National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana

Fregenal de la Sierra, Spain

National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana

Fregenal de la Sierra, Spain

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Bruner E.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana | de la Cuetara J.M.,Autonomous University of Madrid | Masters M.,Montana Tech of the University of Montana | Amano H.,Keio University | Ogihara N.,Keio University
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy | Year: 2014

Anatomical systems are organized through a network of structural and functional relationships among their elements. This network of relationships is the result of evolution, it represents the actual target of selection, and it generates the set of rules orienting and constraining the morphogenetic processes. Understanding the relationship among cranial and cerebral components is necessary to investigate the factors that have influenced and characterized our neuroanatomy, and possible drawbacks associated with the evolution of large brains. The study of the spatial relationships between skull and brain in the human genus has direct relevance in cranial surgery. Geometrical modeling can provide functional perspectives in evolution and brain physiology, like in simulations to investigate metabolic heat production and dissipation in the endocranial form. Analysis of the evolutionary constraints between facial and neural blocks can provide new information on visual impairment. The study of brain form variation in fossil humans can supply a different perspective for interpreting the processes behind neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's disease. Following these examples, it is apparent that paleontology and biomedicine can exchange relevant information and contribute at the same time to the development of robust evolutionary hypotheses on brain evolution, while offering more comprehensive biological perspectives with regard to the interpretation of pathological processes. © 2014 Bruner, de la Cuétara, Masters, Amano and Ogihara.


Bruner E.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana | Bruner E.,Jülich Research Center
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease | Year: 2013

Clinical grade Alzheimer's disease (AD) is only described in humans. Recent imaging studies in early AD patients showed that the parietal areas display the most prominent metabolic impairments. So far, neuroimaging studies have not been able to explain why the medial parietal regions possess this hub characteristic in AD. Paleoneurological and neuroanatomical studies suggest that our species, Homo sapiens, has a unique and derived organization of the parietal areas, which are involved in higher cognitive functions. Combining evidence from neuroimaging, paleontology, and comparative anatomy, we suggest that the vulnerability of the parietal lobe to neurodegenerative processes may be associated with the origin of our species. The species-specific parietal morphology in modern humans largely influenced the brain spatial organization, and it involved changes in vascularization and energy management, which may underlie the sensitivity of these areas to metabolic impairment. Metabolic constraints and anatomical evolutionary changes in the medial parietal regions of modern humans may be important in early AD onset. Taking into account the species-specific adaptations of the modern human parietal areas and their association with AD, we hypothesize that AD can be the evolutionary drawback of the specialized structure of our parietal lobes. The cognitive advantage is associated with increased sensitivity to neurodegenerative processes which, being limited to the post-reproductive period, have a minor effect on the overall genetic fitness. The changes of energy requirements associated with form and size variations at the parietal areas may support the hypothesis of AD as a metabolic syndrome. © 2013 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.


Arnold L.J.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana | Arnold L.J.,University of Wollongong | Roberts R.G.,University of Wollongong
Boreas | Year: 2011

Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of coarse-grained quartz is increasingly being used as the main chronological tool in late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of Siberia. However, relatively little information has been published on the suitability of OSL dating for the various types of perennially frozen sediments found in this region. Here we provide a systematic examination of the quartz luminescence characteristics of 21 perennially frozen samples from the Taimyr Peninsula and adjacent coastal lowlands of north-central Siberia, and discuss their implications for the reliability of single-grain and multi-grain OSL chronologies in such contexts. The results of this study suggest that the quartz luminescence characteristics of these samples are, in principle, favourable for OSL dating but, in practice, require that a series of validation checks are made of the chosen experimental conditions. If these tests are satisfied, then reliable OSL chronologies should be obtained for sedimentary deposits in this region. Importantly, however, the single-grain and multi-grain aliquot equivalent dose (De) distribution characteristics for our samples reveal that there are advantages in targeting certain types of depositional settings for OSL dating studies of Siberian sediments. We also show that samples from the same depositional settings, and even from the same sites, do not necessarily display similar De distribution characteristics. The latter complication favours the use of single-grain analysis to unravel the bleaching and burial histories of young (mid- to late Holocene) sediments in these Arctic environments. © 2011 The Author. Boreas © 2011 The Boreas Collegium.


