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Zanolli C.,French Natural History Museum | Bondioli L.,Sezione di Antropologia | Mancini L.,SYRMEP Group | Mazurier A.,Societe Etudes Recherches Materiaux | And 3 more authors.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2012

Currently, the human deciduous dental record from the Pleistocene deposits of the Sangiran Dome, Java, consists of only eight specimens. Here we report two deciduous crowns collected near the village of Pucung. While their precise geo-chronological context remains unknown, a provenance from the Early-Middle Pleistocene Kabuh Formation, or from the Early Pleistocene "Grenzbank Zone," is very likely. These isolated specimens consist of an upper first molar (PCG.1) and a lower second molar (PCG.2). Taxonomic discrimination of the Indonesian tooth record is difficult because of the convergence in crown size and appearance between Pongo and Homo. Accordingly, as PCG.2 still bears a concretion masking most of its features, we coupled the outer analysis of the two specimens with an investigation of their inner morphology. In addition to external characteristics, virtual imaging and quantitative assessment of inner morphology and tissue proportions support an attribution to the taxon Homo, and we preliminary allocate both specimens toH. erectus. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Capocasa M.,Italian Institute of Technology | Capocasa M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Anagnostou P.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Anagnostou P.,Italian Institute of Technology | And 35 more authors.
Journal of Anthropological Sciences | Year: 2014

The animal and plant biodiversity of the Italian territory is known to be one of the richest in the Mediterranean basin and Europe as a whole, but does the genetic diversity of extant human populations show a comparable pattern? According to a number of studies, the genetic structure of Italian populations retains the signatures of complex peopling processes which took place from the Paleolithic to modern era. Although the observed patterns highlight a remarkable degree of genetic heterogeneity, they do not, however, take into account an important source of variation. In fact, Italy is home to numerous ethno-linguistic minorities which have yet to be studied systematically. Due to their difference in geographical origin and demographic history, such groups not only signal the cultural and social diversity of our country, but they are also potential contributors to its bio-anthropological heterogeneity. To fill this gap, research groups from four Italian Universities (Bologna, Cagliari, Pisa and Roma Sapienza) started a collaborative study in 2007, which was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and received partial support by the Istituto Italiano di Antropologia. In this paper, we present an account of the results obtained in the course of this initiative. Four case-studies relative to linguistic minorities from the Eastern Alps, Sardinia, Apennines and Southern Italy are first described and discussed, focusing on their microevolutionary and anthropological implications. Thereafter, we present the results of a systematic analysis of the relations between linguistic, geographic and genetic isolation. Integrating the data obtained in the course of the long-term study with literature and unpublished results on Italian populations, we show that a combination of linguistic and geographic factors is probably responsible for the presence of the most robust signatures of genetic isolation. Finally, we evaluate the magnitude of the diversity of Italian populations in the European context. The human genetic diversity of our country was found to be greater than observed throughout the continent at short (0-200 km) and intermediate (700-800km) distances, and accounted for most of the highest values of genetic distances observed at all geographic ranges. Interestingly, an important contribution to this pattern comes from the “linguistic islands” (e.g. German speaking groups of Sappada and Luserna from the Eastern Italian Alps), further proof of the importance of considering social and cultural factors when studying human genetic variation. © 2014, Istituto Italiano di Antropologia. All rights reserved.

Bondioli L.,Sezione di Antropologia | Bayle P.,UMR 7194 | Bayle P.,University College London | Dean C.,University College London | And 10 more authors.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2010

