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Article Reference Multi-isotope analysis of bone collagen of Late Pleistocene ungulates reveals niche partitioning and behavioural plasticity of reindeer during MIS 3
Here we present stable carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotope ratios of collagen extracted from Rangifer, Equus and Bison bone (n = 128) from different stratigraphic levels at the chronologically well-constrained Middle and Upper Palaeolithic site of Les Cottés, France. Samples were taken from five phases of site use (US08, US06, US04 [upper and lower], and US02; ~ 45.8–35.3 ka cal BP) to explore the dietary and spatial palaeoecology of these ungulate species during MIS 3, and the contemporary climate. Temporal trends in δ15N values of all species broadly align with other climatic indicators at the site and the lowest values in US04 correspond to the Heinrich 4 cooling event, reflecting changes in the composition of soil/plant nitrogen at this time. Rangifer collagen is 13C-enriched compared to the other species throughout, consistent with lichen consumption. However, this isotopic niche partitioning between Rangifer and Equus/Bison is most extensive during US04, indicating plasticity in reindeer feeding behaviour, and potentially overall increased lichen biomass during this cooler/more arid phase. Rangifer δ34S values are consistently lower than Equus and Bison, which could be indicative of their more extensive spatial ranges incorporating greater inland areas. Equus and Bison demonstrate a significant decrease in δ34S values through time, which may be linked to contemporary climatic decline.
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
Article Reference A new pipid from the Cretaceous of Africa (In Becetèn, Niger) and early evolution of the Pipidae
Pipimorpha and its crown-group Pipidae possess one of the most extensive fossil records among anurans, known since the Early Cretaceous in both Laurasia and Gondwana. Pipimorph diversification may have been driven by the breakup of West Gondwana during the Cretaceous. Numerous fossils from South America have been unearthed in the last decade, documenting this event. Unfortunately, Cretaceous pipimorphs from Africa have been limited to a few wellpreserved taxa from sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, which hinders our comprehension of pipimorph diversification during this key period. The site of In Becetèn, in south-east Niger, is one of the few mid-Late Cretaceous (Coniacian–Santonian) sites from which a pipid, Pachycentrata taqueti, is known. Here, we describe and name a second pipid from the same locality. This taxon is known by a relatively complete braincase. Phylogenetic analyses confirm its position as a pipid, with pipinomorph affinities. This makes In Becetèn the oldest site with at least two pipids. Phylogenetic results are congruent with recent pipimorph relationships, with the presence of an endemic extinct clade in South America, Shelaniinae. The phylogenetic results also allow us to review the proposed definition for Pipimorpha and its subclades and propose new systematic definitions for them. Temporal calibration of the phylogenetic tree based on the fossil record suggests that pipimorphs diversified in a western Gondwana block and confirms that South America separated from Africa around the mid-Cretaceous. Between these two events, pipids diverged in Africa, giving rise to major extant clades. This study highlights the importance of Africa for early pipid diversification during the Cretaceous and of the opening of the Southern Atlantic Ocean for anuran dispersion and diversification.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023 OA
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 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
Book Reference Carte géologique de Wallonie : Tongeren - Herderen (34/5-6). 1/25.000 (+ notice explicative)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference OSL dating as an alternative tool for age determination of relic charcoal kilns
Chronometric studies of charcoal production remains are largely based on 14C-dating of associated charcoal. Owing to intrinsic limitations, however, this method provides no meaningful time resolution for post-1650 CE features. We investigate the potential of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of heated sandy sediments as an alternative and complementary tool for dating charcoal kiln remains. Seven samples from five relic charcoal kilns and 11 complementary samples from the underlying sandy substrate are used. Through a range of procedural tests, we demonstrate that the single-aliquot, regenerative-dose procedure in combination with OSL signals from quartz allows determining equivalent doses both accurately and precisely. For four of the five investigated kilns, OSL ages are consistent with independent age information from 14C-dating and written sources. Especially for post-1650 CE features, the precision can be significantly better than that of 14C-dating, and we highlight the potential of OSL dating for distinguishing, relatively, between charcoal production phases with an unprecedented time resolution. We conclude that the approach is a promising alternative to 14C.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
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 Early Byzantine fish consumption and trade revealed by archaeoichthyology and isotopic analysis at Sagalassos, Turkey
We document the dietary and economic role of fish at Sagalassos, a town in ancient Pisidia (southwest Turkey) for the Early Byzantine period (c. 550 – 700 CE) through a detailed analysis of animal bones and stable isotopes. The role of fish in the diet is quantified, for the first time, based on large samples of sieved remains retrieved during the excavation of a number of spaces in an urban residence. The table and kitchen refuse from the mansion shows that fish was a regular part of the diet. However, past isotopic work focused on human individuals excavated in the city’s necropolises, slightly postdating the faunal remains examined, did not reflect this consumption of aquatic food. The studied assemblage comprises at least 12 different fish taxa, including five marine species, a Nilotic fish and six Anatolian freshwater species. Since the origin of the freshwater fishes could not be unambiguously determined by zoogeography alone, we analyzed carbon, nitrogen and sulphur stable isotope ratios in archaeological fish bones from Sagalassos as well as in bones of modern fish collected at different sites in Turkey. We show that most freshwater fish, i.e., all cyprinid species, came from Lake Eğirdir. No evidence was found for fish from the local Aksu River basin. The exact origin of pike, which account for 3% of all freshwater fish, could not be directly determined due to a shortage of modern comparative data. Using the data obtained on the provenance of the fish, the ancient trade routes possibly used in the Early Byzantine period are reconstructed using a combination of archaeological, numismatic and historical data on past commercial relations.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Didelphodus caloris, new species (Mammalia, Cimolesta), from the Wasatchian Wa-0 fauna of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, Clarks Fork Basin, Wyoming
The Wasatchian Wa-0 mammalian fauna from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (earliest Eocene) is reasonably well sampled in North America, but mammals of small body size are still poorly known. Here we describe a new species of the insectivore Didelphodus based on a cranial rostrum, both dentaries, and a nearly complete upper and lower dentition, all found by screen-washing. The new species, D. caloris, is the oldest species of the genus known in North America. It differs from later early Eocene Didelphodus in being substantially smaller, in having relatively simple premolars, and in having a more reduced M3 relative to preceding molars. Precursors of Didelphodus are not known with certainty, and the species D. caloris may be an immigrant to mid-continent North America. D. caloris is tentatively interpreted as a dwarfed form like other Wa-0 mammals because of its small size relative to the better-known successor species D. absarokae.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023