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Article Reference Predicting the evolution of the Lassa virus endemic area and population at risk over the next decades
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Article Reference Evolution and Diversity of Bat and Rodent Paramyxoviruses from North America
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Article Reference The first species of Hapalodectes (Mesonychia, Mammalia) from the Middle Paleocene of China (Qianshan Basin, Anhui Province) sheds light on the initial radiation of hapalodectids
A lower jaw of the mesonychian Hapalodectes is reported from Nongshanian sediments (Upper Doumu Formation; middle Paleocene) of the Qianshan Basin (Anhui Province, China). The fragmentary mandible is only the third specimen of Hapalodectidae discovered in Paleocene deposits, and the first in south east China; it is moreover the oldest, the two other specimens having been found in Gashatan (late Paleocene) localities. The premolars and molars of the new fossil are morphologically similar to Hapalodectes dux (late Paleocene of Mongolia), which has been considered to be the most primitive hapalodectid, but their relative proportions recall H. paleocenus and the Eocene Hapalodectes species. As a result, the fossil described herein appears to be different from the other previously described species of Hapalodectes in being morphologically intermediate between H. dux and the other Hapalodectes species, notably the Bumbanian Hapalodectes hetangensis and H. huanghaiensis from China; it is thus identified as a new species, Hapalodectes lopatini (possibly a male individual). Its discovery is important because it sheds light on the initial radiation of hapalodectids. The presence of one primitive hapalodectid in Mongolia previously suggested the Mongolian Plateau as the centre of origination of this carnivorous family, but the discovery of H. lopatini in older sediments from south-east China challenges this hypothesis. In the earliest Eocene, Hapalodectes dispersed from Asia to North America; this event being part of the ‘East of Eden’ dispersals. This event resulted in the geographical separation of two distinct Hapalodectes groups, in North America and south-eastern China respectively.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Article Reference Environmental and climatic reconstruction of MIS 3 in northwestern Europe using the small-mammal assemblage from Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Hastière-Lavaux, Belgium)
Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3, ca. 60–30 ka) is characterized by dynamic alternations of forest expansion with semi-arid area expansion in accordance with the warming and cooling, respectively, of the sea-surface temperatures in Northern Europe. It was in this context of rapid fluctuations that the terrestrial sequence of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Hastière-Lavaux, Belgium) in northwestern Europe was formed. The habitat weighting method and the bioclimaticmodel, as well as the Simpson diversity index, are applied to the small-mammal assemblage of CaverneMarie-Jeanne in order to reconstruct the environmental and climatic fluctuations that are reflected in the MIS 3 sequence of the cave. Revision of the small-mammal fossil material deposited in the collections of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS, Brussels, Belgium) shows that the lower layers (6 to 4) of the cave, pertaining to MIS 3 (ca. 50–40 ka), underwent cold, dry environmental and climatic conditions for these layers. This is indicated by temperatures lower than at present and precipitation slightly higher than at present, together with an environment dominated by openwoodland formations and open dry meadows. Our results are consistent with the available chronological, large-mammal, herpetofaunal and mollusc datasets for this lower part of the sequence. They are also consistentwith regional loess studies in Belgium andwith previouswork performed on small mammals from MIS 3 in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Article Reference Chicxulub impact winter sustained by fine silicate dust
The Chicxulub impact is thought to have triggered a global winter at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary 66 million years ago. Yet the climatic consequences of the various debris injected into the atmosphere following the Chicxulub impact remain unclear, and the exact killing mechanisms of the K-Pg mass extinction remain poorly constrained. Here we present palaeoclimate simulations based on sedimentological constraints from an expanded terrestrial K-Pg boundary deposit in North Dakota, United States, to evaluate the relative and combined effects of impact-generated silicate dust and sulfur, as well as soot from wildfires, on the post-impact climate. The measured volumetric size distribution of silicate dust suggests a larger contribution of fine dust (~0.8–8.0 μm) than previously appreciated. Our simulations of the atmospheric injection of such a plume of micrometre-sized silicate dust suggest a long atmospheric lifetime of 15yr, contributing to a global-average surface temperature falling by as much as 15°C. Simulated changes in photosynthetic active solar radiation support a dust-induced photosynthetic shut-down for almost 2 yr post-impact. We suggest that, together with additional cooling contributions from soot and sulfur, this is consistent with the catastrophic collapse of primary productivity in the aftermath of the Chicxulub impact.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023 OA
Article Reference Magical practices? A non-normative Roman imperial cremation at Sagalassos.