Qualitative and quantitative characterization through functional imaging of mineralized tissues is of potential value in the study of the odontoskeletal remains. This technique, widely developed in the medical field, allows the bi-dimensional, planar representation of some local morphometric properties, i.e., topographic thickness variation, of a three-dimensional object, such as a long bone shaft. Nonetheless, the use of morphometric maps is still limited in (paleo)anthropology, and their feasibility has not been adequately tested on fossil specimens. Using high-resolution microtomographic images, here we apply bi-dimensional virtual "unrolling" and synthetic thickness mapping techniques to compare cortical bone topographic variation across the shaft in a modern and a fossil human adult femur (the Magdalenian from Chancelade). We also test, for the first time, the possibility to virtually unroll and assess for dentine thickness variation in modern and fossil (the Neanderthal child from Roc de Marsal) human deciduous tooth roots. The analyses demonstrate the feasibility of using two-dimensional morphometric maps for the synthetic functional imaging and comparative biomechanical interpretation of cortical bone thickness variation in extant and fossil specimens and show the interest of using this technique also for the subtle characterization of root architecture and dentine topography. More specifically, our preliminary results support the use of virtual cartography as a tool for assessing to what extent internal root morphology is capable of responding to loading and directional stresses and strains in a predictable way. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Puymerail L.,French Natural History Museum | Puymerail L.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Ruff C.B.,Johns Hopkins University | Bondioli L.,Sezione di Antropologia | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2012

The biomechanical characterization of lower limb long bones in the chrono-ecogeographically diverse species Homo erectus is a fundamental step for assessing evolutionary changes in locomotor mode and body shape that occurred within the genus Homo. However, the samples available for the Early and earlier Middle Pleistocene are small and widely scattered in time and space, thus limiting our understanding of the nature and polarity of morphological trends. Compared to the African fossil record, loading histories based on detailed biomechanical assessment of diaphyseal strength in Indonesian H. erectus lower limb long bones have not been assessed. By using a microtomographic record (μCT), we performed a quantitative analysis of the biomechanical properties and structural organization of Kresna 11, a late Early Pleistocene adult H. erectus femoral shaft from the Sangiran Dome, Central Java. Relative to the modern human condition, Kresna 11 shows the predominant mediolateral cortical thickening (hypertrophy) and the distal displacement of the minimum diaphyseal breadth characteristic of early Homo femora, associated nonetheless with relatively modest cortical thickness within the mid-proximal portion. Synthetic functional imaging of the shaft through the planar representation of its inner structure has revealed distal thickening of the medial cortex, a feature previously unreported in H. erectus. The increase in relative mediolateral bending strength observed in Kresna 11 supports the hypothesis that, rather than simply reflecting differences in patterns of locomotor loading, biomechanical properties of the femoral shaft in archaic Homo are strongly influenced by body shape, i.e., variations in pelvic breadth and femoral neck length. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Schwartz J.H.,University of Pittsburgh | Houghton F.,Veterans Research Foundation | Macchiarelli R.,French Natural History Museum | Macchiarelli R.,University of Poitiers | Bondioli L.,Sezione di Antropologia
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Two types of cemeteries occur at Punic Carthage and other Carthaginian settlements: one centrally situated housing the remains of older children through adults, and another at the periphery of the settlement (the "Tophet") yielding small urns containing the cremated skeletal remains of very young animals and humans, sometimes comingled. Although the absence of the youngest humans at the primary cemeteries is unusual and worthy of discussion, debate has focused on the significance of Tophets, especially at Carthage, as burial grounds for the young. One interpretation, based on two supposed eye-witness reports of large-scale Carthaginian infant sacrifice [Kleitarchos (3rd c. BCE) and Diodorus Siculus (1st c. BCE)], a particular translation of inscriptions on some burial monuments, and the argument that if the animals had been sacrificed so too were the humans, is that Tophets represent burial grounds reserved for sacrificial victims. An alternative hypothesis acknowledges that while the Carthaginians may have occasionally sacrificed humans, as did their contemporaries, the extreme youth of Tophet individuals suggests these cemeteries were not only for the sacrificed, but also for the very young, however they died. Here we present the first rigorous analysis of the largest sample of cremated human skeletal remains (348 burial urns, N = 540 individuals) from the Carthaginian Tophet based on tooth formation, enamel histology, cranial and postcranial metrics, and the potential effects of heat-induced bone shrinkage. Most of the sample fell within the period prenatal to 5-to-6 postnatal months, with a significant presence of prenates. Rather than indicating sacrifice as the agent of death, this age distribution is consistent with modern-day data on perinatal mortality, which at Carthage would also have been exacerbated by numerous diseases common in other major cities, such as Rome and Pompeii. Our diverse approaches to analyzing the cremated human remains from Carthage strongly support the conclusion that Tophets were cemeteries for those who died shortly before or after birth, regardless of the cause. © 2010 Schwartz et al.

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