Publications by authors named "Dorothée G Drucker"

31 Publications

Stable isotope evidence of human diet in Mediterranean context during the Last Glacial Maximum.

J Hum Evol 2021 Mar 19;154:102967. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Institute of Historical Research, University of Girona, Plaça Ferrater i Mora, 1, 17004, Catalonia, Spain.

The Final Gravettian in Europe overlapped with the cold and dry climatic event of Heinrich 2 (ca. 27-23.5 kyr cal BP), which caused the contraction of human distribution over refuge regions in the southern peninsulas of Europe. Here, we consider the human subsistence in the northeast Iberian Peninsula, where an extensive range of small to large prey was available. Four human remains from the Serinyà caves were investigated using the stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur of bulk collagen (δC, δN, δS) and of phenylalanine and glutamine amino acids (δN, δN). Direct AMS dating of the human and animal remains from the Final Gravettian levels of Mollet III, Reclau Viver, and Arbreda at Serinyà confirmed their chronological position from 27.5 to 22.6 kyr cal BP and the occurrence of four different human individuals. The δC and δN values showed a large contribution of terrestrial prey to the dietary protein of the individuals. The δS values were consistent with a subsistence based on the local continental resources, without detectable contribution of marine resource. The δN and δN values confirm that freshwater resources were not a substantial component of the diet of the considered individuals. Contrast in the isotopic amounts in bulk collagen could be interpreted as the result of different proportions of terrestrial prey in human diet at Serinyà. Altogether, the isotopic investigation reveals the importance of terrestrial over aquatic resources in the subsistence of the studied Final Gravettian individuals from the Serinyà caves in northeastern Iberia during the Last Glacial Maximum. It would be consistent with a scenario of a productive enough terrestrial ecosystem to sustain hunter-gatherer subsistence in this refuge region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.102967DOI Listing
March 2021

A refined proposal for the origin of dogs: the case study of Gnirshöhle, a Magdalenian cave site.

Sci Rep 2021 Mar 4;11(1):5137. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Institute for Archaeological Sciences, University of Tübingen, Rümelinstraße 23, 72070, Tübingen, Germany.

Dogs are known to be the oldest animals domesticated by humans. Although many studies have examined wolf domestication, the geographic and temporal origin of this process is still being debated. To address this issue, our study sheds new light on the early stages of wolf domestication during the Magdalenian period (16-14 ka cal BP) in the Hegau Jura region (Southwestern Germany and Switzerland). By combining morphology, genetics, and isotopes, our multidisciplinary approach helps to evaluate alternate processes driving the early phases of domestication. The isotope analysis uncovered a restricted, low δN protein diet for all analyzed Gnirshöhle specimens, while morphological examinations and phylogenetic relationships did not unequivocally assign them to one or the other canid lineage. Intriguingly, the newly generated mitochondrial canid genomes span the entire genetic diversity of modern dogs and wolves. Such high mitochondrial diversity could imply that Magdalenian people tamed and reared animals originating from different wolf lineages. We discuss our results in light of three ecological hypotheses and conclude that both domestication and the existence of a specialized wolf ecomorph are highly probable. However, due to their proximity to humans and a restricted diet, we propose domestication as the most likely scenario explaining the patterns observed herein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-83719-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7933181PMC
March 2021

Author Correction: Heavy reliance on plants for Romanian cave bears evidenced by amino acid nitrogen isotope analysis.

Sci Rep 2020 Oct 28;10(1):18805. Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Department of Geosciences, Biogeology, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75177-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7591857PMC
October 2020

Fox dietary ecology as a tracer of human impact on Pleistocene ecosystems.

PLoS One 2020 22;15(7):e0235692. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Institute for Scientific Archaeology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Nowadays, opportunistic small predators, such as foxes (Vulpes vulpes and Vulpes lagopus), are well known to be very adaptable to human modified ecosystems. However, the timing of the start of this phenomenon in terms of human impact on ecosystems and of the implications for foxes has hardly been studied. We hypothesize that foxes can be used as an indicator of past human impact on ecosystems, as a reflection of population densities and consequently to track back the influence of humans on the Pleistocene environment. To test this hypothesis, we used stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N) of bone collagen extracted from faunal remains from several archaeological sites located in the Swabian Jura (southwest Germany) and covering a time range over three important cultural periods, namely the Middle Palaeolithic (older than 42,000 years ago) attributed to Neanderthals, and the early Upper Palaeolithic periods Aurignacian and Gravettian (42,000 to 30,000 years ago) attributed to modern humans. We then ran Bayesian statistic systems (SIBER, mixSIAR) to reconstruct the trophic niches and diets of Pleistocene foxes. We observed that during the Middle Palaeolithic period, when Neanderthals sparsely populated the Swabian Jura, the niches occupied by foxes suggest a natural trophic behavior. In contrast, during the early Upper Palaeolithic periods, a new trophic fox niche appeared, characterized by a restricted diet on reindeer. This trophic niche could be due to the consumption of human subsidies related to a higher human population density and the resulting higher impact on the Pleistocene environment by modern humans compared to Neanderthals. Furthermore, our study suggests that, a synanthropic commensal behavior of foxes started already in the Aurignacian, around 42,000 years ago.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0235692PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375521PMC
September 2020

Heavy reliance on plants for Romanian cave bears evidenced by amino acid nitrogen isotope analysis.