Many thousands of burials have been excavated from across the Roman world, documenting a variety of funerary practices and rites. Individual burials, however, sometimes stand out for their atypical characteristics. The authors report the discovery of a cremation burial from ancient Sagalassos that differs from contemporaneous funerary deposits. In this specific context, the cremated human remains were not retrieved but buried in situ, surrounded by a scattering of intentionally bent nails, and carefully sealed beneath a raft of tiles and a layer of lime. For each of these practices, textual and archaeological parallels can be found elsewhere in the ancient Mediterranean world, collectively suggesting that magical beliefs were at work.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference The human-initiated model of wolf domestication – an expansion based on human-dingo relations in Aboriginal Australia
The historically known relationship of interspecies companionship between Aboriginal foraging communities in Australia and free-ranging dingoes provides a model for understanding the human-canid relations that gave rise to the first domesticated dogs. Here, we propose that a broadly similar relationship might have developed early in time between wild-living wolves and mobile groups of foragers in Late Pleistocene Eurasia, with hunter-gatherers routinely raiding wild wolf dens for pre-weaned pups, which were socialized to humans and kept in camp as tamed companions (“pets”). We outline a model in which captive wolf pups that reverted to the wild to breed when they were sexually mature established their territories in the vicinity of foraging communities — in a “liminal” ecological zone between humans and truly wild-living wolves. Many (or most) of the wolf pups humans took from the wilderness to rear in camp may have derived from these liminal dens where the breeding pairs had been under indirect human selection for tameness over many generations. This highlights the importance of the large seasonal hunting/aggregation camps associated with mammoth kill-sites in Gravettian/Epigravettian central Europe. Large numbers of foragers gathered regularly at these locations during the wild wolf birthing season. We infer that if a pattern of this kind occurred over long periods of time then there might have been a pronounced effect on genetic variation in free-ranging wolves that denned and whelped in the liminal zones in the vicinity of these human seasonal aggregation sites. The argument is not that wolves were domesticated in central Europe. Rather, it is this pattern of hunter-gatherers who caught and reared wild wolf pups gathering seasonally in large numbers that might have been the catalyst for the early changes leading to the first domesticated dogs — whether in western Eurasia or further afield.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference From fossils to mind
Fossil endocasts record features of brains from the past: size, shape, vasculature, and gyrification. These data, alongside experimental and comparative evidence, are needed to resolve questions about brain energetics, cognitive specializations, and developmental plasticity. Through the application of interdisciplinary techniques to the fossil record, paleoneurology has been leading major innovations. Neuroimaging is shedding light on fossil brain organization and behaviors. Inferences about the development and physiology of the brains of extinct species can be experimentally investigated through brain organoids and transgenic models based on ancient DNA. Phylogenetic comparative methods integrate data across species and associate genotypes to phenotypes, and brains to behaviors. Meanwhile, fossil and archeological discoveries continuously contribute new knowledge. Through cooperation, the scientific community can accelerate knowledge acquisition. Sharing digitized museum collections improves the availability of rare fossils and artifacts. Comparative neuroanatomical data are available through online databases, along with tools for their measurement and analysis. In the context of these advances, the paleoneurological record provides ample opportunity for future research. Biomedical and ecological sciences can benefit from paleoneurology’s approach to understanding the mind as well as its novel research pipelines that establish connections between neuroanatomy, genes and behavior.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Palaeopathological and demographic data reveal conditions of keeping of the ancient baboons at Gabbanat el-Qurud (Thebes, Egypt)
Since predynastic times, baboons (Papio hamadryas and Papio anubis) were important in ancient Egypt for ritual and religious purposes. These species did not occur naturally in Egypt and therefore had to be imported, but little is known about their exact provenance and the conditions in which they were kept through time. Here, we analyse the skeletal remains of a collection of baboon mummies coming from Thebes (Egypt), representing a minimum of 36 individuals, from a palaeopathological and demographic point of view. The pathological cases are described, figured where relevant, and the discussion attempts to understand their aetiology. The prevalence of the different types of deformations and pathologies is compared with that of other captive baboon populations from more or less contemporary (Tuna el-Gebel and Saqqara) or older (predynastic Hierakonpolis) sites. This is combined with observations on the age and sex distribution and the proportion of hamadryas and anubis baboons to draw conclusions about the conditions of keeping, possible breeding on-site, provenance of the animals and the trade routes used for import. As in Tuna el-Gebel and Saqqara, the baboons from Gabbanat el-Qurud suffered from numerous metabolic diseases due to chronic lack of sunlight and an unbalanced diet. This and the demographic data suggest that there was a local breeding population derived from animals captured downstream from the Sudanese Nile Valley (for anubis) and from the Horn of Africa or the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula (for hamadryas). A new series of radiocarbon dates is provided, placing the baboons from Gabbanat el-Qurud between the end of the Third Intermediate Period and the beginning of the Late Period.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023