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Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, France

Zanolli C.,Abdus Salam International Center For Theoretical Physics | Bondioli L.,Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini | Coppa A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Dean C.M.,University College London | And 16 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2014

Fieldwork performed during the last 15 years in various Early Pleistocene East African sites has significantly enlarged the fossil record of Homo erectus sensu lato (s.l.). Additional evidence comes from the Danakil Depression of Eritrea, where over 200 late Early to early Middle Pleistocene sites have been identified within a ~1000m-thick sedimentary succession outcropping in the Dandiero Rift Basin, near Buia. Along with an adult cranium (UA 31), which displays a blend of H.erectus-like and derived morpho-architectural features and three pelvic remains, two isolated permanent incisors (UA 222 and UA 369) have also been recovered from the 1Ma (millions of years ago) Homo-bearing outcrop of Uadi Aalad. Since 2010, our surveys have expanded to the nearby (4.7km) site of Mulhuli-Amo (MA). This is a fossiliferous area that has been preliminarily surveyed because of its exceptional concentration of Acheulean stone tools. So far, the site has yielded 10 human remains, including the unworn crown of a lower permanent molar (MA 93). Using diverse analytical tools (including high resolution μCT and μMRI), we analysed the external and internal macromorphology and microstructure of the three specimens, and whenever possible compared the results with similar evidence from early Homo, H.erectus s.l., H.antecessor, H.heidelbergensis (from North Africa), Neanderthals and modern humans. We also assessed the UA 369 lower incisor from Uadi Aalad for root completion timing and showed that it compares well with data for root apex closure in modern human populations. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Michel V.,CNRS Prehistoric, Antique and Middle Age Studies | Shen G.,Nanjing Normal University | Shen C.-C.,National Taiwan University | Wu C.-C.,National Taiwan University | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Refined radio-isotopic dating techniques have been applied to Orgnac 3, a Late Acheulean and Early Middle Palaeolithic site in France. Evidence of Levallois core technology appeared in level 4b in the middle of the sequence, became predominant in the upper horizons, and was best represented in uppermost level 1, making the site one of the oldest examples of Levallois technology. In our dating study, fourteen speleothem samples from levels 7, 6 and 5b, were U/Th-dated. Four pure calcite samples from the speleothem PL1 (levels 5b, 6) yield ages between 265 ± 4 (PL1-3) and 312 ± 15 (PL1-6) thousand years ago (ka). Three samples from the top of a second stalagmite, PL2, yield dates ranging from 288 ± 10 ka (PL2-1) to 298 ± 17 ka (PL2-3). Three samples from the base of PL2 (level 7) yield much younger U/Th dates between 267 and 283 ka. These dates show that the speleothems PL1 and PL2 are contemporaneous and formed during marine isotope stage (MIS) 9 and MIS 8. Volcanic minerals in level 2, the upper sequence, were dated by the 40Ar/39Ar method, giving a weighted mean of 302.9 ± 2.5 ka (2Σ) and an inverse isochron age of 302.9 ± 5.9 ka (2Σ). Both 40Ar/39Ar dating of volcanic sanidines and U/Th dating of relatively pure and dense cave calcites are known to be well established. The first parallel application of the two geochronometers to Orgnac 3 yields generally consistent results, which point to the reliability of the two methods. The difference between their age results is discussed. © 2013 Michel et al.

Volpato V.,Senckenberg Institute | Macchiarelli R.,UMR 7194 | Macchiarelli R.,University of Poitiers | Guatelli-Steinberg D.,Ohio State University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

We describe and analyze a Neandertal postcranial skeleton and dentition, which together show unambiguous signs of right-handedness. Asymmetries between the left and right upper arm in Regourdou 1 were identified nearly 20 years ago, then confirmed by more detailed analyses of the inner bone structure for the clavicle, humerus, radius and ulna. The total pattern of all bones in the shoulder and arm reveals that Regourdou 1 was a right-hander. Confirmatory evidence comes from the mandibular incisors, which display a distinct pattern of right oblique scratches, typical of right-handed manipulations performed at the front of the mouth. Regourdou's right handedness is consistent with the strong pattern of manual lateralization in Neandertals and further confirms a modern pattern of left brain dominance, presumably signally linguistic competence. These observations along with cultural, genetic and morphological evidence indicate language competence in Neandertals and their European precursors. © 2012 Volpato et al.

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.

The present study of three human upper deciduous molars from the early Middle Pleistocene site of Tighenif, Algeria, constitutes the first microtomographic-based endostructural exploration of African fossil teeth likely representative of the Homo heidelbergensis morph. Comparative morphological observations and 2-3D measurements describing subtle tooth organization (crown tissue proportions) and enamel thickness topography (site-specific distribution and global patterning) indicate that their virtual extracted structural signature better fits the modern human, rather than the Neanderthal condition. Accordingly, we predict that the inner structural morphology of the deciduous molars from the Middle Pleistocene western European series better fits the primitive, and not the derived Neanderthal figures. © 2010 Académie des sciences.

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