Sci Rep 2020 04 20;10(1):6612. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

Department of Geosciences, Biogeology, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.

Heavy reliance on plants is rare in Carnivora and mostly limited to relatively small species in subtropical settings. The feeding behaviors of extinct cave bears living during Pleistocene cold periods at middle latitudes have been intensely studied using various approaches including isotopic analyses of fossil collagen. In contrast to cave bears from all other regions in Europe, some individuals from Romania show exceptionally high δN values that might be indicative of meat consumption. Herbivory on plants with high δN values cannot be ruled out based on this method, however. Here we apply an approach using the δN values of individual amino acids from collagen that offsets the baseline δN variation among environments. The analysis yielded strong signals of reliance on plants for Romanian cave bears based on the δN values of glutamate and phenylalanine. These results could suggest that the high variability in bulk collagen δN values observed among cave bears in Romania reflects niche partitioning but in a general trophic context of herbivory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62990-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7170912PMC
April 2020

Large-scale mitogenomic analysis of the phylogeography of the Late Pleistocene cave bear.

Sci Rep 2019 08 15;9(1):10700. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

Institute for Archaeological Sciences, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is one of the Late Pleistocene megafauna species that faced extinction at the end of the last ice age. Although it is represented by one of the largest fossil records in Europe and has been subject to several interdisciplinary studies including palaeogenetic research, its fate remains highly controversial. Here, we used a combination of hybridisation capture and next generation sequencing to reconstruct 59 new complete cave bear mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from 14 sites in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. In a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, we compared them to 64 published cave bear mtDNA sequences to reconstruct the population dynamics and phylogeography during the Late Pleistocene. We found five major mitochondrial DNA lineages resulting in a noticeably more complex biogeography of the European lineages during the last 50,000 years than previously assumed. Furthermore, our calculated effective female population sizes suggest a drastic cave bear population decline starting around 40,000 years ago at the onset of the Aurignacian, coinciding with the spread of anatomically modern humans in Europe. Thus, our study supports a potential significant human role in the general extinction and local extirpation of the European cave bear and illuminates the fate of this megafauna species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47073-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6695494PMC
August 2019

Adapt or die-Response of large herbivores to environmental changes in Europe during the Holocene.

Glob Chang Biol 2019 09 12;25(9):2915-2930. Epub 2019 Jul 12.

Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland.

Climate warming and human landscape transformation during the Holocene resulted in environmental changes for wild animals. The last remnants of the European Pleistocene megafauna that survived into the Holocene were particularly vulnerable to changes in habitat. To track the response of habitat use and foraging of large herbivores to natural and anthropogenic changes in environmental conditions during the Holocene, we investigated carbon (δ C) and nitrogen (δ N) stable isotope composition in bone collagen of moose (Alces alces), European bison (Bison bonasus) and aurochs (Bos primigenius) in Central and Eastern Europe. We found strong variations in isotope compositions in the studied species throughout the Holocene and diverse responses to changing environmental conditions. All three species showed significant changes in their δ C values reflecting a shift of foraging habitats from more open in the Early and pre-Neolithic Holocene to more forest during the Neolithic and Late Holocene. This shift was strongest in European bison, suggesting higher plasticity, more limited in moose, and the least in aurochs. Significant increases of δ N values in European bison and moose are evidence of a diet change towards more grazing, but may also reflect increased nitrogen in soils following deglaciation and global temperature increases. Among the factors explaining the observed isotope variations were time (age of samples), longitude and elevation in European bison, and time, longitude and forest cover in aurochs. None of the analysed factors explained isotope variations in moose. Our results demonstrate the strong influence of natural (forest expansion) and anthropogenic (deforestation and human pressure) changes on the foraging ecology of large herbivores, with forests playing a major role as a refugial habitat since the Neolithic, particularly for European bison and aurochs. We propose that high flexibility in foraging strategy was the key for survival of large herbivores in the changing environmental conditions of the Holocene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14733DOI Listing
September 2019

Prey-to-fox isotopic enrichment of S in bone collagen: Implications for paleoecological studies.

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 2019 Aug;33(16):1311-1317

Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) at Tuebingen University, Hölderlinstr. 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.

Rationale: The trophic enrichment factor (TEF) is a parameter reflecting the difference in isotopic ratio between a consumer's tissues and diet, used in isotopic ecology and paleoecology to track dietary habits. The TEF of sulfur is believed to be low, but was, until now, only documented in a limited number of taxa. In this study we use a subfossil accumulation of bones from a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) den to verify the TEF for sulfur in fox bone collagen.