Hartland A.,University of Waikato | Fairchild I.J.,University of Birmingham | Muller W.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Dominguez-Villar D.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta | Year: 2014

We report the first quantitative study of the capture of colloidal natural organic matter (NOM) and NOM-complexed trace metals (V, Co, Cu, Ni) in speleothems. This study combines published NOM-metal dripwater speciation measurements with high-resolution laser ablation ICPMS (LA-ICPMS) and sub-annual stable isotope ratio (δ18O and δ13C), fluorescence and total organic carbon (TOC) analyses of a fast-growing hyperalkaline stalagmite (pH ~11) from Poole's Cavern, Derbyshire UK, which formed between 1997 and 2008 AD. We suggest that the findings reported here elucidate trace element variations arising from colloidal transport and calcite precipitation rate changes observed in multiple, natural speleothems deposited at ca. pH 7-8. We find that NOM-metal(aq) complexes on the boundary between colloidal and dissolved (~1nm diameter) show an annual cyclicity which is inversely correlated with the alkaline earth metals and is explained by calcite precipitation rate changes (as recorded by kinetically-fractionated stable isotopes). This relates to the strength of the NOM-metal complexation reaction, resulting in very strongly bound metals (Co in this system) essentially recording NOM co-precipitation (ternary complexation). More specifically, empirical partition coefficient (Kd) values between surface-reactive metals (V, Co, Cu, Ni) [expressed as ratio of trace element to Ca ratios in calcite and in solution] arise from variations in the 'free' fraction of total metal in aqueous solution (fm). Hence, differences in the preservation of each metal in calcite can be explained quantitatively by their complexation behaviour with aqueous NOM. Differences between inorganic Kd values and field measurements for metal partitioning into calcite occur where [free metal]≪[total metal] due to complexation reactions between metals and organic ligands (and potentially inorganic colloids). It follows that where fm≈0, apparent inorganic Kd app values are also ≈0, but the true partition coefficient (Kd actual) is significantly higher. Importantly, the Kd of NOM-metal complexes [organic carbon-metal ratio) approaches 1 for the most stable aqueous complexes, as is shown here for Co, but has values of 24-150 for V, Ni and Cu. This implies that ternary surface complexation (metal-ligand co-adsorption) can occur (as for NOM-Co), but is the exception rather than the rule. We also demonstrate the potential for trace metals to record information on NOM composition as expressed through changing NOM-metal complexation patterns in dripwaters. Therefore, a suite of trace metals in stalagmites show variations clearly attributable to changes in organic ligand concentration and composition, and which potentially reflect the state of overlying surface ecosystems. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Xing S.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Martinon-Torres M.,National Research Center Sobre la Evolucion Humana | Bermudez De Castro J.M.,National Research Center Sobre la Evolucion Humana | Wu X.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology | Liu W.,CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2015

It is generally accepted that from the late Middle to the early Late Pleistocene (∼340-90 ka BP), Neanderthals were occupying Europe and Western Asia, whereas anatomically modern humans were present in the African continent. In contrast, the paucity of hominin fossil evidence from East Asia from this period impedes a complete evolutionary picture of the genus Homo, as well as assessment of the possible contribution of or interaction with Asian hominins in the evolution of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. Here we present a comparative study of a hominin dental sample recovered from the Xujiayao site, in Northern China, attributed to the early Late Pleistocene (MIS 5 to 4). Our dental study reveals a mosaic of primitive and derived dental features for the Xujiayao hominins that can be summarized as follows: i) they are different from archaic and recent modern humans, ii) they present some features that are common but not exclusive to the Neanderthal lineage, and iii) they retain some primitive conformations classically found in East Asian Early and Middle Pleistocene hominins despite their young geological age. Thus, our study evinces the existence in China of a population of unclear taxonomic status with regard to other contemporary populations such as H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis. The morphological and metric studies of the Xujiayao teeth expand the variability known for early Late Pleistocene hominin fossils and suggest the possibility that a primitive hominin lineage may have survived late into the Late Pleistocene in China. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


van der Made J.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Mateos A.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana
Quaternary International | Year: 2010

The study of the biogeography of large mammals may contribute to the understanding of human evolution, dispersal and technological or cultural abilities. The dispersal of Homo seems to have been conditioned by the availability of relatively open landscapes. Longstanding biogeographic patterns suggest that such habitats were available in an area extending from the north of Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia. Early Homo dispersed first into the open landscapes of Asia and later, like many other mammals, it dispersed from there into Western Europe, when environmental change allowed it to do so. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Duval M.,National Research Center Sobre la Evolucion Humana | Duval M.,Australian National University
Radiation Measurements | Year: 2015

