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Drucker D.G.,University of Tübingen | Vercoutere C.,French Natural History Museum | Chiotti L.,French Natural History Museum | Chiotti L.,Musee Of Labri Pataud | And 11 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) was an emblematic and key species of the so-called mammoth steppe ecosystem between ca. 110,000 and 12,000 years ago. Its contribution to human subsistence during the Gravettian period as source of raw material was documented in southwestern France and southwestern Germany, with some evidence of active hunting in the latter region. However, decreasing genetic diversity and increasing indications of nutritional stress point to a likely decline of this megaherbivore. The specificity of the ecological niche occupied by the woolly mammoth is clearly reflected by their collagen 13C and 15N abundances (δ13Ccoll and δ15Ncoll), measured on skeletal remains of the typical mammoth steppe. The abundances of carbon-13 in mammoth collagen are comparable to those of other grazers like horse (Equus sp.), while the nitrogen-15 abundances are significantly higher (about 3‰) than in the other herbivores, either horse or reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). During the Aurignacian and Gravettian occupation at Geißenklösterle in the Ach Valley (Germany), the mammoths had the expected stable isotope signature, but the nitrogen-15 of horses showed an unexpected overlap with those of the mammoth. This unusual pattern was already occurring during the Aurignacian, while the oxygen-18 abundances in bone phosphate (δ18Obp) of horse and reindeer were unchanged between Aurignacian and Gravettian periods, which rules out significant change in environmental and climatic conditions. Thus, we hypothesize that during the Aurignacian and Gravettian, the ecological niche of mammoth was intact but not occupied intensively by mammoths due to a decline in their population. This decline could be tentatively explained by human pressure through hunting. In Dordogne (France), decreasing horse and reindeer δ15Ncoll values coeval to decreasing horse δ18Obp values between the Aurignacian and the Early Gravettian periods reflected a clear change in the environment, while no contrast in δ15Ncoll values was observed between the Early and Final Gravettian at the Abri Pataud. The mammoth of Dordogne yielded slightly higher δ15Ncoll values than expected, probably as a consequence of the nursing effect since all the analyzed samples were ivory instead of bone. The direct dating and sulphur-34 measurement on the ivory of the Early Gravettian at Pataud showed that almost all of them were of contemporaneous and local origin. Significant contrasts in δ34Scoll values were found between the Dordogne and the Ach Valley for the same herbivores species, which confirms the potential of sulphur-34 in collagen as a mobility tracker. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Uhl A.,Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment | Reyes-Centeno H.,Eberhard Karls University TubingenTubingenD 72070 Germany | Kranioti E.F.,University of Edinburgh | Harvati K.,Eberhard Karls University TubingenTubingenD 72070 Germany
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2016

Objectives: The morphology of the human bony labyrinth is thought to preserve a strong phylogenetic signal and to be minimally, if at all, affected by postnatal processes. The form of the semicircular canals is considered a derived feature of Neanderthals and different from the modern human anatomy. Among other hominins, European Middle Pleistocene humans have been found to be most similar to Neanderthals. Early modern humans have been proposed to show a pattern that is distinct, but most similar to that of Holocene people. Here we examine the inner ear structures of the Cioclovina calvaria, one of the earliest reliably dated and relatively complete modern human crania from Europe, in the context of recent and fossil human variation. Materials and Methods: Bony labyrinths were virtually extracted from CT scans of recent Europeans and Cioclovina. Using univariate and multivariate methods, measurements of the semicircular canals were compared with published measurements of other fossil specimens. Results: Our results show that Cioclovina's inner ear morphology falls within the range of modern variation, with affinities to both Late Pleistocene modern humans and recent Europeans. Using discriminant functions, the sex of the Cioclovina specimen is estimated as male. Discussion: Results agree with previous work showing that Cioclovina exhibits fully modern cranial morphology. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Troscher A.,Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment | Maier W.,University of Tübingen | Ruf I.,Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum | Hugot J.-P.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute | Bohme M.,Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2015

Earlier studies have shown that the epitensoric position of the chorda tympani is a systematically useful apomorphic character in some mammalian orders (primates, carnivores, rodents). Newly made histological serial sections of a fetal stage now reveal that Laonastes aenigmamus (Diatomyidae), a rodent species first described in 2005, is epitensoric as well. Because Ctenodactylus gundi is the only other taxon within the Ctenohystrica having this derived character state, we conclude that this is an additional synapomorphy substantiating a sister group relationship between Diatomyidae and Ctenodactylidae. © 2015 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.

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