Methods: Collagen was extracted from 30 samples of subfossil bones, including foxes and their prey. The δ S values of the bone collagen samples were measured with an elemental analyzer connected to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The TEF was calculated as [Δ S = (mean δ S in predator) - (mean δ S in prey)], using taphonomic indices to estimate the mean diet, and calculated separately for different age classes of the predator.

Results: We modeled 12 variants of TEF for different estimations of the diet composition and for three fox age classes (adult, subadult, and juvenile). The estimated TEF values range from -0.54 to +0.03‰ and are similar to TEFs known for other mammals. Absolute TEF values are nearly equal to or lower than the analytical error, which is ±0.4‰.

Conclusions: For the first time, we present direct δ S data for the bone collagen of a free-living predator and its naturally selected prey. Our results indicate very low or even slightly negative TEF values for sulfur. Furthermore, according to our results, the δ S value should not be considered a reliable indicator of trophic position in terrestrial food webs but rather, it should be used to disentangle different food webs based on different primary producers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rcm.8471DOI Listing
August 2019

Out of Africa by spontaneous migration waves.

PLoS One 2019 23;14(4):e0201998. Epub 2019 Apr 23.

Department of Geosciences, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Hominin evolution is characterized by progressive regional differentiation, as well as migration waves, leading to anatomically modern humans that are assumed to have emerged in Africa and spread over the whole world. Why or whether Africa was the source region of modern humans and what caused their spread remains subject of ongoing debate. We present a spatially explicit, stochastic numerical model that includes ongoing mutations, demic diffusion, assortative mating and migration waves. Diffusion and assortative mating alone result in a structured population with relatively homogeneous regions bound by sharp clines. The addition of migration waves results in a power-law distribution of wave areas: for every large wave, many more small waves are expected to occur. This suggests that one or more out-of-Africa migrations would probably have been accompanied by numerous smaller migration waves across the world. The migration waves are considered "spontaneous", as the current model excludes environmental or other extrinsic factors. Large waves preferentially emanate from the central areas of large, compact inhabited areas. During the Pleistocene, Africa was the largest such area most of the time, making Africa the statistically most likely origin of anatomically modern humans, without a need to invoke additional environmental or ecological drivers.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201998PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478371PMC
December 2019

Stable isotopes reveal patterns of diet and mobility in the last Neandertals and first modern humans in Europe.

Sci Rep 2019 03 14;9(1):4433. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Department of Geosciences, Biogeology, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstrasse 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.

Correlating cultural, technological and ecological aspects of both Upper Pleistocene modern humans (UPMHs) and Neandertals provides a useful approach for achieving robust predictions about what makes us human. Here we present ecological information for a period of special relevance in human evolution, the time of replacement of Neandertals by modern humans during the Late Pleistocene in Europe. Using the stable isotopic approach, we shed light on aspects of diet and mobility of the late Neandertals and UPMHs from the cave sites of the Troisième caverne of Goyet and Spy in Belgium. We demonstrate that their diet was essentially similar, relying on the same terrestrial herbivores, whereas mobility strategies indicate considerable differences between Neandertal groups, as well as in comparison to UPMHs. Our results indicate that UPMHs exploited their environment to a greater extent than Neandertals and support the hypothesis that UPMHs had a substantial impact not only on the population dynamics of large mammals but also on the whole structure of the ecosystem since their initial arrival in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41033-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6418202PMC
March 2019

The genomic history of southeastern Europe.

Authors:
Iain Mathieson Songül Alpaslan-Roodenberg Cosimo Posth Anna Szécsényi-Nagy Nadin Rohland Swapan Mallick Iñigo Olalde Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht Francesca Candilio Olivia Cheronet Daniel Fernandes Matthew Ferry Beatriz Gamarra Gloria González Fortes Wolfgang Haak Eadaoin Harney Eppie Jones Denise Keating Ben Krause-Kyora Isil Kucukkalipci Megan Michel Alissa Mittnik Kathrin Nägele Mario Novak Jonas Oppenheimer Nick Patterson Saskia Pfrengle Kendra Sirak Kristin Stewardson Stefania Vai Stefan Alexandrov Kurt W Alt Radian Andreescu Dragana Antonović Abigail Ash Nadezhda Atanassova Krum Bacvarov Mende Balázs Gusztáv Hervé Bocherens Michael Bolus Adina Boroneanţ Yavor Boyadzhiev Alicja Budnik Josip Burmaz Stefan Chohadzhiev Nicholas J Conard Richard Cottiaux Maja Čuka Christophe Cupillard Dorothée G Drucker Nedko Elenski Michael Francken Borislava Galabova Georgi Ganetsovski Bernard Gély Tamás Hajdu Veneta Handzhyiska Katerina Harvati Thomas Higham Stanislav Iliev Ivor Janković Ivor Karavanić Douglas J Kennett Darko Komšo Alexandra Kozak Damian Labuda Martina Lari Catalin Lazar Maleen Leppek Krassimir Leshtakov Domenico Lo Vetro Dženi Los Ivaylo Lozanov Maria Malina Fabio Martini Kath McSweeney Harald Meller Marko Menđušić Pavel Mirea Vyacheslav Moiseyev Vanya Petrova T Douglas Price Angela Simalcsik Luca Sineo Mario Šlaus Vladimir Slavchev Petar Stanev Andrej Starović Tamás Szeniczey Sahra Talamo Maria Teschler-Nicola Corinne Thevenet Ivan Valchev Frédérique Valentin Sergey Vasilyev Fanica Veljanovska Svetlana Venelinova Elizaveta Veselovskaya Bence Viola Cristian Virag Joško Zaninović Steve Zäuner Philipp W Stockhammer Giulio Catalano Raiko Krauß David Caramelli Gunita Zariņa Bisserka Gaydarska Malcolm Lillie Alexey G Nikitin Inna Potekhina Anastasia Papathanasiou Dušan Borić Clive Bonsall Johannes Krause Ron Pinhasi David Reich