In ESR dating of Early Pleistocene fossil tooth enamel samples, the fitting function used for the evaluation of the DE value is undoubtedly among the major sources of uncertainty. Dose recovery tests performed on fossil tooth enamel showing DE values >1,000 Gy demonstrate: (i) that high precision ESR measurements (<0.5%) and high DE reproducibility (<5%) may be achieved; (ii) the appropriateness of the Double Saturating Exponential (DSE) fitting function for ESR dose reconstruction. In contrast, the SSE function, which has been almost exclusively used so far, does simply not correctly describe the behavior of the radiation induced ESR signal of tooth enamel with the dose. Several fitting functions and data weighting options were tested and the combination of a DSE with data weighted by the inverse of the squared intensities is the procedure providing the most accurate DE results. However, the SSE may nevertheless sometimes produce consistent results if Dmax does not exceed 6∗DE. Further work is required in that direction in order to determine more precisely in which conditions the SSE could be used as a fair approximation of the DSE function for these samples. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bruner E.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana | Holloway R.L.,Columbia University
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2010

Within the genus Homo, the most encephalized taxa (Neandertals and modern humans) show relatively wider frontal lobes than either Homo erectus or australopithecines. The present analysis considers whether these changes are associated with a single size-based or allometric pattern (positive allometry of the width of the anterior endocranial fossa) or with a more specific and non-allometric pattern. The relationship between hemispheric length, maximum endocranial width, and frontal width at Broca's area was investigated in extant and extinct humans. Our results do not support positive allometry for the frontal lobe's width in relation to the main endocranial diameters within modern humans (Homo sapiens). Also, the correlation between frontal width and hemispheric length is lower than the correlation between frontal width and parieto-temporal width. When compared with the australopithecines, the genus Homo could have experienced a non-allometric widening of the brain at the temporo-parietal areas, which is most evident in Neandertals. Modern humans and Neandertals also display a non-allometric widening of the anterior endocranial fossa at the Broca's cap when compared with early hominids, again more prominent in the latter group. Taking into account the contrast between the intra-specific patterns and the between-species differences, the relative widening of the anterior fossa can be interpreted as a definite evolutionary character instead of a passive consequence of brain size increase. This expansion is most likely associated with correspondent increments of the underlying neural mass, or at least with a geometrical reallocation of the frontal cortical volumes. Although different structural changes of the cranial architecture can be related to such variations, the widening of the frontal areas is nonetheless particularly interesting when some neural functions (like language or working memory, decision processing, etc.) and related fronto-parietal cortico-cortical connections are taken into account. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Dennell R.W.,University of Sheffield | Martinon-Torres M.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana | Bermudez de Castro J.M.,National Research Center sobre la Evolucion Humana
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2011

We propose a population model for Middle Pleistocene Europe that is based on demographic " sources" and " sinks" The former were a small number of " core" or populations in glacial refugia in southern Europe from which hominins expanded northwards in interstadial and interglacial periods; occupation outside glacial refugia would have been restricted to warm or temperate periods, and populations at the northern limit of the Middle Pleistocene range would have been " sink" populations in that they depended upon recruitment from source populations further south. Southwest Asia would also have been a likely source of immigrant, source populations. We argue as an alternative to an " ebb and flow" model in which groups retreated to refugia when conditions worsened that local extinction outside refugia would have been frequent. In extreme situations, Europe may have been a population " sink" (i.e. unpopulated) that was replenished from source populations in Southwest Asia. We suggest that this pattern of repeated colonisation and extinction may help explain the morphological variability of European Middle Pleistocene hominins, particularly Homo heidelbergensis and its apparent non-lineal evolution towards Homo neanderthalensis. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


Duval M.,National Research Center sobre la evolucion humana | Falgueres C.,French Natural History Museum | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum
Quaternary Geochronology | Year: 2012

This paper presents a synthesis of the combined Uranium-Series/ESR age results obtained on fossil teeth from several Early Pleistocene archaeological and/or palaeontological Spanish localities: Atapuerca Gran Dolina TD-6, Fuente Nueva-3, Barranco León, Venta Micena and Vallparadís. While the age results show some scattering, they are nevertheless encouraging and provide a significant contribution to the understanding of the first hominin settlements in Western Europe.These " old" samples are mainly characterised by high 230Th/ 234U activity ratios that may sometimes exceed secular equilibrium, and by high Uranium concentrations (several tens of ppm or more). The modelling of U-uptake is therefore really crucial for the age calculation process. In the case of the combined US-ESR approach, this uptake is derived from the U-series data measured in dental tissues, which seem to be strongly dependant on the hydro-geological context. Consequently, when dating " old" samples, a special attention has to be paid to the accuracy and the meaning of the U-series data collected from the dental tissues, which may be influenced by several factors such as spatial heterogeneity and recent U-uptake overprint. Some rapid scanning procedures should be developed in order to pre-identify the samples that are the most suitable for ESR dating. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..

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