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Article Reference New mtDNA and Isotopic Evidence on Late Pleistocene Cave Bears in the Balkans: the Case-study of Magura Cave, NW Bulgaria
Recent genetic studies have shed light on the phylogeography of cave bears; however, their paleoecology and their diet are still debated, and data from south-eastern Europe are still scarce. Magura Cave, in northwest Bulgaria, has delivered rich faunal assemblages from the Late Pleistocene. The chronology of the excavated area spans from ca. 35 kya to more than 50 kya; the oldest stratigraphic layers being associated with final Middle Palaeolithic tools. The fauna comprises herbivores and carnivores, and potentially different taxa of cave bears, the dental remains of which also showed different tooth morphotypes, suggesting the co-existence of different dietary adaptations. We investigated the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages of the cave bears from Magura Cave as well as the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope composition of the faunal assemblage. Our data revealed that, regardless of the tooth morphotypes, only maternal lineages of Ursus ingressus were present in Magura Cave. Interestingly, one specimen with Ursus arctos mtDNA was also found, showing a clear carnivore diet. In contrast, the U. ingressus specimens had a predominantly herbivorous diet. The tooth morphotypes were associated with significantly different δ13C values, suggesting different dietary adaptations.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Inproceedings Reference Using ancient DNA to identify Bos primigenius in ancient cattle remains from Belgium
Aurochs (Bos primigenius) are the wild ancestors of the domesticated taurine cattle (Bos taurus). During the Holocene, populations of aurochs gradually declined until their extinction at the turn of the 17th century. DNA data suggest that domestic cattle in Europe descended from Near East aurochs that were domesticated and brought to Europe by the first farmers during the Neolithic period. Hybridization occurred more recently in Europe between domestic cattle and local wild aurochs. Most aurochs can be distinguished from domestic cattle osteometrically, but large-sized domestic cattle may be misidentified as aurochs. Based on mitochondrial DNA, most European aurochs differ from domestic cattle (haplogroup “P” versus “T”). With the aim to provide new data on the former distribution of aurochs in Europe, we used mitochondrial DNA to identify large bovid bones attributed to aurochs and dating from Epipaleolithic to medieval times. DNA was extracted from the bones of 11 specimens from Belgium in an ancient DNA lab. Shotgun DNA sequencing provided raw reads comprising 0.02-10% of endogenous DNA. For three samples, reads covered 74-98% of the bovid mitochondrial genome and enabled the identification of one aurochs from the Bronze Age (haplogroup “P”) and two cows from Roman and medieval times (haplogroup “T”). Among the other samples (covering 2-18% of the mitogenome), three Roman specimens could be assigned to the haplogroup “T” based on a few diagnostic positions. This study provides the first mitogenomic data for a Belgian aurochs and contributes to the identification of exceptionally large Roman bovid remains.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference An interdisciplinary study around the reliquary of the late cardinal Jacques de Vitry
The reliquary of Jacques de Vitry, a prominent clergyman and theologian in the early 13th century, has experienced several transfers over the last centuries, which seriously question the attribution of the remains to the late Cardinal. Uncertainty about the year of his birth poses an additional question regarding his age at death in 1240. The reliquary, located in the Saint Marie d’Oigines church, Belgium, was reopened in 2015 for an interdisciplinary study around his relics as well as the Treasure of Oignies, a remarkable cultural heritage notably built from Jacques de Vitry’s donation. Anthropological, isotopic and genetic analyses were performed independently on the remains found in the reliquary. Results of the analyses provided evidence that the likelihood that these remains are those of Jacques de Vitry is very high: the remains belong to the same human male individual and the historical tradition about his age is confirmed. In addition, a separate relic (left tibia) was analysed and found to match with the remains of the reliquary (right tibia). The unique Jacques de Vitry’s mitre, made of parchment, was sampled non-destructively and the extracted parchment collagen was analysed by a proteomic method in order to determine the animal species. The results showed that, surprisingly, not all parts of the mitre were made from the same species. All together, these findings are expected to fertilize knowledge carried by historical tradition around the relics of Jacques de Vitry and his related cultural heritage.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference Macroevolutionary analysis of the tempo of diversification in snappers and fusiliers (Percomorpha: Lutjanidae)
Located in Associated publications / Belgian Journal of Zoology / Bibliographic References
Article Reference Uncertainty assessment applied to marine subsurface datasets
A recently released voxel model quantifying aggregate resources of the Belgian part of the North Sea includes lithological properties of all Quaternary sediments and modelling-related uncertainty. As the underlying borehole data come from various sources and cover a long time-span, data-related uncertainties should be accounted for as well. Applying a tiered data-uncertainty assessment to a composite lithology dataset with uniform, standardized lithological descriptions and rigorously completed metadata fields, uncertainties were qualified and quantified for positioning, sampling and vintage. The uncertainty on horizontal positioning combines navigational errors, on-board and off-deck offsets and underwater drift. Sampling-gear uncertainty evaluates the suitability of each instrument in terms of its efficiency of sediment yield per lithological class. Vintage uncertainty provides a likelihood of temporal change since the moment of sampling, using the mobility of fine-scale bedforms as an indicator. For each uncertainty component, quality flags from 1 (very uncertain) to 5 (very certain) were defined and converted into corresponding uncertainty percentages meeting the input requirements of the voxel model. Obviously, an uncertainty-based data selection procedure, aimed at improving the confidence of data products, reduces data density. Whether or not this density reduction is detrimental to the spatial coverage of data products, will depend on their intended use. At the very least, demonstrable reductions in spatial coverage will help to highlight the need for future data acquisition and to optimize survey plans. By opening up our subsurface model with associated data uncertainties in a public decision support application, policy makers and other end users are better able to visualize overall confidence and identify areas with insufficient coverage meeting their needs. Having to work with a borehole dataset that is increasingly limited with depth below the seabed, engineering geologists and geospatial analysts in particular will profit from a better visualization of datarelated uncertainty.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020
Article Reference Metagenomic analysis of dental calculus in ancient Egyptian baboons
Dental calculus, or mineralized plaque, represents a record of ancient biomolecules and food residues. Recently, ancient metagenomics made it possible to unlock the wealth of microbial and dietary information of dental calculus to reconstruct oral microbiomes and lifestyle of humans from the past. Although most studies have so far focused on ancient humans, dental calculus is known to form in a wide range of animals, potentially informing on how human-animal interactions changed the animals’ oral ecology. Here, we characterise the oral microbiome of six ancient Egyptian baboons held in captivity during the late Pharaonic era (9th–6th centuries BC) and of two historical baboons from a zoo via shotgun metagenomics. We demonstrate that these captive baboons possessed a distinctive oral microbiome when compared to ancient and modern humans, Neanderthals and a wild chimpanzee. These results may reflect the omnivorous dietary behaviour of baboons, even though health, food provisioning and other factors associated with human management, may have changed the baboons’ oral microbiome. We anticipate our study to be a starting point for more extensive studies on ancient animal oral microbiomes to examine the extent to which domestication and human management in the past affected the diet, health and lifestyle of target animals.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Book Reference An illustrated guide to the land snails and slugs of Vietnam
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Inproceedings Reference Authenticating fish and seafood products for sale on the Belgian market
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Inproceedings Reference Aliens in Europe
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Inproceedings Reference The use of DNA barcoding to improve the taxonomy of Afrotropical hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017