Nature 2018 03 21;555(7695):197-203. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

Farming was first introduced to Europe in the mid-seventh millennium bc, and was associated with migrants from Anatolia who settled in the southeast before spreading throughout Europe. Here, to understand the dynamics of this process, we analysed genome-wide ancient DNA data from 225 individuals who lived in southeastern Europe and surrounding regions between 12000 and 500 bc. We document a west-east cline of ancestry in indigenous hunter-gatherers and, in eastern Europe, the early stages in the formation of Bronze Age steppe ancestry. We show that the first farmers of northern and western Europe dispersed through southeastern Europe with limited hunter-gatherer admixture, but that some early groups in the southeast mixed extensively with hunter-gatherers without the sex-biased admixture that prevailed later in the north and west. We also show that southeastern Europe continued to be a nexus between east and west after the arrival of farmers, with intermittent genetic contact with steppe populations occurring up to 2,000 years earlier than the migrations from the steppe that ultimately replaced much of the population of northern Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature25778DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091220PMC
March 2018

Stable isotope signatures of large herbivore foraging habitats across Europe.

PLoS One 2018 2;13(1):e0190723. Epub 2018 Jan 2.

Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland.

We investigated how do environmental and climatic factors, but also management, affect the carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope composition in bone collagen of the two largest contemporary herbivores: European bison (Bison bonasus) and moose (Alces alces) across Europe. We also analysed how different scenarios of population recovery- reintroduction in bison and natural recovery in moose influenced feeding habitats and diet of these two species and compared isotopic signatures of modern populations of bison and moose (living in human-altered landscapes) with those occurring in early Holocene. We found that δ13C of modern bison and moose decreased with increasing forest cover. Decreasing forest cover, increasing mean annual temperature and feeding on farm crops caused an increase in δ15N in bison, while no factor significantly affected δ15N in moose. We showed significant differences in δ13C and δ15N among modern bison populations, in contrast to moose populations. Variation in both isotopes in bison resulted from inter-population differences, while in moose it was mainly an effect of intra-population variation. Almost all modern bison populations differed in δ13C and δ15N from early Holocene bison. Such differences were not observed in moose. It indicates refugee status of European bison. Our results yielded evidence that habitat structure, management and a different history of population recovery have a strong influence on foraging behaviour of large herbivores reflected in stable isotope signatures. Influence of forest structure on carbon isotope signatures of studied herbivores supports the "canopy effect" hypothesis.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190723PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5749876PMC
February 2018

Central European Woolly Mammoth Population Dynamics: Insights from Late Pleistocene Mitochondrial Genomes.

Sci Rep 2017 12 18;7(1):17714. Epub 2017 Dec 18.

Institute for Archaeological Science, University of Tübingen, Rümelinstraße 23, 72070, Tübingen, Germany.

The population dynamics of the Pleistocene woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) has been the subject of intensive palaeogenetic research. Although a large number of mitochondrial genomes across Eurasia have been reconstructed, the available data remains geographically sparse and mostly focused on eastern Eurasia. Thus, population dynamics in other regions have not been extensively investigated. Here, we use a multi-method approach utilising proteomic, stable isotope and genetic techniques to identify and generate twenty woolly mammoth mitochondrial genomes, and associated dietary stable isotopic data, from highly fragmentary Late Pleistocene material from central Europe. We begin to address region-specific questions regarding central European woolly mammoth populations, highlighting parallels with a previous replacement event in eastern Eurasia ten thousand years earlier. A high number of shared derived mutations between woolly mammoth mitochondrial clades are identified, questioning previous phylogenetic analysis and thus emphasizing the need for nuclear DNA studies to explicate the increasingly complex genetic history of the woolly mammoth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17723-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735091PMC
December 2017

Reply to "Comment on "Ecological niche of Neanderthals from Spy Cave revealed by nitrogen isotopes of individual amino acids in collagen." [J. Hum. Evol. 93 (2016) 82-90]" [J. Hum. Evol. 117 (2018) 53-55].

