
Zoologica Scripta | Year: 2010

The Eurasian badgers (Meles spp.) have a fairly widespread distribution in the Palearctic region and their great morphological variability throughout the vast geographic area has nourished an intense debate about the classification of this taxon. Therefore, the aim of this study was to clarify controversies in Eurasian badger taxonomy by means of a new molecular phylogeny. One-hundred and seventeen individuals of Eurasian badgers from 18 countries throughout Eurasia were sequenced for up to 3257 bp of nuclear DNA over six loci (ACTC, BGN, CFTR, CHRNA1, TS and TTR) and 512 bp of the mitochondrial DNA control region. Statistical and phylogenetic analyses for combined nDNA, mtDNA and the total-evidence data clearly showed a strong genetic differentiation in four well-supported clades, three of which corresponded to allopatric badger species previously defined according to morphological data: Meles meles Linnaeus, 1758 in Europe; Meles leucurus Hodgson, 1847 in the continental part of Asia, except the south-west part; and M. anakuma Temminck, 1844 in Japan. Up to now, the fourth clade, made up of individuals from south-west Asia, had been considered as a subspecies. Supported by several pieces of morphological evidence, the new phylogeny revealed that it is necessary to revise the current taxonomic classification of Meles spp. and suggested that the badgers from south-west Asia should be recognised as a separate species, being renamed M. canescens Blanford, 1875. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Finlayson C.,University of Toronto | Blasco R.,Rovira i Virgili University | Blasco R.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Rosell J.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

The hypothesis that Neanderthals exploited birds for the use of their feathers or claws as personal ornaments in symbolic behaviour is revolutionary as it assigns unprecedented cognitive abilities to these hominins. This inference, however, is based on modest faunal samples and thus may not represent a regular or systematic behaviour. Here we address this issue by looking for evidence of such behaviour across a large temporal and geographical framework. Our analyses try to answer four main questions: 1) does a Neanderthal to raptor-corvid connection exist at a large scale, thus avoiding associations that might be regarded as local in space or time?; 2) did Middle (associated with Neanderthals) and Upper Palaeolithic (associated with modern humans) sites contain a greater range of these species than Late Pleistocene paleontological sites?; 3) is there a taphonomic association between Neanderthals and corvids-raptors at Middle Palaeolithic sites on Gibraltar, specifically Gorham's, Vanguard and Ibex Caves? and; 4) was the extraction of wing feathers a local phenomenon exclusive to the Neanderthals at these sites or was it a geographically wider phenomenon?. We compiled a database of 1699 Pleistocene Palearctic sites based on fossil bird sites. We also compiled a taphonomical database from the Middle Palaeolithic assemblages of Gibraltar. We establish a clear, previously unknown and widespread, association between Neanderthals, raptors and corvids. We show that the association involved the direct intervention of Neanderthals on the bones of these birds, which we interpret as evidence of extraction of large flight feathers. The large number of bones, the variety of species processed and the different temporal periods when the behaviour is observed, indicate that this was a systematic, geographically and temporally broad, activity that the Neanderthals undertook. Our results, providing clear evidence that Neanderthal cognitive capacities were comparable to those of Modern Humans, constitute a major advance in the study of human evolution. © 2012 Finlayson et al.

Furio M.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Angelone C.,University of Turin | Angelone C.,Third University of Rome
Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie - Abhandlungen | Year: 2010

Capo Mannu D1 (often cited as Mandriola) is a key site to reconstruct Sardinian PlioQuaternary faunal evolution and origin. After 35 years of the discovery of the site, the insectivore component of the Capo Mannu D1 fauna has been studied resulting in the identification of Parasorex depereti, Asoriculus gibberodon, cf. Soricini indet. and Talpa cf. minor. P. depereti and cf. Soricini indet. are not present in younger Corso-Sardinian assemblages. On the other hand, A. gibberodon and Talpa cf. minor are the oldest known possible ancestors recorded so far of the Late PlioceneQuaternary Corso-Sardinian endemic "Nesiotites" spp. and Talpa tyrrhenica. The insectivores from capo Mannu D1 are not affected by modifications due to the permanence in an insular domain and resemble MN 14-15 insectivore assemblages of SW Europe. Their arrival in Sardinia may have occurred at the Early/Middle Pliocene boundary in concomitance with R. azzarolii, a murid from Capo Mannu D1 that appears very slightly modified with respect to its continental ancestors. © 2010 Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.

Rosell J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Rosell J.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Marco A.S.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia | Negro J.J.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station | Vidal J.R.,University of Huelva
Scientific Reports | Year: 2014

Feral Pigeons have colonised all corners of the Earth, having developed a close association with humans and their activities. The wild ancestor of the Feral Pigeon, the Rock Dove, is a species of rocky habitats, nesting typically on cliff ledges and at the entrance to large caves. This habit would have brought them into close contact with cave-dwelling humans, a relationship usually linked to the development of dwellings in the Neolithic. We show that the association between humans and Rock Doves is an ancient one with its roots in the Palaeolithic and predates the arrival of modern humans into Europe. At Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, the Neanderthals exploited Rock Doves for food for a period of over 40 thousand years, the earliest evidence dating to at least 67 thousand years ago. We show that the exploitation was not casual or sporadic, having found repeated evidence of the practice in different, widely spaced, temporal contexts within the cave. Our results point to hitherto unappreciated capacities of the Neanderthals to exploit birds as food resources on a regular basis. More so, they were practising it long before the arrival of modern humans and had therefore invented it independently.

Abel R.,Imperial College London | Macho G.A.,Institute Catala Of Paleontologia
Journal of Anatomy | Year: 2011

Trabecular architecture forms an important structural component of bone and, depending on the loading conditions encountered during life, is organised in a systematic, bone- and species-specific manner. However, recent studies suggested that gross trabecular arrangement (e.g. density distribution), like overall bone shape, is predetermined and/or affected by factors other than loading and perhaps less plastic than commonly assumed. To explore this issue further, the present cross-sectional ontogenetic study investigated morphological changes in external bone shape in relation to changes in trabecular bundle orientation and anisotropy. Radiographs of 73 modern human ilia were assessed using radiographic and Geometric Morphometric techniques. The study confirmed the apparently strong predetermination of trabecular bundle development, i.e. prior to external loading, although loading clearly also had an effect on overall morphology. For example, the sacro-pubic bundle, which follows the path of load transmission from the auricular surface to the acetabulum, is well defined and shows relatively high levels of anisotropy from early stages of development; the situation for the ischio-iliac strut is similar. However, while the sacro-pubic strut retains a constant relationship with the external landmarks defining the joint surfaces, the ischio-iliac bundle changes its relationship with the external landmarks and becomes aligned with the iliac tubercle only during late adolescence/early adulthood. It is tentatively proposed that the rearrangement of the ischio-iliac strut may reflect a change in locomotor pattern and/or a shift in positional behavior with increasing mass after growth of external bone dimensions has slowed/ceased. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy © 2011 Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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