J Hum Evol 2018 04 10;117:56-60. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Paläobiologie (Biogeologie), Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP), Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.09.008DOI Listing
April 2018

Isotopic analyses suggest mammoth and plant in the diet of the oldest anatomically modern humans from far southeast Europe.

Sci Rep 2017 07 28;7(1):6833. Epub 2017 Jul 28.

Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Forschungsbereich Paläobiologie, AG Biogeologie, Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstr. 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.

Relatively high N abundances in bone collagen of early anatomically modern humans in Europe have often been interpreted as a specific consumption of freshwater resources, even if mammoth is an alternative high N prey. At Buran-Kaya III, access to associated fauna in a secured archaeological context and application of recently developed isotopic analyses of individuals amino acids offer the opportunity to further examine this hypothesis. The site of Buran-Kaya III is located in south Crimea and has provided a rich archaeological sequence including two Upper Palaeolithic layers, from which human fossils were retrieved and directly dated as from 37.8 to 33.1 ka cal BP. Results from bulk collagen of three human remains suggests the consumption of a high N prey besides the contribution of saiga, red deer, horse and hare, whose butchered remains were present at the site. In contrast to bulk collagen, phenylalanine and glutamic acid N abundances reflect not only animal but also plant protein contributions to omnivorous diet, and allow disentangling aquatic from terrestrial resource consumption. The inferred human trophic position values point to terrestrial-based diet, meaning a significant contribution of mammoth meat, in addition to a clear intake of plant protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-07065-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5533724PMC
July 2017

Effect of X-ray irradiation on ancient DNA in sub-fossil bones - Guidelines for safe X-ray imaging.

Sci Rep 2016 09 12;6:32969. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

Department of Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

Sub-fossilised remains may still contain highly degraded ancient DNA (aDNA) useful for palaeogenetic investigations. Whether X-ray computed [micro-] tomography ([μ]CT) imaging of these fossils may further damage aDNA remains debated. Although the effect of X-ray on DNA in living organisms is well documented, its impact on aDNA molecules is unexplored. Here we investigate the effects of synchrotron X-ray irradiation on aDNA from Pleistocene bones. A clear correlation appears between decreasing aDNA quantities and accumulating X-ray dose-levels above 2000 Gray (Gy). We further find that strong X-ray irradiation reduces the amount of nucleotide misincorporations at the aDNA molecule ends. No representative effect can be detected for doses below 200 Gy. Dosimetry shows that conventional μCT usually does not reach the risky dose level, while classical synchrotron imaging can degrade aDNA significantly. Optimised synchrotron protocols and simple rules introduced here are sufficient to ensure that fossils can be scanned without impairing future aDNA studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep32969DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5018823PMC
September 2016

The genetic history of Ice Age Europe.

Nature 2016 06 2;534(7606):200-5. Epub 2016 May 2.

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

Modern humans arrived in Europe ~45,000 years ago, but little is known about their genetic composition before the start of farming ~8,500 years ago. Here we analyse genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000-7,000 years ago. Over this time, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA decreased from 3-6% to around 2%, consistent with natural selection against Neanderthal variants in modern humans. Whereas there is no evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe contributing to the genetic composition of present-day Europeans, all individuals between ~37,000 and ~14,000 years ago descended from a single founder population which forms part of the ancestry of present-day Europeans. An ~35,000-year-old individual from northwest Europe represents an early branch of this founder population which was then displaced across a broad region, before reappearing in southwest Europe at the height of the last Ice Age ~19,000 years ago. During the major warming period after ~14,000 years ago, a genetic component related to present-day Near Easterners became widespread in Europe. These results document how population turnover and migration have been recurring themes of European prehistory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17993DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943878PMC
June 2016

Ecological niche of Neanderthals from Spy Cave revealed by nitrogen isotopes of individual amino acids in collagen.

J Hum Evol 2016 Apr 12;93:82-90. Epub 2016 Mar 12.

Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Paläobiologie (Biogeologie), Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment (HEP), Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany.

This study provides a refined view on the diet and ecological niche of Neanderthals. The traditional view is that Neanderthals obtained most of their dietary protein from terrestrial animals, especially from large herbivores that roamed the open landscapes. Evidence based on the conventional carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of bulk collagen has supported this view, although recent findings based on plant remains in the tooth calculus, microwear analyses, and small game and marine animal remains from archaeological sites have raised some questions regarding this assumption. However, the lack of a protein source other than meat in the Neanderthal diet may be due to methodological difficulties in defining the isotopic composition of plants. Based on the nitrogen isotopic composition of glutamic acid and phenylalanine in collagen for Neanderthals from Spy Cave (Belgium), we show that i) there was an inter-individual dietary heterogeneity even within one archaeological site that has not been evident in bulk collagen isotopic compositions, ii) they occupied an ecological niche different from those of hyenas, and iii) they could rely on plants for up to ∼20% of their protein source. These results are consistent with the evidence found of plant consumption by the Spy Neanderthals, suggesting a broader subsistence strategy than previously considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.01.009DOI Listing
April 2016

Pleistocene Mitochondrial Genomes Suggest a Single Major Dispersal of Non-Africans and a Late Glacial Population Turnover in Europe.

Curr Biol 2016 Mar 4;26(6):827-33. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Archaeo- and Palaeogenetics, University of Tübingen, Rümelinstraße 23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany; Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany; Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, University of Tübingen, 72072 Tübingen, Germany. Electronic address:

How modern humans dispersed into Eurasia and Australasia, including the number of separate expansions and their timings, is highly debated [1, 2]. Two categories of models are proposed for the dispersal of non-Africans: (1) single dispersal, i.e., a single major diffusion of modern humans across Eurasia and Australasia [3-5]; and (2) multiple dispersal, i.e., additional earlier population expansions that may have contributed to the genetic diversity of some present-day humans outside of Africa [6-9]. Many variants of these models focus largely on Asia and Australasia, neglecting human dispersal into Europe, thus explaining only a subset of the entire colonization process outside of Africa [3-5, 8, 9]. The genetic diversity of the first modern humans who spread into Europe during the Late Pleistocene and the impact of subsequent climatic events on their demography are largely unknown. Here we analyze 55 complete human mitochondrial genomes (mtDNAs) of hunter-gatherers spanning ∼35,000 years of European prehistory. We unexpectedly find mtDNA lineage M in individuals prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). This lineage is absent in contemporary Europeans, although it is found at high frequency in modern Asians, Australasians, and Native Americans. Dating the most recent common ancestor of each of the modern non-African mtDNA clades reveals their single, late, and rapid dispersal less than 55,000 years ago. Demographic modeling not only indicates an LGM genetic bottleneck, but also provides surprising evidence of a major population turnover in Europe around 14,500 years ago during the Late Glacial, a period of climatic instability at the end of the Pleistocene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.01.037DOI Listing
March 2016

Mitochondrial Genomes of Giant Deers Suggest their Late Survival in Central Europe.

Sci Rep 2015 Jun 8;5:10853. Epub 2015 Jun 8.

1] Institute for Archaeological Sciences, Archaeo- and Palaeogenetics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany [2] Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Khalaische Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany [3] Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

The giant deer Megaloceros giganteus is among the most fascinating Late Pleistocene Eurasian megafauna that became extinct at the end of the last ice age. Important questions persist regarding its phylogenetic relationship to contemporary taxa and the reasons for its extinction. We analyzed two large ancient cervid bone fragments recovered from cave sites in the Swabian Jura (Baden-Württemberg, Germany) dated to 12,000 years ago. Using hybridization capture in combination with next generation sequencing, we were able to reconstruct nearly complete mitochondrial genomes from both specimens. Both mtDNAs cluster phylogenetically with fallow deer and show high similarity to previously studied partial Megaloceros giganteus DNA from Kamyshlov in western Siberia and Killavullen in Ireland. The unexpected presence of Megaloceros giganteus in Southern Germany after the Ice Age suggests a later survival in Central Europe than previously proposed. The complete mtDNAs provide strong phylogenetic support for a Dama-Megaloceros clade. Furthermore, isotope analyses support an increasing competition between giant deer, red deer, and reindeer after the Last Glacial Maximum, which might have contributed to the extinction of Megaloceros in Central Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep10853DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4459102PMC
June 2015

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of well-preserved Middle Pleistocene bone collagen from Schöningen (Germany) and their paleoecological implications.

J Hum Evol 2015 Dec 29;89:105-13. Epub 2015 Mar 29.

Department of Geosciences, Biogeology, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstr. 12, 72074, Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoecology, Hölderlinstr. 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany.

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in bone collagen can provide valuable information about the diet and habitat of mammal species. However, bone collagen degrades in normal circumstances very rapidly, and isotope analyses are therefore usually restricted to fossil material with a Late Pleistocene or Holocene age. The Middle Pleistocene site of Schöningen, dated to around 300,000 years ago, yielded bones and teeth with an exceptionally good state of collagen preservation. This allowed us to measure reliable biogenic carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios for different herbivorous taxa from the families Elephantidae, Rhinocerotidae, Equidae, Cervidae, and Bovidae. The results provide insights regarding the paleoenvironmental setting in which Middle Pleistocene hominins operated. The vegetation consumed by the herbivores from the famous spear horizon originates from open environments. During the climatic Reinsdorf Interglacial optimum, the landscape seems to have been relatively open as well, but certainly included parts that were forested. The results also indicate some niche partitioning; different herbivore species used different plant resources. For instance, the horses seem to have been predominantly browsers, while the straight-tusked elephants were feeding chiefly on grass.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.01.008DOI Listing
December 2015

European bison as a refugee species? Evidence from isotopic data on Early Holocene bison and other large herbivores in northern Europe.

PLoS One 2015 11;10(2):e0115090. Epub 2015 Feb 11.

Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences, Gen. Waszkiewicza 1c, 17-230 Białowieża, Poland.

According to the refugee species concept, increasing replacement of open steppe by forest cover after the last glacial period and human pressure had together forced European bison (Bison bonasus)--the largest extant terrestrial mammal of Europe--into forests as a refuge habitat. The consequent decreased fitness and population density led to the gradual extinction of the species. Understanding the pre-refugee ecology of the species may help its conservation management and ensure its long time survival. In view of this, we investigated the abundance of stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) in radiocarbon dated skeletal remains of European bison and other large herbivores--aurochs (Bos primigenius), moose (Alces alces), and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)--from the Early Holocene of northern Europe to reconstruct their dietary habits and pattern of habitat use in conditions of low human influence. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions in collagen of the ungulate species in northern central Europe during the Early Holocene showed significant differences in the habitat use and the diet of these herbivores. The values of the δ13C and δ15N isotopes reflected the use of open habitats by bison, with their diet intermediate between that of aurochs (grazer) and of moose (browser). Our results show that, despite the partial overlap in carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of some species, Early Holocene large ungulates avoided competition by selection of different habitats or different food sources within similar environments. Although Early Holocene bison and Late Pleistocene steppe bison utilized open habitats, their diets were significantly different, as reflected by their δ15N values. Additional isotopic analyses show that modern populations of European bison utilize much more forested habitats than Early Holocene bison, which supports the refugee status of the species.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115090PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324907PMC
January 2016

Investigation of equid paleodiet from Schöningen 13 II-4 through dental wear and isotopic analyses: Archaeological implications.

J Hum Evol 2015 Dec 18;89:129-37. Epub 2014 Sep 18.

Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany.

The paleodietary traits of the equid population from Schöningen 13 II-4 were investigated through tooth mesowear and microwear analyses, as well as stable isotopic analyses. The mesowear pattern observed on the upper teeth indicates a low abrasion diet with a significant amount of browse in the diet of the horses. The tooth microwear analysis and the isotopic data confirm that the horses from Schöningen 13 II-4 were mixed feeders, like many populations from other Pleistocene localities in Northern and Eastern Europe. Microwear also provides information on seasonal changes in the diet of the horses and offers the possibility to test hypotheses about the presence of one or several horse populations. Our analysis determined that the assemblage of horse remains from Schöningen 13 II-4 resulted from multiple accumulation events, which took place at different periods of time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.04.002DOI Listing
December 2015

Evidence for a (15)N positive excursion in terrestrial foodwebs at the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in south-western France: Implications for early modern human palaeodiet and palaeoenvironment.

J Hum Evol 2014 Apr 13;69:31-43. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

Musée National de Préhistoire, UMR 5199, 1 rue du musée, F-24620 Les Eyzies de Tayac, France; UMR 5199 PACEA/PPP, Université Bordeaux 1, av. des Facultés, Bât B18, 33405 Talence, France.

The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition around 35,000 years ago coincides with the replacement of Neanderthals by anatomically modern humans in Europe. Several hypotheses have been suggested to explain this replacement, one of them being the ability of anatomically modern humans to broaden their dietary spectrum beyond the large ungulate prey that Neanderthals consumed exclusively. This scenario is notably based on higher nitrogen-15 amounts in early Upper Palaeolithic anatomically modern human bone collagen compared with late Neanderthals. In this paper, we document a clear increase of nitrogen-15 in bone collagen of terrestrial herbivores during the early Aurignacian associated with anatomically modern humans compared with the stratigraphically older Châtelperronian and late Mousterian fauna associated with Neanderthals. Carnivores such as wolves also exhibit a significant increase in nitrogen-15, which is similar to that documented for early anatomically modern humans compared with Neanderthals in Europe. A shift in nitrogen-15 at the base of the terrestrial foodweb is responsible for such a pattern, with a preserved foodweb structure before and after the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in south-western France. Such an isotopic shift in the terrestrial ecosystem may be due to an increase in aridity during the time of deposition of the early Aurignacian layers. If it occurred across Europe, such a shift in nitrogen-15 in terrestrial foodwebs would be enough to explain the observed isotopic trend between late Neanderthals and early anatomically modern humans, without any significant change in the diet composition at the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.12.015DOI Listing
April 2014

The oldest anatomically modern humans from far southeast Europe: direct dating, culture and behavior.

PLoS One 2011 17;6(6):e20834. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Laboratoire Dynamique de l'Evolution Humaine/UPR 2147, CNRS, Paris, France.

Background: Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) are known to have spread across Europe during the period coinciding with the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition. Whereas their dispersal into Western Europe is relatively well established, evidence of an early settlement of Eastern Europe by modern humans are comparatively scarce.

Methodology/principal Finding: Based on a multidisciplinary approach for the study of human and faunal remains, we describe here the oldest AMH remains from the extreme southeast Europe, in conjunction with their associated cultural and paleoecological background. We applied taxonomy, paleoecology, and taphonomy combined with geomorphology, stratigraphy, archeology and radiocarbon dating. More than 160 human bone remains have been discovered. They originate from a well documented Upper Paleolithic archeological layer (Gravettian cultural tradition) from the site of Buran-Kaya III located in Crimea (Ukraine). The combination of non-metric dental traits and the morphology of the occipital bones allow us to attribute the human remains to Anatomically Modern Humans. A set of human and faunal remains from this layer has been radiocarbon dated by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. The direct-dating results of human bone establish a secure presence of AMHs at 31,900+240/-220 BP in this region. They are the oldest direct evidence of the presence of AMHs in a well documented archeological context. Based on taphonomical observations (cut marks and distribution of skeletal elements), they represent the oldest Upper Paleolithic modern humans from Eastern Europe, showing post-mortem treatment of the dead as well.

Conclusion/significance: These findings are essential for the debate on the spread of modern humans in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic, as well as their cultural behaviors.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0020834PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3117838PMC
November 2011

Ancient DNA sequences point to a large loss of mitochondrial genetic diversity in the saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) since the Pleistocene.

Mol Ecol 2010 Nov 27;19(22):4863-75. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark.

Prior to the Holocene, the range of the saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) spanned from France to the Northwest Territories of Canada. Although its distribution subsequently contracted to the steppes of Central Asia, historical records indicate that it remained extremely abundant until the end of the Soviet Union, after which its populations were reduced by over 95%. We have analysed the mitochondrial control region sequence variation of 27 ancient and 38 modern specimens, to assay how the species' genetic diversity has changed since the Pleistocene. Phylogenetic analyses reveal the existence of two well-supported, and clearly distinct, clades of saiga. The first, spanning a time range from >49,500 (14) C ybp to the present, comprises all the modern specimens and ancient samples from the Northern Urals, Middle Urals and Northeast Yakutia. The second clade is exclusive to the Northern Urals and includes samples dating from between 40,400 to 10,250 (14) C ybp. Current genetic diversity is much lower than that present during the Pleistocene, an observation that data modelling using serial coalescent indicates cannot be explained by genetic drift in a population of constant size. Approximate Bayesian Computation analyses show the observed data is more compatible with a drastic population size reduction (c. 66-77%) following either a demographic bottleneck in the course of the Holocene or late Pleistocene, or a geographic fragmentation (followed by local extinction of one subpopulation) at the Holocene/Pleistocene transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04826.xDOI Listing
November 2010

Influence of forage preferences and habitat use on 13C and 15N abundance in wild caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and moose (Alces alces) from Canada.

Isotopes Environ Health Stud 2010 Mar;46(1):107-21

Environment Canada, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Stable isotope composition (delta(13)C and delta(15)N) of moose (Alces alces) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) hair from the boreal forest of Jacques-Cartier Park and Cote-Nord (Quebec) and arctic tundra of Queen Maud Gulf and Southampton Island (Nunavut) was investigated as an indicator of dietary preferences and habitat use. Values of delta(13)C(hair) and delta(15)N(hair) in moose were consistently lower compared to those of caribou. This is consistent with the depletion in (13)C and (15)N in the plants preferred by moose, essentially browse (shrub and tree leaves), compared to caribou forage, which included significant amounts of graminoids, lichen and fungi. The delta(13)C(hair) values of caribou differed between closed boreal forest and open-tundra ecosystems. This pattern followed that expected from the canopy effect observed in plant communities. Variation in delta(15)N(hair) values of caribou was probably linked to the effect of different climatic conditions on plant communities. This study underlines the potential of isotopic analysis for studies on diet and habitat selection within a pure C(3) plant environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10256010903388410DOI Listing
March 2010

Determination of the dietary habits of a Magdalenian woman from Saint-Germain-la-Rivière in southwestern France using stable isotopes.

J Hum Evol 2005 Jul;49(1):19-35

Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Centre, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, 115 Perimeter Road, Saskatoon, SK S7N 0X4, Canada.

To obtain direct dietary information, carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were measured from bone collagen acquired from the well-preserved skeleton of a Magdalenian woman from the site of Saint-Germain-la-Rivière in southwestern France. Comparison of delta13C and delta15N values of the human bone collagen to those of bone collagen from local herbivores and carnivores indicates that the woman's primary source of protein was the meat of large terrestrial herbivores. Application of a linear mixing model to the woman's isotopic signature indicates that (1) no significant marine-derived protein contributed to her average diet; (2) saiga antelope, which dominates the faunal remains at Saint-Germain-la-Rivière, was not the main source of terrestrial protein; and (3) her pattern of subsistence reflects a less opportunistic behavior than generally attributed to humans from this period. Dietary proportions of prey reflected by the number of identified specimens are revised using meat percentage estimates, which de-emphasize the importance of saiga antelope in human subsistence at Saint-Germain-la-Rivière during the middle Magdalenian.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2005.02.007DOI Listing
July 2005